Emeryville Chef: Serve Sake at the Holidays

It pairs perfectly with cranberry sauce, says the Periodic Table's executive chef Danny Keiser.


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Image courtesy of The Periodic Table

Danny Keiser, executive chef at The Periodic Table in Emeryville, hopes to spark a new tradition: sake for the holidays.

That is: those jolly forthcoming end-of-the-year Western holidays, whose traditional foods pair very well, Keiser asserts, with the rice-based Japanese spirit.

He recommends the umami-ish nuttiness of Yamada Shoten sake with mashed potatoes and stuffing, for instance, and the creamy, fruity "bounciness" of Shichi Hon Yari with acidic salads and cranberry-based fare.

“Drinks served over the holidays have to play into a sort of seasonal appropriateness,” Keiser said. 

“Thanksgiving, for example, is a fall holiday, but it evokes chilly imagery. The food is warm, bountiful, and hearty — the kind of food that warms a soul on a chilly day. It’s also a rich meal, with lots of starchy foods, so the drink needs to have a refreshing element to it.”

And while warm sake served in warm rooms might seem obvious antidotes to cold weather, “cold sake can also have a place" in the season "and mimic the warmth of holiday drinks, especially if it is full-bodied with a little nuttiness like Shoten.” 

In fact, "sake with a little more body can create the same feeling as warm mulled wine or hot cider. A Muroka Nama Genshu that is more rich and higher in alcohol like Hakugyokko" — which is on The Periodic Table's menu — "could create this sensation. Sweet sake might even have a place, since holiday drinks often have some sweetness to them.”

During the month of December, The Periodic Table is offering shoppers a special deal: Buy one bottle of sake and get the second for 25 percent off. Also, gift cards will be available throughout the month for a special sake-and-cheese pairing plate.

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