Emeryville Chef: Serve Sake at the Holidays

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


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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