Episode 98 Show Notes

Episode 98. What’s on the menu this week? Well, Menus! Sake Menus, that is. We’ve all been there – Sitting in a restaurant, our server asking what we’d like to drink, staring at a sake menu and wondering what the heck to order. Sake menus come in all shapes and sizes and range from the helpful to the downright perplexing. The goal of any sake menu should be to help a customer easily find a sake they will love. And what makes a good sake menu? There is no one answer, but John and Timothy look at some real life examples of U.S. sake menus to see what is out there. (visit SakeRevolution.com to view them!) Some were actually fun to read and educated us along the way. Others were confusing and, let’s say “graphic design challenged”. Listen in as we explore the world of Sake À La Carte! #sakerevolution

Skip to: 01:00 Hosts Welcome and Introduction
Welcome to the show from John and Timothy

Skip to: 2:35 Sake Introduction and Tasting: Yoshinogawa Gokujo Ginjo

Yoshinogawa Gokujo Ginjo

Seimaibuai: 55%
SMV: +7.0
Rice Type: Gohyakumangoku
Prefecture: Niigata
Classification: Ginjo
Alcohol: 15.5%
Brewery: Yoshinogawa Brewery
Brand: Yoshinogawa (吉乃川)
Importer: Sake One

View On UrbanSake.com

Purchase on TippsySake.com: Yoshinogawa Gokujo Ginjo
NOTE: Use Discount Code “REVOLUTION” for 10% off your first order with Tippsy Sake.

Skip to: 08:24 Sake Menus

When just starting out ordering sake, menus can be confusing and intimidating! In Japan, sake menus are often ordered by region. Smaller bars may even hand write a custom menu every day based on what sake the manager picked up that day. These can be hard to read, so asking for an “osusume” or recommendation is a great play.

In the U.S., sake menus are to be expected but range in quality and scope. We’ll be taking a look at 4 menus we found that have varying degrees of success in their purpose – that is to help a customer find a sake they will love. let’s take a look!

Skip to: 19:02 Sake Menu No. 1

Sake Menu No. 1
View Sake Menu No. 1

  • Divided by Filtered/Unfiltered?
  • Bottle Images!
  • Sake Bomb?

Skip to: 22:21 Sake Menu No. 2

Sake Menu No. 2
View Sake Menu No. 2

  • Divided by Brewery?
  • Long brewery Descriptions?
  • Horizontal Bottle images?
  • Horizontal Bottle images?
  • 1 page

Skip to: 02:52 Sake Menu No. 3

Sake Menu No. 3

View Sake Menu No. 3

  • Lots of info packed in
  • No bottle images
  • Educational Sidebars!
  • 1 Page

Skip to: 02:52 Sake Menu No. 4

Sake Menu No. 4

View Sake Menu No.4

  • Sorted by Classification and Styles!
  • Introductory and Advanced sakes
  • Big Selection!
  • Cute Cat Illustrations
  • 10 Pages!!

Skip to: 32:55 Show Closing

This is it! Join us next time for another episode of Sake Revolution!

Support us on Patreon

Now there is a new way to support Sake Revolution. Join us on Patreon! Patreon is an online platform that allows you to support your favorite creators by subscribing to a monthly membership. At Sake Revolution, we’re offering two tiers, each with its own perk. If you enjoy our sake podcast, if you are able, please consider supporting this labor of sake love! See below to learn about our Patreon support levels.

  • Sake Enthusiast

    Have you ever wanted to sip along with us as we taste our sakes on the podcast? Now you can! As a Sake Enthusiast patron, you’ll get the inside track and know in advance which sakes we’ll be featuring on the show. This allows you to get them on hand and sip along with us while you listen.

  • Sake Otaku

    As a Sake Otaku supporter of the pod, you’ll get access to all the Sake Enthusiast intel along with access to a monthly live zoom Sake Happy Hour taking place the first Weds of every month at 9pm ET (6pm PT). Visit with us live on zoom! Come with all your questions and suggestions and enjoy a relaxed and fun Happy Hour with with us as we all sip sake together!

