Upon arrival, the staff will ask which of seven sake-brewing regions (each of which has its own kura, or room) you would like to visit. Each kura features its own drinks list, and uses sake from its specific region as the base for the 100-plus cocktails on the menu. Indecisive souls can camp out in the central open area where sake from all the different regions is available, but the kura offer relative peace and privacy and you are free to move elsewhere later should you wish.
While sake replaces vodka or gin in many of the menu’s cocktails, Sake Hall is staking its credentials on two original creations, the “Sake nic” (¥580) and the “Sake espuma” (from ¥630). On a recent visit after work, the former was a welcome start to the evening’s proceedings; a dry and refreshing spritzer-like beverage intended to quench one’s thirst on a scorching day. The sake is mixed with a half tonic, half soda water blend, a sliver of orange peel lending color and fragrance.
The kitchen also embraces the use of sake in its bar snacks but the sake kasu selection (five dishes, ¥1,880) was a hit-and-miss affair. Next time we’ll order the standout items—succulent pork and cabbage and celery pickles—separately. Our taste buds were affronted when tinned champignons appeared in the grilled shrimp and mushrooms in oil (¥680), but our faith in the food menu was restored with an order of “avocado fritto” (¥500), crumbed, shallow-fried batons of the fruit sitting upright on a bed of tartare sauce.
A standout from the Ooyama kura room was the food-friendly Tomizu (¥530), a robust junmaishu that uses less water in the brewing process than normal sake. We later journeyed to Nara for a glass of the Harushika junmai ginjyo (¥720). Imparting a cool, clean aftertaste, it made a refreshing summer tipple. Also enjoyable was Miyagi Prefecture’s Ichinokura Hiyakoi (¥720), an aromatic honjozo namazake that had a silky, lingering bite.
No matter whether you’re after a fine selection of sake or a different take on the cocktail, Sake Hall Hibiya Bar offers a relaxed and comfortable venue for nihonshu novices and sophisticated initiates alike.