Beer is beer, wine is wine, but nothing is quite like sake. The ancient Japanese drink is the perfect size, strength and potency to make just about any night on the town feel that much better. But sake isn’t just for sushi places and formal gatherings, no, sake is in plenty of killer Orange County bars and ready for your enjoyment.
Shabu Shabu Bar
1945 E. 17th St., Suite 108
Santa Ana, CA 92705
With over 1,100 Yelp reviews and thousands of satisfied clients, Shabu Shabu Bar is at the top when it comes to sake in Orange County. This Santa Ana joint is always in high demand, so call ahead in order to get your table reserved and make sure to order that sake as soon as you are seated to ensure the night goes smoothly. The place serves food hot pot style and caters to large groups, but having a seat by the bar and ordering sake after sake will do you just fine. The employees are always helpful and can steer you toward the right type of sake to pair nicely with your meal. Bring your appetite and your love for sake and you will not leave unsatisfied.
Ohshima Japanese Cuisine
1956 N. Tustin St.
Orange, CA 92865
Ohshima rivals some of the best sushi joints around the world, and not just in the fish and rice department. Its sake selection is as bold as the flavor and it matches up with each nigiri selection just right. This is another place that requires a reservation if you don’t want your stomach rumbling along with the dozens that did not think ahead. This is definitely one of the pricier joints in the area, but worth it for the authentic cuisine and excellent sake. Unlike other places, the staff is unable to take a shot with you so don’t offer that precious sake to anyone other than your friends and family.
San Shi Go
205 Main St.
Newport Beach, CA 92661
San Shi Go offers sake by the water, nuzzled on a tiny peninsula in Newport Beach. The downtown setting is pleasant for a good meal and the sake menu is stocked well enough to allow for multiple trips and no repeat choices. Beyond the sake shots and bombs, some of the meals and meats are cooked in sake to get an even sweeter taste. Even cooler, the sake ice cream is a nice treat for those looking to be a little more adventurous in the sake department. San Shi Go has a house hot sake specific to that location, so ask your server for a bottle before you leave.
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101 Bayview Place
Newport Beach, CA 92660
This place gets a little sake crazy, with plenty of traditional choices and even some sake pudding. Kitayama offers the best scenery in which sake should be enjoyed, including a garden setting or even a private dining area if you want to enjoy it alone. The menu claims to offer a variety of sake not found anywhere else, and those unable to read Japanese will probably have a tough time validating that claim. Either way, this classy bar and restaurant will make sure your sake experience goes down as smoothly as the drink itself.
3333 Bear St., Suite 320
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Hamamori is a local favorite of the sake and sushi crowd, offering a unique blend of traditional Japanese cuisine and modern mixology. The mojitos are blended with sake, such as plum or something else sweet, in order to create a drink that is truly unique. In fact, a lot of the sake choices are sweet and go well with your meal if you are in the mood for something light and airy, instead of steaks and fried fish. Even better, ordering a bottle of sparkling sake will ensure your special night seems that much more special, as will the wine and champagne glasses they get poured into.
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