Episode 98 Transcript

John Puma: 0:00
Today I do like the idea that, uh, we’re going to be doing something, uh, something a little nice. We’re gonna be chatting a little bit about sake menus. We’ve we’ve kicked around this idea for a long time.

Timothy Sullivan: 0:11

John Puma: 0:12
Yeah, this is, this was one of those ones in the, in our back pocket that we’ve been saving for a rainy day and in New York at rain last night. But I don’t think it rained at all today.

Timothy Sullivan: 0:22
Yes. It’s been in a back pocket like that forgotten piece of gum.

John Puma: 0:28
Well, hopefully it’s more interesting than that forgotten, uh, piece of gum, but, uh, without any further ado, let’s get to it. Hello everybody. And welcome to Sake Revolution. This is in case you haven’t heard America’s first sake podcast. I almost said favorite. Uh, just for a sec, I podcast and I am a, one of your hosts, John Puma. Uh, I am a guy who does the Sake Notes and I’m also the administrator, uh, over at the internet Sake Discord. That’s a fun place to kick around and drink sake and talk to your friends, uh, about sake. but every week I’m the show, I’m the guy. Who’s not the Sake Samurai.

Timothy Sullivan: 1:33
And I’m your host Timothy Sullivan. I am the Sake Samurai. I’m also a sake educator as well as the founder of the Urban Sake website. And every week, John and I will be here tasting and chatting about all things sake and doing our best to make it fun and easy to understand.

John Puma: 1:50
Hmm. So Tim sake menus.

Timothy Sullivan: 1:56
I love ’em. I hate ’em. I love to hate

John Puma: 2:00
interesting, so, given that we’re going to be kind of topic focused today and our topic doesn’t really, uh, evoke a specific sake I think we should start drinking sake now.

Timothy Sullivan: 2:17
It’s time to start drinking sake.

John Puma: 2:20
Oh, so you’re saying I don’t need a couple of excuses drinks. Okay. Okay.

Timothy Sullivan: 2:23
Not, not in my world. You don’t? Nope, no rationale needed. we’re. We’re going to start with the sake introduction. I like that. Let’s do it.

John Puma: 2:35
All right, let’s do it. Uh, so today’s sake and Tim and I are both drinking the same sake today is the, uh, Yoshinogawa, Kokujo Ginjo. So Ginjo So it is that alcohol added Aruten style, uh, the. rice is milled it down to 55% of its original size. The Koji rice is Gohyakumangoku the starch component is, uh, is listed as just Niigata rice. So it’s probably a local, uh, possibly eating rice. Uh, and then. If I didn’t mention it before, I actually did mention it. 55%. The alcohol is 15 and a half percent. The sake meter value on this. The measure of dryness, the sweetness is plus seven. So you bet this one’s going to be pretty dry. And the acidity is 1.2. Oh, I definitely, I can taste the dryness already. Um, this sounds to me, Tim, like prototypical Niigata stuff.

Timothy Sullivan: 3:37
All the warning signs are there.

John Puma: 3:40
Gohyakumangoku plus seven low acidity, you know? Boom.

Timothy Sullivan: 3:46

John Puma: 3:47

Timothy Sullivan: 3:48
Even the fact that it’s a Ginjo alcohol added that usually adds a little bit to that impression of crispness

John Puma: 3:56

Timothy Sullivan: 3:57
dryness. So I’m really excited to get this in the glass and see if all these signposts are really pointing us towards a true Niigata style.

John Puma: 4:07
Ooh. All right. Well, let me know if you start getting flashbacks from your time there.

Timothy Sullivan: 4:21
It feels a little subversive to be doing our ASMR portion right at the beginning.

John Puma: 4:28
If we’ve got any complaints, I’ll let you know. Hm. That’s a nice, a nice kind of soft. I was kind of soft little fruity, right?

Timothy Sullivan: 4:43
Yeah, but I’m also getting something a little, marshmallowy like a little plumpness,

John Puma: 4:51

Timothy Sullivan: 4:52
some rice, maybe a little creamy. note. For me, it’s not a super classic fruity

John Puma: 5:00
uh, well, it’s also not super classic Niigata, it’s not overwhelming with rice notes either.

