I got turned on to sparkling sake when I was in Tokyo last fall to do a spot-check on the A16 there, which opened in September. I go three or four times a year to talk to the cooks about new recipes and see how things are running. We were at this yakitori place in Ginza, some seriously down and dirty spot that’s a celebration of the chicken. They put all parts of the chicken on a skewer—tail, neck, gizzards. But we started the meal with sparkling sake, and that’s how I got introduced to it.
True Sake has seven kinds, and I’ve tried them all. They’re just fun. I’m fascinated by this stuff—I have embarked on my journey. The sparkling sakes are first barrel– then bottle–fermented, and most of them are exported—it’s not as popular in Japan. I guess over there the older people are starting to drink it, but younger people are still obsessed with cocktails. Namu has a brand I like called Dewazakura Tobiroku. It’s in a green bottle with a blue label with flowers on it.
At Nombe, where my friend Nick Balla is the chef, they have two sparkling sakes—I like the one called Poochi Poochi. Seriously! They have the best names, and this one has a cartoon on the label. It’s unfiltered and tastes melon-y. The odds of us ever having sparkling sake on the A16 menu are slim to none, but when I leave work the last thing I want is Italian stuff, so this obsession works out pretty well.
Where to get it:
True Sake, 560 Hayes St., 415-355-9555, truesake.com
Namu, 439 Balboa St., 415-386-8332, namusf.com
Nombe, 2491 Mission St., 415-681-7150, nombesf.com