Sake, a popular Japanese liquor made with fermented rice, is a staple in most Asian bars and restaurants. Pittsburgh watering holes have been somewhat slow on the uptake to include this refreshing spirit on their cocktail menu, but fear not – CBS Local has gathered the five best establishments in the area that both offer and cook with sake. Read on for a full list of these bars and restaurants, and whether you’re a seasoned sake aficionado, or new to the concept, visit each to try their expansive offerings.
225 W. Station Square Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
A restaurant named after one of the most beautiful flowers in the world, the chrysanthemum, must have an aesthetically pleasing menu. Fortunately, for the general public, Kiku’s lunch and dinner offerings are bursting with color, flavor and variety. In addition, its sake menu is comprehensive and varied – not many Asian bars in the Pittsburgh area carry Geikeikan Nigori, Zen Tokubetsu Junmai and Hakushika Chokara, in addition to many other brands. Prices are mid-range, and the traditional tea-house atmosphere is perfect for intimate gatherings.
4734 Liberty Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Bloomfield is not a neighborhood traditionally associated with Asian culture – in fact, most residents of this once wholly Italian community shunned any establishment not serving American or Italian cuisine – but times have most certainly changed. Ginza, a quaint, unassuming establishment located right on Liberty Avenue, not only adheres to traditional Japanese cooking methods, it also incorporates many unusual pairings into its offerings. Visit for Ginza’s delicious, homemade sake, and stay for the outstanding service and menu options. Unfortunately, Ginza only offers one version of traditional sake, served hot or cold, but this customary libation is well worth the trip.
4812 McKnight Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15237
A general rule of thumb when trying a new place: go where the locals go. Sushi Tomo caters to its regulars in a big way, and once you’re in at this hidden Pittsburgh gem, you’re in. Check out Sushi Tomo’s extensive sushi offerings, and try one of its two exclusive sake offerings. Junmai-Shu and Ginjo-Shu, both respected in their different brewing classes, are the perfect beginning spirits if you haven’t yet experienced sake’s unusual flavor. A full bar is also available at Sushi Tomo, and is simply bursting at the seams with endless alcoholic combinations.
Related: Best Sushi In Pittsburgh
5849 Ellsworth Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
An out-of-this-world cocktail menu, combined with some of the freshest fish this side of the Atlantic Ocean, makes for an exquisite outing, Umi style. Prices at this posh establishment are not for the faint of heart, but for the adventurous diner. Pair your eel with a crisp, bright carafe of Umi’s finest sake, brimming with floral, bold undertones. Or go all out and order the full omakase menu and a second carafe of sake to enjoy the full extent of this subdued, first-rate Shadyside establishment.
5808 Bryant St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
A nice assortment of Japanese beers and sake, combined with an outstanding okonomiyaki (Japanese street food), will leave you yearning for more. This remarkable teppan bar may be a tad bit ambitious, but has already garnered a solid following in Pittsburgh. Try one of Teppanyaki’s delicious sakes, or tuck in for the night with a flight of spirits, all designed to pair beautifully with one of the griddle options. Space is usually limited at this popular establishment, so be sure to call ahead for a reservation.
Related: Best Bars For Foodies In Pittsburgh
Nikki Tiani-Moroney is a full time mum of two boys, wife of a professional poker player/photographer/amateur pencil-sharpening competitor and writer from Pittsburgh, PA. When she isn’t studiously neglecting her housework in favor of a good book, she’s out simultaneously fighting crime and picking up sidewalk litter while savoring an occasional cigarette. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.