A Beginners Guide to Sake

When you visit Kobe Steakhouse, not only will you be able to indulge in the delicious Japanese food, but you will also be able to try some of our authentic sake choices. For those not familiar with this classic Japanese alcoholic drink, here are a few things to help you understand more about sake before you try it for yourself:


If you ask for sake in Japan, you will be met with a confused look because the word simply refers to a generic group of alcoholic drinks. However, when not in Japan, ordering sake will get you the traditional alcoholic fermented rice beverage. If you want the classic sake beverage while in Japan, you should ask for a Nihonshu.


Because of the varied production processes and ingredients, sake is available in a myriad of varieties. Sake can be classified using several different factors, including the region from which it hails, the brewing process, the type of rice used, and more. One of the most common ways to classify sake is by labeling the polishing process. The polishing refers to how intensely the rice was milled, removing the outer layers of the grain and getting to the heart of the core. The most premium sakes have been polished down the most. Here are a few of the major types of sake to help get you started:

  • JUNMAI: This pure rice, non-additive sake exhibits a full taste with a slightly acidic profile.
  • HONJOZO: Made with water, rice, and koji, this type of sake contains a small amount of added alcohol, helping to smooth out the flavor and provide an easier drinking experience.
  • GINJO AND JUNMAI GINJO: This premium sake delivers a fruity and light flavor due to its specialized yeast ingredients and unique fermentation process.
  • DAIGINJO AND JUNMAI DAIGINJO: As one of the most premium types of sake, this drink requires a specialized brewing process and highly polished rice in its production.


Now that you have some background about the origins and production process of sake, it is time to enjoy the drink. Many beginning sake drinkers wonder what type of glass to use when drinking the beverage. Unlike traditional wine, there is no special glass shape that makes drinking the differing varietals a better experience. Most sake is consumed out of a glass material. Doing so will ensure that the complex flavors and aromas of the drink are not lost within the receptacle materials. Those looking for a more authentic experience can choose to drink their sake out of a traditional ochoko or masu.

Some sakes are better served warm while others need to be chilled to bring out the best flavors. There are no hard and fast rules about this and you will soon discover that drinking temperature is often just a personal preference. If you wish to drink your sake warm, it is important to take care to not heat it too quickly. Experts recommend using a specially designed sake carafe to gradually heat the beverage so that it is evenly warmed and the flavor is not lost. Experimenting for yourself will help you to discern how you best prefer your sake.

The best way to learn more about sake is to simply begin drinking it. Once you get the opportunity to sample some different varietals and experiment drinking it at varying temperatures, your own personal taste preferences will begin to be revealed. Have fun during the learning process and enjoy the beverage for all that it offers. Cheers!


Nigirizushi- The “no surprise” sushi

The word nigiri (ni-giri) in Japanese stands for “two fingers.” This is the typical portion of rice that sushi artists use in  order to do the act of “nigiru,” which is to grasp, or seize, the rice that will bed a delicious slice of fresh fish. All words combined make the final name of “nigirizushi” 握り寿司.

Nigirizushi’s simple presentation makes it the most honest, “no surprise” sushi option in any menu. It is perfect for sushi beginners who are ready to graduate to a more exotic choice.

The simply delicious Nigiri

At a typical Japanese restaurant Nigiri is made of two components: sushi rice, which is the sour, vinegared sticky rice, that makes sushi so popular. This is topped with a thin slice of raw fish on top. This piece of raw fish is called“sashimi.” The actual Japanese meaning of the word “sashimi” stands for “hooked meat,”or “pierced meat,”as in when a fish gets freshly caught by a hook.

Our sushi and sashimi bar offers sashimi-only options which are just as satisfying and varied as the popular sushi rolls. Nigiri, however, is a good choice when you want to add the slightly sweet taste of sushi rice to fresh fish slices that are eaten raw.

>> Related Content: Sashimi Sushi

Does it have to have only raw fish?

Nigiri is usually topped with a raw fish slice, but there are also smoked, seared, and cooked fish options that go on top. At customers’ requests, vegetarian options can be available.

What does it come with?

Nigiri pieces are typically served in pairs and garnished with pickled ginger leaves, a dollop of wasabi sauce, and a small dish with soy sauce. Add variety and color to your plate by ordering different fish options.

Typical fish options for Nigiri Sushi

• sake – salmon
• hamachi – yellowtail
• unagi – fresh water eel
• hirame – halibut
• maguro – tuna
• tako – octopus

A complex simplicity

Nigiri sushi seems simple enough to eat, but it is not as simple to make. The way to slice the fish and the way to form the rice takes a lot of training and dedication. Nigiri is also off-limits to some sushi artists. Prior to attempt Nigiri, sushi artists need to begin doing menial jobs in the kitchen and get properly trained. Therefore, always appreciate the artist behind the counter: it has taken them time and effort to have the honor of serving you.

Key differences between Nigiri and other types of sushi

1. Nigiri is for sushi eaters who are ready for a more exotic experience.
2. Its presentation in based on a perfectly-shaped block of rice, topped with a delicately-sliced piece of raw fish
3. Like other types of sushi, it is garnished with a dollop of wasabi sauce, soy sauce, and pickled ginger slices to cleanse the palate.
4. Unlike other types of sushi, it does not consist of a roll, or “maki,” and it is not wrapped in seaweed.
5. The top is usually a slice of fish such as mackerel, salmon, yellowfin, or even octopus.
6. Like other sushi, it is eaten with chopsticks, but it can also be eaten with your hands.
7. Nigiri will likely not include garnishes such as avocado, spicy mayo, or cream cheese. The focus of nigiri is the fish.
8. Nigiri is topped with sashimi or raw fish, but it is not, in itself, sashimi. The amount of rice used in the recipe is of vital importance to the final product.

Treat yourself to a few options of our nigiri and enjoy the pleasure of fresh and delicious fish made with the highest standard qualities in the food industry.

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