Sake Series - a tasting experience - Dai Pai Dong, Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi

The French are known for their fine cuisine, wines and of course Champagne. The Italians too have given us so many classic dishes, wine and Prosecco. The Japanese are right up there with their unique cuisine and have even given us another taste, umami. In addition to their superb but under appreciated whiskey, they have also brought us Sake, a rice-based alcoholic drink? And if we are at least familiar with the name, do we actually go to a restaurant and have it? The answer is likely 'No'. 

This is where Rosewood Hotel's weekly Sake Series is trying to right the situation by offering a brief introduction to Sake with a tasting of 4 different sake, accompanied by light bites from the fantastic menu at their Cantonese restaurant, Dai Pai Dong. The bar is exquisite, and while it is part of the restaurant, it has 'destination in its own right' written all over it. This gem of a bar has not yet been discovered by most people, which is a shame. It is classy, elegant and intimate. 

We have 4 different sake to taste while Constantine and Vikek talk us through  the making of sake. Because we are more familiar with grape-based alcohols, I appreciate the way they, in turn, make comparisons to wine, so that the concepts are easy to understand. But it is super relaxed, so I do not feel intimidated at all as we talk about tasting notes. 

All in all, our tasting experience takes us from the basic Kikusui through to the Ouka Ginjo, the Isake Classic and finally the Junmai dai Ginjo. As we progress, we experience more complexity. I like that ultimately you can decide which you prefer best, much like with wine. There is no embarrassment, for example, in saying you prefer Sauvignon Blanc to a Chablis because the latter is more complex; the same applies with this evening. What is also great about the series is the tone in which it is conducted. Finally at the end, even a novice will be able to note differences in the 4 sakes tried. 

The Sake Series is a great concept. The challenge will be for guests who have been spoilt in Abu Dhabi by 'drink as much you want' evenings, ladies' nights and brunches. This is not like that. This series appeals to those seeking a genuine pathway to learning about a drink that has been around for hundreds of years. Also, I would recommend it as a precursor to dinner as it lasts about an hour or so.  Finally, sake is a wonderful drink, but is so much more than that. It is a genuine slice of one of the richest cultures in the world, and if an evening like this whets your desire to find out even more about it, why not? 

The Essentials

Dai Pai Dong

Rosewood Hotel, 
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 813 5573

The Sake series costs 150AED ++