Timothy Sullivan: 5:06
Yeah. There are some fruity notes there

John Puma: 5:09
Yeah, I’m just, I’m just surprised to find them at all.

Timothy Sullivan: 5:13

John Puma: 5:16
I should also know that this is the most transparent sake I think I’ve ever seen. It is so clear.

Timothy Sullivan: 5:24
yeah. that probably hints that being charcoal filtered for sure. Which is a Classic. move in Niigata.

John Puma: 5:30

Timothy Sullivan: 5:32
All right. let’s give it a taste.

John Puma: 5:37
huh? There’s a lot more going on here than I was expecting. I don’t know about you.

Timothy Sullivan: 5:42
Well, definitely leads with dryness for me. Like it tastes dry. yeah, So more on the the end of the palate and the finish of the sake for me is very dry. There’s a little bit of a heat on the finish. Uh, there’s a warmth there, it comes from the dryness for me. And again, I, I F I find that the, the palate matches the aroma in that it’s a little bit soft, a little bit rice-y, a little bit marshmallowy for me. And just hints of fruit, a bit of complexity there, but it’s, it’s round and pillowy. The texture is very for

John Puma: 6:28
Yeah. Um, I really like how soft and dry it is. And then also that, that rice is really kind of very welcome and pleasant. It is that, that, that sweeter kind of rice taste that marshmallow that you mentioned, I find to be kind of near that. And I, definitely notice that a lot more than the taste I did on the nose.

Timothy Sullivan: 6:53

John Puma: 6:53
And this is really just pleasant. I like this a lot. I like this. Uh, this is really tasty, very sippable. but, but I will say this is not my first encounter with this sake.

Timothy Sullivan: 7:07

John Puma: 7:08
I’ve had it, I’ve had it in the states before, but it’s been a long time, been a really long time. and I’ve also had. In Japan, there was a little, this little sushi shop near my hotel room or any of my hotel that my friends and I went to one year when it was like the last day we were in Japan and somebody was like, we haven’t had any sushi. We needed to do that. And so the rest of us were like, uh, okay, we’re, we’ll get some sushi. And so we went to this, this place and they had some sake and we didn’t know what it was like very early on. I didn’t know what to do. And so we just kind of point and pointed at something at random, they brought this. And it went really well with the, with the sushi. It was very, very pleasant and very, uh, easy going. So maybe I’m getting a little nostalgia from the early, early Japan memory in 2010, I

Timothy Sullivan: 7:57
you have, you have incredible recall. I don’t usually, if I’m not taking like written notes, I can’t remember that level of detail.

John Puma: 8:06
It’s weird. I CA it’s not, it’s not all the time. So sometimes people think I, because I remember certain things on her mobile, remember all of them and I’m like, no, no, it doesn’t quite work that way. The sake, I usually, I usually know, like the time and place I can see myself having the sake.

Timothy Sullivan: 8:23

John Puma: 8:24
It’s a little weird. Um, but yeah, no, this is pleasant and I’m going to enjoy sipping this while we discuss. The science, well, maybe the art, maybe it’s more of an art than a science of sake menus. And, uh, again, this is something that we’ve been, we’ve been chitchat about doing something like this for a long time, and I’m kinda glad we finally got around to it.

Timothy Sullivan: 8:50
Yeah, I view this kind of as a sister episode two, the survival Japanese,

John Puma: 8:58
Definitely. Definitely.

Timothy Sullivan: 9:00
this is putting us in the position of ordering sake. Like This is, where you are sitting there in the restaurant and it is go time.

John Puma: 9:14
This is, this is putting all of your, your, your survival Japanese to the test.

Timothy Sullivan: 9:19
yeah. And John, you must remember. I know, I remember very, very distinctly. Being someone just starting out in sake, opening up a menu, sitting in a Japanese restaurant, not knowing any brands, not knowing any styles and staring blankly at a sake menu you’ve been there, right?

