Umenishiki Gorgeous Plum Sake at Sushi Sasa
Many people tell me they dislike sake. When I mention sake to neophytes, they complain that it's just hot turpentine served in small, white vases — or, worse, that concoction of bad sake and Chambord called Purple Haze. But saying you don't like sake based on this dreck is like saying you don't like wine because you've only tried Beringer White Zinfandel or Mogen David. Like fine wine, the taste of good sake is affected by heat; the delicate flavors and often fruity aromas that the brewers labored to create are most noticeable at cooler temperatures. Sushi Sasa features an impressive list of high-end sakes, including my favorite, Umenishiki "Gorgeous Plum" ($13 glass/$66 bottle). It's clean and mildly fruity, and works well with the subtle flavors of Wayne Conwell's excellent sushi. And the Umenishiki website has even convinced me that sake is good for me. "Japan's native drink has been said to be world's best medicine," it states. "For example, sake, as it activates NK cells (a lymphocyte that kills cancer), has many health benefits. The yeast contained in sake is said to help cure dementia, insomnia, and depression. In addition to the medicinal benefits of sake, it can also be used for cosmetic treatment. For example, add some sake to your bath and massage it into your skin for a glossy complexion." I'd suggest you add the hot sake to your bath — and save the Umenishiki to massage into your mouth.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.