Owner, Sake Nomi
76 S Washington St, 467-SAKE

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I understand the sort of sake served hot in most sushi places is the sake equivalent of Natural Ice. Is there any comparably cheap, gross U.S. drink that's become popular in Japan?

I'm sure there are bars that specialize in macrobrewed U.S. beer. I always think it's funny when I go to a Japanese bar and see Budweiser.

How did the practice of heating up sake to coffee temperature become popular?

It was originally a Chinese tradition. Before people were able to mill the rice, the taste of the sake was a lot rougher—but sake was mainly heated because they thought it was better for the body to drink it warm. It's also a social thing, passing around a warm flask of sake. At Sake Nomi, we make a distinction between heating up bad sake to hide the flavor and warming it to bring out different aromas.

Tell me about the "sake aerobics" video you play here sometimes.

We have a video of sake being made completely without machines. Guys are stomping on rice to get the husks off and it looks like they're on a StairMaster.

Which sake do you recommend for a palate accustomed to, um, Natural Ice?

I usually recommend sakes that are a touch sweeter. Tsukasabotan Hana "Flower" Junmai has been popular lately. recommended