John Puma: 9:39
Many times. And for me, um, a couple of times I got really lucky because some menus in Japan and what’s let’s first. Briefly give an extremely broad stroke overview of like what to expect in Japan when it comes to sake menus. Um, as number one is a lot of places in Japan don’t have fixed sake lists. A lot of them get different stuff. And as a result, a lot of the menus are handwritten and because the menus are handwritten, even if you kind of recognize certain breweries, Kanji or certain brands. You’re probably not going to recognize them when they’ve been written by somebody on a piece of paper. It’s like, you kind of know the art that’s on that label. Right. But it doesn’t really translate. And so things that you may otherwise recognize, like if you look at the bottle, you’ll know it, but then you look at the paper and you’ll be like, that says that. And it’s, it’s difficult, especially when you’re very new at trying to recognize it. Again, very rarely to fix menus, a lot of handwritten kanji you know, it’s a lot of it’s stuff they got yesterday or today, and also in Japan, a lot of the times that menus are sorted by, by prefecture, the region they’re from, uh, although sometimes by, by the flavor profile, you’ll see that you will definitely see. and, and was something that we said in the survival Japanese episode, which will serve you extraordinarily well in any situation in a Japanese restaurant, Tim has, is, is also assuming, right? Uh, cause you can vary your work around it. In some cases, some ways were around the menu and a bit in a way.

Timothy Sullivan: 11:35
Yeah, if you haven’t listened to our survival Japanese episode. “Osusume” means recommendation. And it’s a magic word. when you’re at a Japanese sake bar in Japan.

John Puma: 11:46
magic word.

Timothy Sullivan: 11:47
Yes. And I think that it is really hard, even if you’ve studied. The Kanji, if you’ve studied brand names and you go to Japan, when you and I were in our intermediate phases sake, geekdom, you know, not off the deep end, but you know, we’d studied some Japanese writing and knew a few words. You get to the Japanese sake bar in Japan and the menu, as you said, is written in handwritten kanji script. That is totally Illegiable to us.

John Puma: 12:28
time at a restaurant. There are our ma our waiter spoke very good English, and we were looking at the menu with him and we were trying to ask for some suggestions and he was like, he’s like, look, honestly, this is so calligraphy. Like, there’s so much calligraphy here. I can barely read.

Timothy Sullivan: 12:45
I can barely read it and I wrote it.

John Puma: 12:48
but, uh, you know, so it is, it’s a lot, it’s a lot for everybody. also, if you, if you know your way around the bottle sometimes, and you know, the, the way the labels are laid out for certain brands, do your best to try and sit at the bar again, we’re, we’re getting you to, to work around the menu in a way, but if you sit at the bar, you can pick. ’cause you might recognize some of those, some of those bottles in the refrigerator.

Timothy Sullivan: 13:15
Yeah. if you know what the labels look like of your favorite bottles, like casually walking by the sake fridge and peeking in there is a good way

John Puma: 13:25
That is a really good move. I like that one.

Timothy Sullivan: 13:28
Yeah. Well, That’s all well and good for Japan, but I think the majority of our listeners, especially now when there’s no travel are going to be asking and thinking about U S sake menu.

John Puma: 13:42

Timothy Sullivan: 13:43
And this is a whole different ball of wax

John Puma: 13:45
very, very wildly different ball of wax. Uh, typically I want to say, and this is a very, very broad strokes. A lot of the sake menus that we come across here in the States are separated by the classification. So you’ll see your Junmai class first, and your Junmai Ginjo slash Ginjo Junmai Daiginjo slash Daiginjo sparkling nigori, and then, you know, blah, blah, blah, like that. And that’s very, very common here. a Lot of times I’ll be sorted by price as well for each one so within Junmai it’ll be like lowest to highest, et cetera, et cetera. I think when that sort of thing was coming here, that was that language of menu was known to the consumer from probably wine and whiskeys and all that. And just like putting, you know, region and price by Ascension and boom, there you go. That’s your, that’s your menu. And it makes people a little comfortable. They understand that better. Uh, because something they’re used to, sometimes you get them sorted by flavor profile. Very helpful, especially early going in your, in your sake career. I might say I, for me, it’s been very helpful over the years.

Timothy Sullivan: 14:55
so that would be like, these are our dry sakes. These are our fruity sakes. These are our rich and robust sakes kind of like that.

