As the foremost sake celebration in the world, the Joy of Sake strives to instill in people a deep sense of appreciation for the sake brewer’s art under Takao Nihei’s guiding belief that “there’s no such thing as a bad sake. Hosted in various locations around the world since 2001, Joy of Sake made its first New York appearance in 2004, after the popularity of premium had already begun to stake it’s claim on a number of prominent restaurant menus.
This year the Joy of Sake made a much needed, highly anticipated return to the Big Apple for a night of eating, drinking, and well, sake. Spread out between two floors within the Altman Building’s wonderful gallery space, the Joy of Sake offered it’s finely dressed attendants unlimited access to a bountiful spread of tables boasting approximately 370 sakes of differing yet equally delicious refinement.
For those of you whose sake knowledge doesn’t extend past doing sake bombs at your favorite L.E.S. sushi bar, the quality of sake is predicated on its rice polishing ratio, i.e. the lower the polishing ratio, the higher the quality. Sake that falls in to the highest quality category is known as Daiginjo A, and believe us when we say that this is the good stuff, as in easily $80 a bottle and up at a classy hibachi place.
Each table, besides being adorned with golden samurai statues and shining silver banzai trees, consisted of at least 10 bottles of sake of the same quality, from Daiginjo A on down to Daiginjo B, Ginjo, and Junmai, with a sampling glass and pipette with which guests could use to serve themselves, though most quickly resorted to pouring themselves bigger and bigger glasses of sake as the night progressed.
At the recommendation of the Joy of Sake, guests also enjoyed small samplings of delicious dishes from a selection of the city’s best restaurants, including Sushisamba, Sun Noodle Ramen Lab, and WD-50. We found Brushstroke’s Oregon Washu Beef Flatiron Stew, Sakagura’s Charred Octopus with okra, and Megu’s Grilled Kanzuri Shrimp to be particularly delicious, and paired very well with the bevy of sakes we were fortunate enough to indulge in.
The Joy of Sake proved to be one of the happiest nights we’ve ever been a part of, and that’s not just the sake talking. Closing out our evening with sweet delicacies from Royce’ Chocolate and a little hot sake to leave us with that cozy, warm, and tingly feeling everyone knows and loves, we can confidently say we left the Joy of Sake with a deeper understanding and appreciation for this ancient brewing art.