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Dining: In Search of Sake

Or, the curse of the Sake Column


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(page 4 of 4)

The key was to eat all three elements at once spread on a toast triangle: It added up to more than the sum of its parts.

Soft cheese—especially a salty, flavored cheese like Boursin—goes remarkably well with sake. Genius has 50 sake selections (which they claim, incorrectly, is half the sakes available in Honolulu, it’s more like a third).

To spare you from working your way through the honjozos and daiginjos, they also offer some major, high-quality sakes in samplers. For $11, you get a nifty wooden tray holding a 2-ounce glass of three different sakes. That’s cheaper than ordering a full 6-ounce glass of any one of them.

Each sampler tray comes with a helpful guide, telling you which sake is which and giving you a little promo copy on each one.

They are mainstream sakes, no real surprises, but they include a few that everyone should taste. Tedorigawa Yamahai Daiginjo (“Chrysanthemum Meadow”), which starts out all honey on the tongue, a little spicy like the scent of chrysanthemums, and then goes light as spring water. Kamoizumi Junmai Daiginjo (“Autumn Elixir”) works if you’re tired of clean, mild sakes and want some bitterness and earthy overtones. Finally, Dewazakura Dewasansan (“Green Ridge”), which is supposed to taste of melons with a green apple finish, but to me tastes of, you guessed it, distilled moonlight.

“Enough with the alcohol,” said my wife. “Dessert.” With joy, she tucked into the banana cake (more like banana bread) with its scoop of chocolate ice cream. “There’s something wonderful in this cake,” she said. “What is it?”

I tasted it. Rum, poured on rather than baked in.  Not sake, but not bad, either.

Dinner with a couple of sake samplers and tip was $85.

Third time’s a charm. As I write this, Genius Lounge is still open. However, given my track record this month: If you’ve got your heart set on eating there, you might want to hurry.       

John Heckathorn has been writing award-winning restaurant reviews for HONOLULU Magazine since 1984.   

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