John Puma: 15:02
Right. Right, right. And then if you, you know, you have one that you like, you know, you kind of play around that category and have some of the other ones it’s a really easy way to expand and, and taste a bunch of different brands. Uh, once you kind of get an idea of something you’d like, um, you’re usually going to be fixed menu.

Timothy Sullivan: 15:22

John Puma: 15:22
in the states because they, the restaurants have to order. They can’t just get, uh, like in Japan they can get like a bottle of SAKE of a sake. That’s completely fine. in the U S they have to get like a case or several if they, especially if they want to get like a competitive price on it. Uh, is that, is that mostly accurate?

Timothy Sullivan: 15:42
well, you know, I think the consumer expectation has also when you open the. That everything is going to be available. Like that’s what people expect. And in Japan, it’s very much that people expect things to be recommended by the chef and recommended by the bartender and some hidden things under the counter and some special sakess for VIP customers. That’s very much the way it is in Japan.

John Puma: 16:08
So expect the unexpected.

Timothy Sullivan: 16:10
yeah, but in, in the U S I think if you open a menu, Every other thing you asked for the waiter’s like, oh, sorry, that’s out. Sorry. That’s out. It’s that’s out. You know, that’s really not a good look for us restaurant. So I think they, as you said, tend to have more fixed items on the menu. They may order more volume of it to make sure it’s in stock.

John Puma: 16:31
that makes sense to, occasionally you’ll have occasionally you’ll see specials. U S they will be sometimes, usually a second little like little menu on the side.

Timothy Sullivan: 16:40
Or a seasonal item, like a Nama sake for spring or something like that. Yep.

John Puma: 16:44

Timothy Sullivan: 16:45
Yeah. So what do you think about bottle pictures or label pictures in the menu? Do you think that they’re a good thing? Are they tacky? Do you like them? Do you not like them? What do you think about photos?

John Puma: 17:00
I kinda like them. I don’t see them anymore. Very rarely see them these days, but actually I really see menus at all these days because we’re all just QR code scanning and looking at a list on our phone. But, um, back in the day I used to enjoy when a place would put, uh, either a picture of the label or a picture of the bottle. Uh, it helps me since I’m not going to be keeping that bottle. Right. They’re going to pour some, they may bring the bottle and poured at the table. They may not, but I know what that bottle looks like now. And if I see it somewhere else, I’ll recognize it. Where if I only know the name, I might not make that connection knowing me. I will not make that connection. And I think that it’s very helpful for me as the consumer, who wants to try a sake somewhere, but then want buy a bottle for myself. Another time someplace.

Timothy Sullivan: 17:50
Yeah, I know I’m a visual learner. And when I was first getting into sake, if the menu had a picture of the bottle, It really helped me remember, oh, it’s a blue glass bottle with a yellow label and black writing on it. And before you know it, I could pick out that bottle in a lineup. So getting that reinforcement from the menu was something I really liked now. I think it’s true. What you said, a lot of menus don’t do that as much anymore, but it’s something that I, I kinda like as.

John Puma: 18:27
Yeah, I miss it. I’ve got to miss it. I also, I also miss physical menus in general, but that’s a completely different story.

Timothy Sullivan: 18:34
Yeah, well, I thought it might be fun if we took a look at some real life menus and kind of gave them our once-over what’s helpful. What’s not helpful. What’s well done. What’s not well done. And I think.

John Puma: 18:53
grade these menu stem?

Timothy Sullivan: 18:55
Not not great then, but just react. It’s a live react

John Puma: 18:58
be fun. Oh, all right. I’m I’m so excited for this.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:02
Now, if you are listening at home and you want to follow along, you can go to sake revolution.com and we are going to have a link to download each of these menus so you can review them as well, but we’ll give you a description as well. So let’s start with menu number one

John Puma: 19:20
okay. All right. So, so number one on this menu, we’ve got things sorted by classification. So I’ve got a Junmai or junmai Ginjo Junmai Daiginjo Nigori flavored, which is like infused stuff. And then some samplers and, uh, you know, a sake bomb, but we’re going to do, uh, and pictures of the bottle, Tim. I’m so happy.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:48
Well, this is separated in two big sections.

