Best Saké in Watertown (Massachusetts)

Posted by bmountain | Posted in Restaurants, Sake | Posted on 09-01-2012

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced high-quality sushi experience in the inner Boston suburbs, look no further than New Ginza on Galen St in Watertown.  I’ve been thereNew Ginza numerous times and whether looking for a quick lunch, or an extended evening with friends, I have never been disappointed.  New Ginza is probably the best value for the money in the greater Boston area and I’d challenge anyone to suggest better.

Recently I made plans to meet old friend Jeff Laughlin for dinner at New Ginza.  Jeff’s actually not that old, but he was moving a little more slowly than usual due to a broken arm from a heavy bag punching session.  Jeff and I knew each other from our competitive days when Jeff went to UMass Amherst and competed against my team at UMass Lowell.  Jeff’s teams were never able to prevail against the fearsome group from U Lowell and I think it pains him to this day as when I bring it up that tic comes back to his left eye which reminds me to circle to his left where he was always vulnerable, especially to a high section right counterpunch.  When he’s not beating up people or inanimate objects Jeff’s a high-tech entrepreneur having successfully built and sold multiple companies.  Jeff and I brainstormed over one of his more recent ideas over sushi and saké.  As always it was fascinating, combining areas of his experience in a way that seems unique and potentially explosive.

As in the past we kept it simple and ordered a boat of sushi and left it to the chefs to put together.  They did not disappoint.  The eel is my favorite there and it was done to perfection, just the right temperature and the sauce was sweet enough to complement the taste of the eel without overpowering it.  The portions were generous and by the end we were challenged to put the final pieces away, as good as they were.

Unlike many other sushi places in the suburbs, the saké list at New Ginza is quite good.  The menu starts with the usual Hakushika and Momokawa entry-level brands, good value, consistent and drinkable, and some others that are not so common.  We started with a Setsugetsu Bijin Ginjo.  I found this to be a very interesting Saké, very earthy and quite different from so many other sakés that go for a crisper taste.  I’ve put this on my list of Sakés to Drink with Cigars as it has the kind of boldness that could hold up to a good robusto.  Setsugetsu Bijin is actaully a Junmai Ginjo from the Oimatsu Brewery in the Oita Prefecture, 14.5% alcohol, SMV +3.  My research revealed a negative review on one prominent saké blog which I felt was unfair, perhaps this brand might not appeal to saké snobs.  Other blogs had it mis-categorized and didn’t even mention the earthy tones, can’t imagine the reviewer could have possible tried it.  Advice to readers is to give this one a chance.

Served with a few small savory items. This was our ‘meal’ before the onslaught of desserts began. Setsugetsu Bijin was served at our November BYOS event and I wasn’t blown away then or now with this sake. It was definitely more earthy and less polished than sakes I’ve had from Niigata for example. The nose had a touch of sweetness and the palate was a bit lifeless. Onward and upward.

We then moved on to a Mouriko Dai Ginjo.  The Mouriko is a mild, slightly dry Sake with refreshing aroma and a hint of mint flavor.  SMV of +4, alcohol 14%. The Mouriko was clean and transitioned well from sushi to the green tea ice cream served with whipped cream and a cherry.  Our server was Rita who was friendly and knew her way around the menu.  Of course one of the best things about New Ginza is the lack of sticker shock when the check comes.  I’ll certainly be back there again.

New Ginza
65 Galen Street
Watertown, MA 02472-4503
(617) 923-2100

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