Meet Utah’s Sake Ambassadors

Everyone is an expert these days. You can’t just order a cup of coffee—best to order it from a barista who really knows their beans and brew. It’s all about certification—wine sommeliers and beer cicerones and certified cheese experts.

Frankly, it can all get a little bit precious.

But most of us do need help ordering one beverage that’s making its way into the culinary consciousness very quickly. Kris Bodeen and Scott Coulter, owners of Tsunami, and Drew Kawaguchi, Director of Food Operations, insist on sake advisers on staff—their title is Sake Ambassador. Drew, Kris and Scott travel to California at least once a year to sample new and different sakes, and depending on what they like, bring in these specialty sakes to Utah to be exclusively sold at Tsunami. 

IF YOU GO Address: Various locations Web: Phone: 801-948-9932  Entrees: $$ (Moderate)

Jill Watanabe, Drew Kawaguchi, Julie Hiatt and Shawn Pettry have been through the extreme training course—we spoke with Watanabe, who learned from the Sake School of America. “There’s just not a lot of selection through the DABC,” she says. (ed note: No surprise.) And a lot of what they do have on the shelves was originally brought in for Tsunami.

Even though all sake involves just four ingredients—rice, water, yeast and a mold called koji-king—there are dozens of sake variations, depending on the amount of rice polished away, the hardness of the water, what kind of yeast is used, the koji  and whether or not the sake is aged or pasteurized. The folks at Tsunami are dedicated to bringing Americans’ sake knowledge at least up to the level of their sushi knowledge, which has finally progressed beyond California rolls.

“We change out our sake lists at least four times a year. Guests can try a variety of sakes that they cannot get anywhere else. We offer sake flights so guests can compare different sake styles and understand how they pair with different dishes on the menu.”

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Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf is the late Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She still does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.

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