John Puma: 19:53
Oh yeah. Like they’re

Timothy Sullivan: 19:55
the left side of the menu is called filtered, which I think, they mean clear. And then the right side of the menu is unfiltered nigori flavored.dot dot.

John Puma: 20:11
at the menu where they hurt you?

Timothy Sullivan: 20:13
Yes, this is where the menu hurt me. Um, yeah, so there are very colorful, bright photos of every bottle, which I appreciate, but the selection is limited.

John Puma: 20:30
I wasn’t going to criticize the selection necessarily. Cause there may not, I don’t know where they are. Maybe they don’t have good options there. Um, I was going for more, just the general design, but I understand.

Timothy Sullivan: 20:42
Yeah, so it’s heavy on the flavored and the nigori styles. And at the very bottom, there is a sake bomb option, as you mentioned, and at the bottom left, there’s a hot sake generic house, hot sake, which we warn everybody to stay away from.

John Puma: 21:04
Yeah, I think you can usually do better than the the house hot sake, but it’s.

Timothy Sullivan: 21:12
Yeah. So I think outside of major metropolitan areas where you have a very active sake scene, I think this is the type of menu that you’re going to see a lot in smaller markets for sake. Right. Kind of heavy on the nigori. Very accessible prices. Uh, there’s a hot sake hot sake shot, sake bomb, sake mystery, sake sampler, fruit, fruit flavored. sakes. This is, what most people outside of those major sake markets are going to be looking at.

John Puma: 21:49
Yeah, I think so. But having said that, you know, I’m familiar with a lot of the sakes on this list and there are some, there are some sakess I would, definitely gravitate towards,

Timothy Sullivan: 21:59
Yeah, there’s some good sakess here.

John Puma: 22:00

Timothy Sullivan: 22:02
But it’s a, it’s a small list

John Puma: 22:04
list, but, but it’s it, they got some good stuff.

Timothy Sullivan: 22:08
But I’ve never seen a sake divided this way. 50, 50, like clear and cloudy slash flavored. That’s a

John Puma: 22:15
is more cloudy. All right. So what do we have.

Timothy Sullivan: 22:21
Okay. Let’s look at sake menu, number two

John Puma: 22:26
Okay. This is unique Tim. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before.

Timothy Sullivan: 22:32
This for me, this is confusing. So this menu,

John Puma: 22:36
it took me a minute to figure out what was going on. And then when I did, I was like, wait a second.

Timothy Sullivan: 22:41
So I pulled this menu to look at because we talked about sake menus in the U S being separated, usually by classification or by flavor. And this one is separated by brewery. So it lists the brewery and then it gives a long paragraph explanation about the brewery. Then it mentions the sake name and a little tasting note about the sake. And then under all of that, there’s a picture of the bottle, but sideways, like horizontal lying down.

John Puma: 23:14
they’re using it as a divider. I think.

Timothy Sullivan: 23:16

John Puma: 23:17
Kind of, I think that’s the artistic vision,

Timothy Sullivan: 23:20

John Puma: 23:21
but yeah, kind of I, so things that things, I like, number one, I really liked that they’re going in on the, uh, information about the brewery or the brand. Uh, I like that they have pictures of the bottles or a cups.

Timothy Sullivan: 23:41
You do have to tilt your

John Puma: 23:42
head uh, you do have to tell your high, you know, you’re, you’re gonna, you’re gonna remote. It looks like, you know, you know, they get to get the broad strokes. The, uh huh.

Timothy Sullivan: 23:50
From my point of view, this isn’t exceedingly helpful for the customer to make a choice. The most real estate is really used to describe the brewery and the brewery name. And I think it would be more helpful to expand a little bit on the tasting note versus how many years old the brewery is. You know, when you’re, when you’ve. 30 seconds to make that choice. The waiter standing there, your date is sitting across from you. You have to pick the sakes a and you know, you don’t have time to read this two paragraph, uh, thing about, um, Hananomai Shuzo. Oh,

John Puma: 24:27
and we should, we should mention that the, the, uh, the paragraph on the brewery is in bold

Timothy Sullivan: 24:34
it’s bolded. Yes. Lots of interesting design choices

John Puma: 24:40
it is an interesting, it’s not a choice, but. Uh, I think it’s, it’s artistically sound. It’s a little weird that that is by the, by the brewery. Like I said, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Um, but yeah, I think I agree with you in that, uh, maybe, maybe accentuating the information about each particular sake makes a lot more sense than really going deep on the, on the.

