I recently discovered a new sake bar gem on the lower east side called Yopparai. In English, “yopparai” means ‘drunkard’, or ‘I’m drunk’. This hidden away sake sanctuary has a large selection of premium sakes by the carafe and an even larger selection of wonderful sakes by the bottle.

When I spoke with owner Gaku Shibata, he told me his intention was to transport an honest-to-goodness Tokyo sake bar to Manhattan – and I can tell you this has been achieved. No detail was too small from the bag locker under the seat, to the shaved ice chilling every carafe as well as the custom made ochoko cups. Every aspect of this place is right in line with what you would expect in Japan. How awesome is that?!

The food selection is also really, really good. I enjoyed some superior sashimi (with super cute custom cut daikon and carrot butterflies – never seen that before!), some wonderful grilled asparagus and a delicious salted salmon. Everything was top notch and just the sort of food you want to drink with premium sake!

Speaking of sake, over the course of the evening, I ordered three “Go” of sake. A “go” is a single 6 oz serving that is served in a small carafe. you can order 1 or 2 “go” at a time. On this trip, I enjoyed clean and sexy Kudoki Jozu Junmai Ginjo from Yamagata, then rich and umamai-ful Kokuryu Junmai Ginjo from Fukui and finally the smooth and ricey Denshu Tokubetsu Junmai from Aomori.

No joke, the selection is top notch – you can’t ask for much more if you’re looking to explore the world of premium sake. There is no better way to get yopparai then at Yopparai! See you there!


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