Sometimes it takes only a taste to transform your world.
Saké can be such a taste—especially if you are a skeptic. I was such a skeptic, preferring to avoid sake for the most part, only occasionally coerced into sharing a carafe at a Japanese restaurant, already anticipating the next morning’s headache. I found sake very sweet and one note, feeling cottony in the mouth.
Then I tasted SakéOne and my mind was blown. Truth be told, I was lucky enough to have a lusciously proper introduction to the saké: four course pairing menu, surrounded by gregarious saké experts, in the setting of a luxuriously classic, San Francisco Victorian home (a pop up event venue called “The Naked Kitchen”).
Based out of Portland, Oregon, SakéOne as a company has the unique approach of adhereing to the ancient and stringent Japanese practice of distilling the rice-based, fermented beverage, while simultaneously harnessing the spirit of invention and exuberance. Thus, the product embodies this approach, yielding a line of sakés that has a such nuanced depth of flavor and a shockingly diverse spectrum, as to reverse all preconceived notions of sake as merely a novelty “wine” reserved for ethnic restaurants.
Our night of saké awakening at the Naked Kitchen began, well, in the kitchen, with brightly-herbal, citrus-tinged cocktails showcasing the beautiful, basil infused saké (one of SakéOne’s Moonstone line of awesome saké innovations). Thanks to the deft palates and exceptional skill of Tango and Stache, the evening’s caterers, the lovely sake cocktail was paired with remarkable perfection to an amuse bouche of fresh sweet grilled watermelon with a briny, crispy fried caperberry and a shaved curl of aged goat cheese. So enamoured of this pairing, I was already completely won over and could easily have stopped there, but the night was young and my world was only partially rocked.
Retiring to the dining room, each guest had a placemat with three circles and three stem-less wine glasses awaiting them. As the evening progressed, course by course, we were led across the spectrum of SakéOne’s magnificent sakés (while our understandings were rounded out by a “saké wheel” graphic, explaining the different styles of saké and how to pair them—much the same as wine). The Kasumi Tsuru Kimoto Extra Dry, which was paired with the earthy, salty stewed summer mushroom and potato dish, showcasing the saké’s bright, dry and refined taste, was a wonderfully elegant saké.
The sweeter fuller bodied g fifty Junmai Ginjo Genshu accompanied a fantastic hibiscus tea-brined sea bass, that sang harmoniously with grilled okra and peaches, hitting the citrus, floral notes of the saké wonderfully. Finally, a rustic stone fruit cobbler, with a surprisingly delightful dill infused crème fraiche was matched to the SakéMoto Junmai, which acted as a lovely, fruit forward palate cleanser.
Needless to say, I was more than won over by SakéOne at the end of the evening.
Lucky for me, and for all the attendees of San Francisco’s Outside Lands Festival commencing the next day, the flow of saké was not about to end with the fabulous feast.
Debuting their incredible Organic Junmai Ginjo Craft saké on tap at Wine Lands, the comprehensive local wine showcase within the festival grounds, SakéOne became the very first saké to participate in the incredible 3 day event. Enjoying a prime location, the eye-catching logo was accompanied by a huge, Japanese-style drum that served as a keg for the organic saké. Festival goers were able to experience the exquisite saké on tap throughout the three days.
As the festival progresses, it became clear that I was not alone in having my mind blown by actually loving the taste saké for the first time ever. Thanks to SakéOne for pioneering saké perfection to the masses!
– Ava Fedorov
Photos by Jeff Owens for Socially Superlative