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5 Izakaya Dishes To Pair With Japanese Sake

“Beer and sausage,” “wine and cheese,” - it's fun to select dishes that go nicely with your beverage of choice. Here are some dishes that best match different kinds of Japanese sake, from an standard izakaya menu.

1. For Junmai-style Sake

Junmai sake has the distinct, rich aroma of rice and a deep flavor, therefore dishes that also have strong flavors are recommended.
Usually, food that goes well with steamed rice matches nicely with Junmai sake, as sake is made of rice. Some examples might be a fish cooked in soy sauce and sake like broiled flounder, pork belly, and stir-fried vegetables. Some people in Japan enjoy having rice with butter and soy sauce, so buttery dishes, like sweet corn stir-fried with butter, a standard menu of many izakaya, also suit this type of sake.

* The photo is for illustrative purposes.

2. For Ginjo sake

Ginjo sake is a refreshing and flavorful Japanese sake that suits light and delicate dishes. These dishes can be found in the antipasto part of a menu, and include items like steamed and flavored spinach and sashimi, especially whitefish sashimi like sea bream or flounder. European dishes like avocado and shrimp salad, or seafood carpaccio that uses olive oil and mayonnaise, also suit ginjo sake. These dishes with mild flavors will emphasize the delicious taste of ginjo sake.

*The photo is for illustrative purposes.

3. For Namazake

Namazake is a type of sake that is made without any heating process, and which has a refreshing flavor. Dishes that are usually chosen with white wine will also suit namazake.
Any type of cheese, tofu dishes like yudofu (tofu, vegetables, and green onions cooked in a seaweed-based soup), shellfish dishes like grilled oyster and butter grilled scallops, and chicken dishes like yakitori and chicken sauté, would be great with namazake.

*The photo is for illustrative purposes.

4. For Jukuseishu

Jukuseishu is a long term aged sake with a distinct sweetness and rich aroma. Dishes that would suit this particular type of sake should also have a bold and characteristic flavor.
For example, eel grilled with a sweet sauce, would be perfect for jukuseishu.
Additionally, European foods like cheese and tomato pizza, or meatloaf cooked in brown sauce, would also pair well with jukuseishu.

*The photo is for illustrative purposes.

5. Others (Honjouzou, Futsuushu)

Honjouzou and futsuushu(non-premium sake) are types of Japanese sake that are commonly offered in izakaya. They are made with less distinct characteristics and aromas, to match various kinds of food. They pair especially well with classic izakaya dishes like a grilled fish (commonly mackerel), hiyayakko (cold tofu with different toppings such as but not limited to spring onion and soy sauce), pickled vegetables, and Japanese-style omelet.

*The photo is for illustrative purpose.

These dishes are offered merely as examples. They may differ depending on the season, the style of izakaya and on your own preferences. Please search for your own favorite combination with sake.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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