Timothy Sullivan: 25:10
Yeah, well, let’s look at a few more that take a different approach and see how we like those. So let’s go to menu number three

John Puma: 25:19
All right. So this is an interesting, uh, so the first thing that stands out to me is that it is profile driven. So it’s rich and bold smooth and round lightened crisp. it’s got a little bit of description of sake as a, well, like a definition of sake in the upper left when he first got there. I think it’s interesting. Even as a pronunciation for the word sake, I kind of liked that, Tim. That’s a plus, but let’s see. Yeah. Rich and bold, smooth and round. I see, so this is nice and smooth and rounds the category. And then the descriptor they give us these sakes are well-balanced and gentle with a smooth mellow finish. That’s very useful information.

Timothy Sullivan: 26:03
Yeah. So they group the sakes primarily by these overarching flavor profiles. So if you want a quick and dirty selection, you know, I want something smooth and round light and crisp. Or rich and bold. I really like this setup because it lets you pick from three or four sakes you can narrow it down quickly and it doesn’t overwhelm you if you know what general style you like. And the, the little thing at the beginning, the sake, if you scroll to page two, there’s also a little diagram of. The rice milling percentages. And there’s a map of Japan. I like these little educational sidebars. I think they’re helpful.

John Puma: 26:46
very nice. So it’s like you’re getting the meat and potatoes, so to speak of your, or the rice and your water, um, with having all the information about the sake upfront. And then like on the side, like you’re kind of like, oh I’ve made my selection. I’m kind of waiting for the waiter to come back and you can look at these, uh, bits of information here. It is a nice way to learn a little bit more about the sake is that you’re about to drink.

Timothy Sullivan: 27:12
And I’ve, I’ve worked in restaurants, sometimes talking to people about sake and they often ask, where is Akita? Where is it? And if you can say, oh, just flip to page two of your menu. we’ve highlighted all the prefectures that we’re selling sake from, and you can just point and there it is. And it’s a great little learning experience. So I really liked that. And they also have a category for nigori for sparkling, for unpasteurized, and they have some sake flights. I think this menu is really well done.

John Puma: 27:46
I like this menu. Good, good information.

Timothy Sullivan: 27:48
Well, I have one last menu, John. I want to show you. This is for us menu number four.

John Puma: 27:54
All right. So I’m looking at this menu and it’s, it has a absolutely delightful graphic of a kitty in a, in a MASU cup. And it’s the most, it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

Timothy Sullivan: 28:06
Yeah. So that is kind of a, that page is kind of the table of contents. So on the right-hand side, it shows you all the different sections to the

John Puma: 28:16
Right, right. Okay. All right. So they, ah, all right. I see what they’re doing here. So they’re doing it by style, but they’re naming their styles a little bit more. Funkily

Timothy Sullivan: 28:29
What do they have here?

John Puma: 28:30
fruit and flower. That’s a really good name for the style earth and umami rice and minerals and delicious weirdos. I get everything that they put there. Like I immediately understand what they’re going for.

Timothy Sullivan: 28:50
And just to be clear, that is just a hint of what they’re offering, because each of those sections has only three sakes in it. So this is just a jumping off point. Then they move on to a couple options for warm sake that they recommend, and then they have four cup sakes

John Puma: 29:11
Uh, oh, wow. I’m scrolling and I’m seeing there’s more and more and more. I might’ve thought that that first area where there was that entire list, but I’m rewarded by continuing.

Timothy Sullivan: 29:22
Yes. when you scroll down a bit, they have the classifications and each classification section has a little introduction. And then they, they say these are some beginner sakess in this category and then further exploration in this category. So they give you steps to take. I really like that.

John Puma: 29:41
that’s nice. That’s nice.. Yeah, this is a really big menu with a lot of interesting stuff on it.

