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Sake Sommelier Chizuko Niikawa of Sakagura Serves $100 Bottles to Jean-Georges

For three years Chizuko Niikawa has been a sake sommelier at hideaway Sakagura, the restaurant in the bowels of a midtown office building. In that time she’s served everyone from clueless first-daters to one of Japan’s most notorious soccer players (who apparently gets his feathers ruffled if he’s served vegetables) to a certain famous chef that she then knew only as Mr. Kakunko, a reference to his proclivity for dining at the bar with his favorite $100 bottle of sake for company. We asked her to clue us in about the art of sake.

Drink Japan Without Leaving Little Italy

sake
Sake has been the next big trend for so long that we’ve been loathe to recognize it now that it’s actually arriving. If, like us, you're utterly mystified by the stuff (not being able to read the bottle is part of it), check out the Joy of Sake next week. The city's biggest sake event will hit the Puck Building on Thursday featuring 300 different sakes, at least a third of which aren't available outside of Japan. The restaurant lineup looks good too: Seventeen restaurants are creating dishes meant to be paired with sake, including wd-50, Sakagura, and 15 East. Tickets are $75 in advance, $90 at the door. Joy of Sake [Official Site]