There’s no doubt that sushi requires a certain level of expertise to prepare and appreciate. And just like the variety of sushi available, there are many drink options that can enhance the dining experience. Whether it’s sake, wine, beer, or even whiskey, the right drink can complement and elevate the flavors of your sushi. At 26, we have out-of-this-world selections of cocktails, sake, fine wines — and more. Come visit us for our renowned Happy Hour!
Sushi Amane is one of those hidden, discrete restaurants that you might find in Tokyo. It is down a staircase and has only eight seats. However, it is actually located in Midtown East in New York City, near the United Nations. The multi-course prix fixe is pricey, not surprisingly, but includes some of the most extraordinary fish I have had in either the States or Japan.
The sake and wine selections are numerous on the list. However, I wanted to get chef’s insight about what he prefers most paired with his food. All answers have been edited and condensed for brevity and clarity.
Liza B. Zimmerman (L.B.Z.): Is sushi best paired with wine or sake?
Chef Tomoyuki Hayashi (T.H.): Generally, sake pairs best with sushi, because sake is made from rice but there are occasions when a piece of sushi is better off paired with wine.
L.B.Z.: Or does the pairing depend on the fish and preparation in question?
T.H.: The right choice depends on the preparation of the fish and what spices or seasonings it is prepared with. For example, while I do not do this, some sushi chefs choose to use an olive oil marinade for their fish, which might make the piece of sushi pair better with wine.
L.B.Z.: How do you choose between wine or sake?
T.H.: As sushi is Japanese cuisine, I choose sake of course!
L.B.Z.: What types of wines go best with multiple types of sashimi?
T.H.: I would recommend Chardonnay because it brings out the flavors of the fish.
L.B.Z.: Are there types of sake that are also good with numerous sashimi/sushi preparations?
T.H.: Numerous types of dry sake pair well with many sashimi and sushi preparations.
L.B.Z.: How do you help consumers understand the synergy of these pairings when they may not be that familiar with some of the fish preparations and some of the sakes?
T.H.: Pairing Sake with different pieces of sushi is very similar to balancing the flavors in the piece of sushi itself. For example, if the sushi has a strong fish taste, I will use a stronger tasting sake. In the same way, if a fish is oily, I season it with vinegar, or if it has a sour taste, you can season it with sweetness.
L.B.Z.: Are there any types of specific flavors and textures that go better with one or the other types of fish and preparations?
T.H.: The taste of the rice flavor in sake is good, but if that sake has a high rate of polished rice, then it can generally become a sweeter, more full-bodied drink, which pairs better with many types of sushi.
L.B.Z.: Are almost all the sakes you pair with your dishes dry?
T.H.: Our sake pairing contains a few different types of sake but many of them are dry, and one of my recommendations is off-dry sake.
L.B.Z.: What types of dishes work with off-dry or unfiltered sakes?
T.H.: Off-dry sake is good for dishes that have a strong taste such as Uni and eel, whereas unfiltered Sake is good for Sushi rice.
At sushi AMANE, I use aged fish and vinegar which has strong, umami flavors. Therefore, my sushi won’t need to be paired with strong sake!
Ready to try some exciting drink pairings with your sushi? Come visit our restaurant and let our expert chefs guide you through a culinary journey like no other. Check out one of the many details our restaurant has to offer. Order online or make reservations at 305-570-2626. Find us on Facebook here.