While sake bars are by no means a novelty these days, the not-so-new Nomi Tomo in Plaza Damansara, Damansara Heights is still quite a remarkable find in Malaysia. Taking a refreshingly relaxed attitude to Japan’s most popular spirit, the people behind Kuala Lumpur’s first-ever establishment dedicated solely towards the science of sake are looking to spotlight that one drink that no-one seems to know everything about, unlike, say, Scotch for instance…
Offering an extensive selection of bottles aimed at novice drinkers and seasoned sake lovers alike, The Peak was recently invited there to see what this hideaway is bringing to the mix.
First of all, Nomi Tomo literally means “Drinking Buddies” in Japanese. Established in 2015 out of a passion for quality sake and, perhaps more importantly, a celebration of friendship, it’s certainly fitting that Kuala Lumpur’s pioneering sake speciality bar is an establishment that is blessed with a homey atmosphere and friendly staff always on hand for a drink recommendation.
True to the concept of a sake bar, it is the perfect venue for casual get-togethers, after-work drinks, or simply for trying something new. This is where customers can enjoy a variety of different sakes that are complemented by a variety of delicious yakitori (various chicken parts grilled on skewers) and donburi (rice bowl dish consisting of fish, meat or vegetables simmered together and served over rice) offerings.
Stock is proudly displayed across the walls of the diminutive front dining space, but there’s absolutely no pressure to know what you’re looking at. There’s a bigger dining space in the back – custom-made for very cosy group dining.
One of the defining features of Nomi Tomo though is the sheer variety of sake available by the bottle. On our visit to Nomi Tomo recently, Teh Kai Zhou was the sake sommelier on duty and began the night with this: “You can classify sake by several factors, including the type of rice used, where it was produced, the degree to which the rice has been polished, brewing processes and how it was filtered.”
From sparkling sake to a range of honjozo, ginjo, and daiginjo sakes that can be served cold, warm or hot, there is literally a variation of sake for every palette at Nomi Tomo.
Starting the night was the Musubiyui Akaiwasan Omachi sake which is produced using the special rice named Akaiwasan Omachi grown up in Okayama prefecture. It’s non-fruity on the nose; light bodied and has a mild finish. Because of its almost benign flavour character, the sake went down extremely well with the variety of yakitori on offer that night.
Next, Teh presented the Masumi Gold. This particular variant was served hot and has a clean and light flavour, with a mild aroma on the nose. The Masumi gold is yet another sake that goes great with pretty much most food pairings.
And perhaps the star of the night was the Sakunohana Junmai Karakuchi. This is a Ginjo sake that uses Nagano’s local rice Hitogokochi. This particular sake variation has a clean fragrance and a gentle umami that spreads within the mouth. With a non-fruity aroma, this medium bodied drink has a clean finish.
“Just like with wine, no sake is the same,” continues Teh. Apparently, there are different flavours to be experienced depending on the variety of rice used, the amount of grain polished prior to fermentation. “Of course, the use of any added flavours or alcohol, and, even the source of the rice and water can make sake vastly different from one bottle to the next.”
At Nomi Tomo, the vision here in educating patrons on the different types and flavours of sake, while elevating the status of the drink around Malaysia – perhaps, the first step towards making ordering sake at any drinking establishment as normal as ordering up, say, a round of vodka, for instance. And true to this, its next promotion is set to be yet another culinary classroom outing for guests, with oysters… and dubbed Shuck Yeah!
Set to kick off on February 19, Nihonshu Oendan – a renowned sake house from Shimane, Japan – and Bangsar’s Southern Rock seafood will be on hand to guide guests through five unique and sumptuous pairings of belly warming craft sakes and funky fresh oysters from every corner of Europe. Guests can also look forward to a Sake & Oyster Masterclass by Nihonshu Oendan founder, Nao Kohara, and have any of questions about the mysteries and enjoyment of sake and oyster answered.
Date: 19 February 2020 (Wednesday)
Time: 8pm till late
Venue: Southern Rock Seafood, Bangsar