Is this sake’s breakout year? We’re getting two sake bars run by high-profile chefs. Later this year, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto will debut Momosan Ramen & Sake in the Chinatown International District. But first up, Hannyatou in Fremont, which is run by chef Mutsuko Soma, who has gotten a lot of ink, including being featured as one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs 2019.
Soma and co-owner Russell King are level-3-certified in sake by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, the equivalent of a sommelier. The duo aims to elevate sake to the pedestal that the mainstream holds for whiskey or pinot. Each sake comes with a detailed description and quirky tasting notes. The Hirezake Seitoku bessen is described as “warmed sake with a dried fugu (blowfish) fin. This 5-oz. pour of bessen is heated to piping hot with a toasted fin. It will make you genki!”
About 25 sakes are featured, with dozens more coming. Hannyatou doubles as a retail store and will also host sake 101 classes. Playing on its fermented-rice-beverage focus, the 20-seat bar (with 15 more seats in the patio garden this summer) offers a menu of fermented noshes such as miso and pickled snacks. For something more substantial, walk two doors over to Kamonegi, Soma’s acclaimed Japanese restaurant. (Soma, by the way, runs one of the city’s best late-night pop-ups. Her ramen night was one of the best I’ve attended in recent years. She runs a bimonthly Japanese comfort-and-street food-pop up.)
1060 N. 39th St. (Fremont), Seattle; hannyatou.com
After taking four months off to remodel, this Capitol Hill brewpub reopened this week, its first major face-lift since it debuted 23 years ago. The hodgepodge chairs have been replaced with a more cohesive, sleek, contemporary look to go with a hipper drink-and-dinner menu.
Elysian is the hometown brewery that received scorn from the craft-beer community when the local owners sold their brewery to Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2015. I recall the words “Evil Empire” used by the haters who opined about the new corporate ownership. This Seattle brewery is trying to win back fans by brewing experimental and smaller batches, which are often associated with the craft-beer movement. Joe Bisacca, one of the original founders, called it “going back to our roots.”
Expect more lagers, sours and farmhouse ales, along with experimental beers using “new strains of hops,” Bisacca said. More taps have also been added, from 15 to 20.
Elysian is taking a page out of Redhook’s playbook. Redhook is another local brewery that became a polarizing brand after it was bought out by a corporation, The Craft Brew Alliance. But two years ago, in its second act, Redhook opened “Brewlab” on hip Capitol Hill, brewing small batches and experimental beers to try to win back the craft-beer crowd.
Elysian’s 185-seat pub will no longer host live shows since it needed the space for fermenters and tanks. The live musical performances will be moved to Elysian Fields, its other brewpub in Sodo. On the food front, a spokeswoman described the menu as “light, bright and vegetable forward.” I would call it gastropub with dishes such as lamb ribs, wild-board bratwurst and sockeye BLT. Elysian celebrates its opening on May 10 by rolling back prices to when it launched on this day in 1996. Pints go for $2.75.
1221 E. Pike St. (Capitol Hill), Seattle; 206-906-9148, elysianbrewing.com