Yoramu is a sake bar in Kyoto whose mission is to show how varied and different nihonshu can be. The owner, Yoram, is fluent both in English and Japanese. He has a strong passion for quality, original, complex sake and for sharing his knowledge.
For example, the owner will start a tasting with unfiltered, rich and complex nihonshu. Then, he might served one with high acidity and high sugar, to explain how the acidity cancels the sugar. He might serve one that is slightly sparkling, because it was bottled directly out of the press. Each of his nihonshu has something unique. He ages sake himself and will serve different sake at different temperatures.
I have been twice and people invariably ask the same questions, and he provides the same answers every night. Yet, he maintains his passion and enthusiasm for explaining and sharing his experience. People will ask: “Where is this sake from?” and he will reply “It doesn’t matter where it is from, what matters is who made it.”
I asked him what are the biggest misconceptions about sake. He said:
1) “Nihonshu made from more polished rice is better.” Would you want to drink a wine that hardly contains any grapes?
2) Trying to explain nihonshu the way you explain wine (i.e. focused on the grape) is very simplistic, bordering on idiotic. It’s not just the rice, not just the water, not just the yeast, not just the koji, not just the “moto” (the starter mash) and not just the fermentation process. It’s all of these things and much more.
I also asked him what his favorite sake breweries are. He shared with me the following list:
Akishika Shuzo, Kidoizumi Shuzo, Kirei Shuzo, Moriki Shuzo, Mukai Shuzo, Mutemuka, Mioya Shuzo, Sugii Shuzo, Uehara Shuzo.
One time when I was there, he explained for 20 minutes non-stop the entire process of sake making. Yoramu sake bar was a memorable experience and it is worth going more than once, as he has too many sake for you to try all at once, and behind every single bottle, there is a unique sake and a unique story. Yoramu is not expensive, I believe each sake would cost on average less than 400円 each. I had 14 different ones at my latest visit.
I asked him if there is a brewery that we can visit, and he said: “The making of nihonshu is very, very interesting when you see it happen, but once the brewing is finished there is absolutely nothing to see. However, during the season where they make it, most places making quality sake are using all of their resources for making the brew, and as they are very short on manpower, an unscheduled visit is not possible. The little time they can afford for scheduled visits is reserved for professionals. Therefore, the problem is where you can visit you don’t want to and where you want to visit you can’t.” Like everything worth seeking, there are no easy answers. I recommend the movie "The Birth of Sake" if you would like to learn more.
Reservations: You can walk in, but he speaks perfect English so calling ahead is recommended because the small bar may be full. Link to his website.
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