What Sake really is and why it is definitely worth a try


Actually wanted to be a Motoko Watanabe is a scientist. So that’s why she has a degree in biology and neuroscience, she thought she would be in a laboratory and do research. But everything came differently. The native Tokioterin met her Israeli husband and moved in with him four dining concepts in New York City and Berlin. In addition, Watanabe is a trained Sake sommelier. You must think of this as a sommelier for wine. With your Knowledge and your cultural Background, you want to bring to the people of Sake and the Japanese food culture in more detail. Watanabe commutes between New York City, Tokyo and Berlin. Currently, she lives in our nation’s capital.

Mrs Watanabe, you are a Sake sommelier. Most of us believe that Sake is a rice liquor. But that is not true at all. What is it with the Japanese drink on yourself?

Sake is brewed like beer and is drunk like wine. Sake is made 100 percent from rice, it is not a liquor is 40 percent alcohol by volume, but usually has between 15 and 19 percent. So, almost like wine. You should drink it to eat. Sake has a centuries-old Tradition. Previously, there was in each village a brewery.

does not Taste the Sake in the same way?

The selection of Sake in Germany is very limited. Maybe you have therefore the impression. Therefore, I feel obliged to bring more Sake into the country. I see myself as an Ambassador for Sake and Japanese food culture. As a sommelier, I’m kind of the bridge between the brewers and the consumers. Just as there are, for example, different varieties of grapes, for white wine, different Sake. It is unfiltered Sake, which are milky-turbid, aged Sake, like a port wine, it gives you earthy sprudelig like champagne, a taste of fruity, other. The differences are immense.


Motoko Watanabe (40) is born in Tokyo, and owner of two Restaurants and two Cafés, each one of them in New York City and in Berlin.

©Augusta Leigh,

For Sake requires rice. It is produced with the varieties there are in the supermarket?

no, for the Sake needs a special variety of rice. The Sake rice grain has a large white core. Only used for the production, by pounding the core quite fine. Sake rice is up to 100 percent more expensive than the normal Japanese rice, because the cultivation is more expensive. The plants are larger, thus more vulnerable to crop failures. That is why Sake is one of the most expensive alcoholic beverages in the world.

What you pay for a good Sake?

Well that depends on the production, the more craftsmanship, the steps, the more expensive. On average, about 50 to 150 Euro for a good bottle of Sake.

they say Sake is like beer, but drank it like wine. How is it made, exactly?

It is a classic fermentation process. First of all, you need to dampen the rice ‘al dente’, then one dries the grains, and sprayed with a special mould, which is for the Sake of production is essential. Then you put the grains in a Tank, where with lactic acid bacteria and yeast are mixed. Then the brewing process begins. At the end of the basic ingredients of rice, water and yeast to decide on the quality of the Sake.

How many Breweries are there in Japan?

About 1300. But every day to disappear more and more. Some Breweries have been around for hundreds of years. From Generation to Generation. But it is becoming more difficult to find a successor to, when the young no longer want to step in.

What Sake would you recommend for beginners?

The Europeans like nothing recommend spirits to eat, so I would beginners a light and fresh Sake. For example, a sprudeligen Sake as an Aperitif, with only 13 percent alcohol by volume. As a light wine, slightly sweet, but very drinkable. In General, I question, but always according to the preferences of the guests. Whether you prefer something Fruity and Light, or something Strong and Earthy drink.

In Hamburg there is a Japanese Restaurant that serves Ramen (Japanese noodle soups). Choice of two Sake. Cold or hot. What’s up with that?

This is when she would write only ‘white wine and red wine’ on the map. You can chilled Sake easily, at room temperature or hot drink. The suitable drinking temperature depends on the type. Fruity Sake drinks tend to be cooled, strong also warmed.

operate two Restaurants and two cafes. The Café “House of Small Wonder” and the Fine Dining Restaurant “Zenkichi”, respectively, in New York City and in Berlin. What is the difference between the Restaurants in Berlin and in New York City?

The concepts are the same in both cities the same, and unite in one thing: to food, as in Japan. We serve a Japanese menu, and not adapting to the eating habits of the respective countries. Some of the guests come to us and confirm that it is not like in Japan. Others do not understand the way of Japanese cuisine, which we explain Detail for Detail, what is it with Japanese food culture to themselves. There is, then, Sake, Appetizer, Sashimi, our homemade Tofu, a Tempura course, a grilled fish with a Miso Marinade, then meat and finally a side dish such as rice or noodles. Traditionally, in Japan there is no Desserts, but we like dessert, so we exit the menu. the

In their Restaurants, they only serve Sake to the Japanese menu. Would Sake also fit to German courts?

In any case. Sake goes very well with cheese, especially if matured. But also dishes with cheese sauce or deep-Fried.

you Have a German favorite dish?

I know it sounds like a cliché. But I love Schnitzel.

A final question: What do you think of Marie Kondo?

(laughs) It is your philosophy, it represents a typical characteristic of the Japanese, which relates to order. It has an almost Buddhist trains. If you visit a temple in Japan, you say the monks first of all, how important it is to keep everything clean. The Brush is supposed to clean the soul.

topics in this article, the Berlin wine New York City Japan food culture beer-New York Restaurant-biology Tokyo, gastronomy, woman brewery in Germany


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