Bring Your Own Izakaya – Texas Saké Co

Yuki Tacata standing next to Tomoko behind the counter
Yuki Tacata with Tomoko Hetherington at Texas Saké Co
Friday night we had a wonderful time at Texas Saké Co. This was the closest thing I remember having in the United States to the authentic Japanese Izakaya experience.

It has been about a year since Adam Blumenshein and Tim Klatt relaunched Texas Saké Co with Jeff Bell as the toji (head brewer). Since that time, Jeff has completely revamped the Saké production approach and come up with a new distinctive label for their bottles. Both are great improvements!

Recently Yuki Tacata has joined Jeff as an employee (perhaps *THE* employee?) helping all around with the production and marketing of the product. Yuki is currently operating their tasting room Friday and Saturday evenings from 5:30PM. She doesn’t have much in the way of food other than a few pretzels, but guests are welcome to bring their own. The Saké itself is delicious and very reasonably priced. Last Friday she was serving a Junmai (clear) as well as a Nigori (unfiltered) as well as a special raw Saké – all of which were wonderful.

Some Assembly Required

Of course, you can simply go and enjoy the Saké in the authentic, cozy, Izakaya atmosphere. However, I DO like to have a little bit to eat while imbibing, so some preparation was in order.

Whole Foods

Bag of Japanese edamame crisps by Calbee
Calbee Snapea Crisps
First stop was Whole Foods.

Of course, the very quintessential snack for drinking in Japan is Edamame – steamed and salted soy been pods. These are slightly cumbersome to prepare and transport. Fortunately, Whole Foods sells Snapea Crisps by Calbee – a Japanese snack manufacturer. These are essentially edamame in a crispy snack format. Perfect!

Package of Beef Jerky with Sesame Ginger flavor
Sesame Ginger Beef Jerky
The next classic Japanese drinking food is Surume or salted, dried, shredded squid. Surume is not so easy to come by and also happens to be one of the few Japanese foods I have never quite warmed up to. For me surume is vaguely reminiscent of chewing on shreds of used truck tires which have an overpowering fishy flavor. At Whole Foods, I was able to find a perfect substitute: Sesame Ginger Beef Jerky. Chewy. Salty. With a pleasantly Asian-Fusion flavor.

Asahi Imports

White car parked in front of Asahi Imports
Asahi Imports has Hand-Made Onigiri
Next stop: Asahi Imports …. which has wonderful handmade Onigiri – triangular Japanese rice balls. …which were unfortunately, all sold out. <:-( Oh, no.

D K Sushi & Seoul Asian Food Market

Car in front of D K Sushi
DK Sushi is not a Market Anymore
Idea! We will stop by D K Sushi & Seoul Asian Food Market and pick something up! We used to visit this market all the time when our kids were first born. Unfortunately, the market part seems to have disappeared and the current establishment seems to be a sushi-themed karaoke lounge – not what we were looking for.

Tactical Retreat – KFC

At this point we cut our loses and went through the drive-thru lane of a nearby KFC. Not fabulous, but the chicken fingers sort of worked. Next time, we will have to work a little harder at preparing the onigiri at home.

Ready to Drink

Tomoko Hetherington in front of Texas Saké
Arriving at Texas Saké Company
Fortunately, the minor SNAFU with onigiri that turned into KFC chicken fingers did not impact the rest of the evening at all. The tasting room is in the rear of the building. When we arrived, one other couple was there and another regular dropped by. It was very sociable.

two glasses of sake with a plate of snacks
Calbee Pea Snacks and Sesame Ginger Jerky
Picture shows Yuki taking bottles of sake from the refrigerator
Yuki Tacata Serving Sake
All in all it was a delightful evening! We will definitely be back, albeit with home-made onigiri for the occasion.

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