With more people learning to appreciate sake (Japanese rice wine) in Singapore, it’s no wonder house sake at most Japanese restaurants just don’t make the cut.
Fortunately, Emporium Shokuhin had brought in an establishment with 100 years of sake brewing history to our shores; the world’s first Ishizuchi Sake Bar, home to extremely rare sake variations including, Kokuryu, Joyondai, Dassai and Tatenokawa.
Known as one of the most famous sake breweries in Japan, it uses the purest spring water from Mt. Ishizuchi for its brewing process that clinched countless awards during the annual Japan Sake Awards. You can explore up to 60 different sakes from Ehime, Ishizuchi and other prefectures.
We were invited for a short introductory class to sake and had four different premium sakes with unique pairing dishes.
The Hanahimesakura Daiginjo ($24 – glass / $93.40 – Takeaway Bottle / $117 – Dine In Bottle) paired with Parma Ham and Melon ($18) had a fragrant aroma and a refreshing flavour.
It falls under the Kun Shu (薫酒) sake category that is very popular among Singaporeans as its floral taste harmonises well with the sweet melon and cuts through the savoury Parma Ham. Since 50% or more of the rice must be milled away, this Daiginjo sake belongs to the top 35% of premium sakes, hence, the price tag that comes along with it.
Made with Yamadanishiki rice, we had the Yukisuzume Hanaseba Wakaru ($50.40 – Takeaway Bottle / $63 – Dine In Bottle) from Ehime prefecture.
Refreshingly crisp and dry, this subtle and light flavoured So-shu complements a wide range of food. It went well with an izakaya staple of crispy and savoury deep fried mini prawns, also known as Kawa Ebi Karaage ($12).
The spring special Junmai Ginjo Harunosake ($68.80 – Takeaway Bottle / $$86 – Dine In Bottle) was richer in taste as only rice was used and no distilled alcohol was added.
Its slight umami flavour complemented the Madai (red seabream) Konbu Sashimi ($18), which were extremely tantalising to the taste buds when enjoyed together.
Lastly, we tried the award-winning Ishizuchi Muroka Junmai ($59.20 – Takeaway Bottle / $74 – Dine In Bottle) paired with Flamed A5 ‘Miyazaki’ ($24).
Categorized as a Junmai sake with no charcoal filtration, the flavours that came with it were sweet, ricey and traditional. By traditional I mean it had a “common taste”, but you know it’s surely made with quality ingredients.
The sake elevated the smoky taste of the buttery wagyu slices and this combination was a complete indulgence.
After the sake appreciation session, we headed next door to Shio & Pepe, Emporium Shokuhin’s new bistro that serves both Japanese & Italian classics and fusion dishes.
Since “shio” means salt in Japanese and “pepe” is the equivalent of pepper in Italian, I was certainly expecting a great balance of these seasonings in all their dishes.
We tried the Maine Lobster with Camembert Cheese Pizza ($36++), an octagram-shaped pizza with each crust filled with creamy camembert.
The tomato-based pizza was topped with chunky bits of lobster, prawns, rocket leaves and a lobster claw in the middle. Taste wise, this pizza was decent but I would’ve preferred the lobster claw meat to be distributed evenly for sharing.
Although the Mentaiko Fries ($7.50++) with shredded seaweed was a little heavy on the shio part, the umami combination of crispy fries paired with seaweed and spicy mayonnaise with pollock roe will never go wrong for any palate.
Our eventful night ended with a Double Scoop of Giovanni L. Gelato ($7.50). Both the Bella Stracciatella, aka Cookies & Cream; and After Eight Rendezvous, aka Mint and Chocolate chip were not overwhelmingly sweet and tasted very refreshing.
For those that are dissatisfied with house sakes found in mainstream Japanese restaurants, you can be sure that Ishizuchi Sake Bar will satisfy all your lust for top notch Japanese rice wine.
So yes, you can finally pick up that super rare bottle to impress fellow sake connoisseurs at the next house party.
Expected Damage: $80 – $150 per pax