Episode 31: Sakaya + All About Sake

Rick Smith, owner of NYC’s first and only premium sake shop Sakaya, joined us on the show to unpack the fundamentals of this Japanese beverage. Plus, a special interview clip from Hong Kong with sake sommelier, Ayuchi Momose!

As always, we talk about the best food we had in the past week. Lynda enjoyed some classic pork and chive dumplings, while Iris was inspired by last week's episode and has been on an Indian food kick. (The word that escaped Iris' mind was dosa, by the way...it was delicious.)

As this episode is all about sake, Iris recorded an interview clip she did with the amazing Ayuchi Momose, a certified sake sommelier who runs Sake Bar Ginn in Hong Kong. Ayuchi tells us about the difference between the Hong Kong and the New York sake consumer, and the surprising health benefits you may not know about the beverage.

We then talk to Rick Smith. He talks about how Sakaya is not just a store, but a learning center and a bridge to Japanese culture for New Yorkers, helping us understand what goes into the glass. Lynda then asks Rick what exactly sake is--if it's not wine or "rice wine", as many people call it. Rick talks a little a bit about how multiple parallel fermentation makes it a completely unique alcoholic drink. Sake is brewed all over Japan, and is now even brewed in different countries!

Rick then breaks down the main classifications of sake. He talks about the different grades of premium sake depending on whether alcohol is added or not and the rice milling rates. He also clears up the misconception about nigori, which is often incorrectly referred to as "unfiltered". He also gives us some words to help us describe sake and talks about how balance is what makes good sake.

24:16 "You don't want any one element or elements of the sake to overwhelm another. You want all these things to be in harmony. It's like life, right?" - Rick Smith on the importance of balance in sake.

Lynda then asks about etiquette and Rick gives us a pro-tip on how to drink sake with your buddies. He also gives us some good rules of thumb when it comes to what temperature you should drink sake.

Finally, we discuss recent trends in sake, the documentary The Birth of Sake, how Rick feels about sake cocktails, and how he is in no hurry for what's next, but really treasures what he and his wife, Hiroko, get to do for the sake community every day.

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