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A Sake for Every Nigiri

Sara Deseran | September 26, 2013 | Story Wine and Spirits

Further reading:
Raising the Sushi Bar
Why You Should Still Say No to Toro
Advice for the Nigiri Novice
Selecting the Right Sake
A Visit to SF's Sushi Nazi

Beau Timken, the owner of True Sake (560 Hayes St., near Laguna St., 415-355- 9555) in Hayes Valley, is celebrating the shop’s 10th year. “For a while, in Japan, the rice beverage with the rice food pairing was considered a no-no because it was thought that you shouldn’t double down on rice,” he says. “But that’s not part of the mentality of modern-day sushi eaters.” Timken’s basic pairing premise is that your sake’s flavor profile should mimic your sushi’s. Look for these sakes at his shop or in restaurants:

Nigiri style: Adorned simply: just fish and rice
Sake style: “You want a light, semi-dry Niigata-style ginjo sake that acts as a subtle partner to the gentle flavors of the fish.”
Try: Shirataki Jozen White (Junmai Ginjo), $39/720 ml; $16/300 ml

Nigiri style: Dipped in a wasabi-soy puddle
Sake style: “For those who dip their sushi in a lot of soy, clean up the saltiness with a dry, ricey honjozo that helps emphasize the fish.”
Try: Kubota Senjyu 1000 Long Lives (Tokubetsu Honjozo), $28/720 ml

Nigiri style: Tricked out with a lot of ingredients
Sake style: “Come at nigiri topped by big flavors like spicy sauces with a fruity nama genshu, which is usually about 18 percent alcohol.”
Try: Narutotai Nama Genshu (Ginjo Genshu), $35/720 ml

Originally published in the October 2013 issue of San Francisco

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