While certainly sake is perfect as a drink in and of itself, for those unfamiliar with or still new to sake, there may be a bit of trepidation about what to serve it with at the table.

Sake’s acidic differences from wine places it in unique cuisine pairing positions that is not limited to Japanese or even Asian foods. In fact, quite a few Western dishes are perfectly complimented with sake, the challenge is in discovering which tastes are attractive to the palate.

To be sure, spicy or rich foods will overwhelm sake, so it is best to avoid them while concentrating on the more well-known flavor and aroma elements including sweetness, dryness, fruity, earthy, rice-like, herbal or nutty. Other factors to consider in selecting a good dish are structure, volume, acidity, and texture. But there is one further, very special flavor connection to Japanese culture and cuisine within sake: umami.

The Umami Information Center in Tokyo which specializes in the advancement of umami knowledge defines it as the « fifth basic taste » and a « joining sweet, sour, salty and bitter ». It enhances the flavors of other foods as it is more of a subtle combination of several rather than just one. Sake is rich in umami, containing nearly three times the amount per liter over wine, meaning that sake at the dinner table can create a gourmet extravaganza unlike which most have yet to experience.


  • Sashimi
  • Tempura
  • Sushi
  • Yakitori
  • Cheese