02 Jul SAKESTAND – Tokyo Travel
The most worthwhile places to spend your time and money are often local businesses run by enthusiasts in love with what they do. Take SAKESTAND, a small but perfectly formed bar dedicated to all things sake. It had been the owner’s dream to open a sake bar of her own and in conversation with her you can feel that entrepreneurial joy. What she has created is a hidden watering hole where sake obsessives and novices alike can mingle and explore the diversity of Japanese rice wine. I was first introduced here in 2016 on our quartet tour as Trinity Laban Fellows. We went in a group which was great for sampling each other’s choices!
You need to keep your eyes peeled for the entrance to SAKESTAND. They usually place a chalkboard on the main road pointing you in the right direction. Once you’ve got past the unlikely outer door, go up a few steps and soon the appearance of walls pasted with sake labels will leave you in no doubt of your arrival! Wind your way up to the cosy lights and you’ll conveniently find yourself at the bar. There are often a handful of regulars having a chat with staff over bar snacks and a cold glass of the good stuff. Outside the far window you might notice the music shop opposite with its ‘VIOLINS, VIOLAS, CELLOS sign…you just can’t escape! 😂
When choosing sake, they ask you your preferences similar to what you might do when selecting a wine – such as whether you prefer dry, sweet, fruity or spicy flavours. I tend towards the sweeter side. The last time I was here they recommended Amabuki sake, which is now my ultimate sake! Very fresh with notes of apple. Sadly they didn’t have any on this occasion so I tried the Sawaya Matsumoto from Kyoto, another delicious suggestion. I love the clarity of sake, it’s a beautiful drink. There are so many varieties due to the type of rice used, how you wash it, whether you use a special local mineral water for the washing and that’s before you even get to the fermentation process itself! You can also get sakes which are to be served hot rather than chilled.
On the stem of each glass they add a tag that tells you the type of sake, where it’s from and the history of the brewery and the people who produce it. It’s fascinating information and the staff are extremely knowledgeable. Stacked against the windowsill are laminated old sake labels, brands which have been discontinued or perhaps were limited edition or seasonal. Of course they’re arranged in alphabetical order, this is Japan 🙂 They’re fun to browse through and also a good conversation starter with locals.
You can be sure of a good drink at SAKESTAND. Staff know exactly what to recommend to your personal taste. It’s dangerously delicious and you will want to try them all! With each glass being under ¥490 (£3.35) you will certainly be able to try more than a few. Another example of fabulous quality for a ridiculously affordable price. Definitely stop by here as part of your night out in the Shibuya area!
Total receipt (2 people): ¥980 (roughly £7)
2 x glass Sawaya Matsumoto
Rating: 10/10 Sake Sensation!!