Last Thursday Nick Coldicott, was in town and invited me out to sake bar Yoramu. Nick is the editor of Time Out Shortlist Kyoto and also writes a drinks column for the Japan Times, so when he said that Yoramu was his favorite bar, I was naturally intrigued. Yoramu lived up to his promise. The master, Yoram, a quietly spoken Israeli perfectly fluent in English and Japanese, gently guides his customers through an impressive variety of flavors and happily explains how each fine beverage is made. Speaking honestly, I know nothing about sake – or I didn’t until I visited this bar – but one evening there is an education and a tasty one at that! I felt like a whole new fascinating world of booze had been opened up to me and Nick himself admitted “I never cared about nihonshu until I came here”. Many thanks are due to the calm yet charismatic master, Yoram. His passion for nihonshu and his enthusiasm is infectious.
That evening I realised that despite being made from very simple ingredients, sake has seemingly boundless potential in terms of taste. Yoram has a very fine and distinctive selection. One highlight of the evening was the sherry-like sake Omi Jikijoshu. Yoram explained that the makers add an application of sake in order to raise the level of alcohol quickly. This stops the fermentation while there is still a lot of sugar in the sake and thus creates that unique sherry sweet taste. Another sake variety, Ineburimaru tasted very like stout beer! This is made in a village called Ine in the north of Kyoto prefecture. They used to fish a lot of buri there and this history is celebrated in the label’s design.
This is a small bar (seats about ten), with an intimate and super relaxed atmosphere. If you are a beginner with nihonshu, Yoram recommends trying a tasting set of three types so you can get your bearings before you begin to explore nihonshu’s infinite possibilities. He also has an impressive range of snacks to complement the drinks, ranging from Japanese namafudengaku (deep fried gluten) to halumi grilled cheese and falafel from his own native Middle East. All of the snacks are vegetarian, but Yoram was keen to insist on the point that the sake takes precedent. Please write, he told me, that this is a place for people who want to drink – not to eat!
Sake Bar Yoramu is located on the south side of Nijo in between Higashinotoin and Ainomachi. Here is a map. It is open from 18:00 ~ 24:00 Wednesday ~ Saturday and closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. Tel: 075-213-1512 During the day there is a soba noodle restaurant in the same spot which also has a good reputation, it is open from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Read more about Sake Bar Yoramu here.
Many thanks to Nick Coldicott for a great recommendation!