A Walk through Seattle: Discovering a Retail Sake Bar Called Sake Nomi

While walking through Seattle, my friend and I was looking for an izakaya-type restaurant to enjoy grilled meats and good sake. After wandering around Pike Place, a wine vendor recommended us to try a “legit” place called Sake Nomi.


A small sign on the sidewalk directs the wandering customer into a sake bar

Tucked along a small narrow street in Pioneer Square, Sake Nomi is a small retail Sake shop with a Sake tasting bar. Upon entering Sake Nomi (translating to drink sake), the customer is confronted with a plethora of shelves stocking various Sake bottles, barrels, and labels.

Sake Shop

The sake “bar” is really a sake specialty shop with all kinds of sake

The owner, Johnnie, opened Sake Nomi with his wife Taiko after traveling in Japan for years. It would be a mistake to think of Sake Nomi as a regular sake bar or an izakaya – as I had originally expected. Rather, Sake Nomi is a retail sake shop with a bar table to serve sake tasting. To be fair, Sake Nomi is true to its mission – to support the passion of Sake enthusiast. There is a variety of premium sake types and sake flights available for tasting at the bar. While Johnnie is certainly knowledgeable about each type of sake and the whole sake brewing process, the customer is often referred to an informational pamphlet or a video of the sake making process in the wide-screen TV in front of the bar (which would otherwise be showing a local sports game).


Sake tasting information guide and menu options

My friend and I had to try a flight of their premium sake – three 2 oz. pours of a sake ranging from dry to sweet. In addition, each sake had its own interesting flavor profile that one would not normally experience in a normal restaurant’s sake selection.


Kikizaki sampler of 3 diverse tasting sakes

Overall, the quality and selection of the sake was top-notch. While tasting each cup of sake, the variation in sweetness and body of the sake was very apparent. It’s pretty amazing to be able to generate such a range of tastes and flavors from using the same rice as a base. The change of flavor comes mostly from the various ways of processing and brewing the rice.

I would definitely recommend Sake Nomi for any sake enthusiast interested in a venue where the focus is solely sake. The only drawback to Sake Nomi is that they do not serve food… which I believe is a lost for them as sake pairing would go very well with some sushi or yakitori.

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