Timothy Sullivan: 29:47
Yes. And when you get down to the bottom, once you get past. the honjozo Junmai Junmai ginjo and Joe Daiginjo Junmai Daiginjo then you get down to something they call old fashioned techniques. This is our Kimoto, our yamahais and again, they have a few beginners and then a few further explorations. They move on to Umeshu nigori, and then some more weirdo, kijoshu and sparkling and stuff like that. So this is a, this is a menu for a serious sake, a

John Puma: 30:22

Timothy Sullivan: 30:23
Yeah, a serious sake journey. Yeah.

John Puma: 30:26

Timothy Sullivan: 30:28
And for each sake, they list the name, they list the classification and they give a very brief, a very brief tasting note. Like if we go under fruit And flowers, Eiko Fuji Honjozo, it says super big fruit, lots of ripe cherry finish like that is, I appreciate that too.

John Puma: 30:52
And this is a, it’s all like, uh, I kinda simple like typewriter font almost. Right.

Timothy Sullivan: 30:58

John Puma: 30:59
So very like minimalist as far as like the presentation goes black on white. Uh, but it’s getting a, of.

Timothy Sullivan: 31:09
Yeah. So I, I would say this is like an a plus menu. I really, I really liked this and this would be fun for me to read as a sake lover. And I think if you’re a beginner, you can navigate this easily on your own. If you need. And you can find something yummy that will appeal to you Don’t you think?

John Puma: 31:27
I think so. I think I can have a lot of fun at this place,

Timothy Sullivan: 31:30
yeah, so, well, I don’t think we’ve cracked the code or I don’t think we’ve

John Puma: 31:37
discovered there’s no code.

Timothy Sullivan: 31:41
there’s a lot of different menu styles and layouts out there, but I hope we’ve highlighted some of the things to look out for. And some things that could be helpful to people wrestling with menus in the future.

John Puma: 32:03
I think, I think maybe that’s the key is talk to the bartender and, you know, get to know, have a conversation with the people, serving you the drinks, they know more than what they can easily put down on a piece of paper, uh, in most cases. And they’re going to be helpful that your guy, that your friend,

Timothy Sullivan: 32:18
That is such good advice. I could not agree more. Using the menu as a jumping off point, but having that conversation’s really important and it’s going to help you learn a lot more. The people there are usually trained in these sakes, not always, but sometimes they have tasted them before they know what they like. And if you’re just learning, asking for a recommendation or having that conversation is really worthwhile. I think that was a lot of fun. I’m excited to get back out there and scope out some new menus.

John Puma: 32:51
So all carried away there, Tim. I think we got it.

Timothy Sullivan: 32:53

John Puma: 32:53
some fun though.

Timothy Sullivan: 32:55
Yeah. See what restaurants are up to John. Great to taste with you and, uh, great to have a fun sake from Niigata and review a whole lot of menus. I want to also thank our listeners for tuning in today. We really do hope That you’re enjoying our show. If you’d like to show your support for sake revolution, the best way to support us now is to join our community on Patreon. We are listener supported show and all the support we receive from our patrons allows us to host, edit and produce our podcast for you each and every week.

John Puma: 33:28
That is right. And if you’d like to find out how you can become a patron, you’d go over to patreon.com/SakeRevolution, or find the link at SakeRevolution.com. But there’s other ways that you can support us as well. You can listen to the show up. You’re doing it already. You can, you can also tell your friends, tell your family also leave reviews on apple podcasts or your podcast platform of choice. All of these things really help move the needle and get this show into more ears.

Timothy Sullivan: 34:06
And as always, if you would like to learn more about any of the topics or sakes we talked about in this or in any of our episodes, be sure to visit our website, SakeRevolution.com. And there you can see the show notes and a written transcript of each and every episode.

John Puma: 34:22
And if you’d like to reach out to us directly, you have some criticism that our opinions on sake menus, we have an email address for you? It’s [email protected]. If email’s not your thing, don’t worry about it. You can also DM us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram on Instagram. We are @SakeRevolutionPod everywhere else. We are a @SakeRevolution. So until next time, please remember to keep drinking sake and Kanpai.