Kata Robata Has a Week of Specials Starting on World Sake Day

Since 1978, World Sake Day, or Nihonshu no Hi as it is known in Japan, has been celebrated on October 1 — the first day of sake making season. In Houston, Kata Robata is the place to commemorate the end of the rice harvest and the beginning of fermentation. From October 1 through 7, this classic Houston Japanese restaurant is offering celebratory sake specials to dine-in and to-go customers.

Diners inside the restaurant can try three premium sakes for $20 by ordering the featured flight, which consists of 2-ounce pours of each. This line up features the rare Rihaku “Dreamy Clouds” Tokubetsu Junmai Nigori, the savory Kanbara “Bride of the Fox” Junmai Ginjo and the velvety Konteki “Tears of Dawn” Daiginjo. It is available October 1 through 7.

For to-go guests, Kata Robata has planned a special take-out kit of three 300-milliliter bottles of sake and a decadent chirashi, a rice bowl topped with anago (eel), otoro (fatty tuna), ikura (salmon roe), Dungeness crab, madai (red sea bream) with caviar and West Coast and Japanese uni (sea urchin roe). The featured sakes for this takeout special are the smooth Kubota Senjyu Ginjo, easy-drinking Kamotsuru Itteki Nyuukon Junmai Ginjo and the signature Nanbu Bijin Tokubetsu Junmai. Only 60 orders of this World Sake celebration kit are available and it is only being sold on October 1. The cost is $130. To reserve one, send an email. Pickup is between 5 and 6 p.m. 

In addition, dine-in and to-go guests can purchase the well-reviewed Dassai “23” Junmai Daiginjo, a super premium sake that is complex, full bodied, yet silky and refreshing. The 300-milliliter bottle, which is normally $80, will be available for the discounted price of $65 from October 1 through 7.

Though it’s difficult to determine the exact origins of sake, evidence suggests it has been part of Japanese culture for at least 2,000 years. Since then, this fermented rice beverage has been regarded as an important component of the Japanese diet, and it is brewed throughout the country. In addition, some believe it has many health benefits ranging from reduced risk of cancer and diabetes to improved appearance of skin and hair due to amino acids, probiotics and peptides.

In Japan, the word “sake” is applied to many types of alcohol, while the drink that Americans refer to as sake is actually called nihonshu, which translates to “Japan’s liquor.” While a crude form of rice alcohol or sake was produced over 2,500 years ago, a more refined version was developed during the eighth century with the discovery of the koji mold enzyme, which is still used in fermentation today. The government and the temples would control production for hundreds of years until new laws were passed in the 19th century allowing for ownership of private breweries. Modern improvements throughout the 20th century led to the product that is recognized as sake today.

dine in sake flight at Kata Robata
The dine-in sake flight for World Sake Day at Kata Robata, from left to right: Konteki “Tears of Dawn” Daiginjo, Kanbara “Bride of the Fox” Junmai Ginjo and Rihaku “Dreamy Clouds” Tokubetsu Junmai Nigori. Photo by Carla Gomez.

Started in Japan by the Japan Sake Brewers Association to recognise sake’s history and contribution to Japanese life and to honor its many skilled brewers, World Sake Day has spread outside of Japan. Now, sake lovers around the world participate in the day’s activities.

Kata Robata takes sake seriously all year. Many of its management staff, including executive chef Manabu Horiuchi and assistant general manager Emmanuelle Massicot, are certified sake specialists. They try to ensure that Kata Robata’s menu features the best selection of sake available in the city. For this global celebration, they’re stepping it up even more and have added options both for people who like to dine in and for those who prefer taking it home.

This World Sake Day, whether dining in or to go, Kata Robata is an ideal place in Houston for lifting a glass and hollering “Kanpai!” (the Japanese equivalent of “cheers”).

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