Toji Sake Bar: Sake Flight Sets

August 17, 2020

Sake fantasies take flight: Medan Damansara's sleek Toji Sake Bar has launched a new tasting experience with themed sets featuring different types of Japan's best-loved alcoholic beverage, guided by a certified sake sommelier - KL's ideal deep dive for those of us who can't tell our honjozo from our daiginjo.

Take a table with Mount Fuji for your backdrop or sit at the long bar beneath the ambient glow of a paper mache rock suspended from the ceiling, then choose which of Toji's three Sake Flight Sets you want to scale.

Each flight is suitable for two persons, with sakes served in 150-ml carafes, matched with a suitable shot glass, wine glass or ISO glass. The same sake served in a different glass can taste dramatically altered, so we're thankful for the presence of Toji's Master Sake Sommelier Danny Leong, whose passion for and knowledge of sake is remarkable. Danny elevates the evening, shepherding us without prejudicing our opinions before we sip, gently navigating the sometimes-baffling world of sake-brewing and pouring out easy-to-understand insights that make us feel a little smarter about sake.

We boarded the flight that showcases three distinct kinds of sake rice (RM177) - the first sake relies on Mirai rice, the second on Yamada Nishiki (reputedly the king of sake rice, a short-grain, high-quality varietal that absorbs water and dissolves effortlessly) and the third on the Omachi heirloom rice (the oldest known sake rice strain). Each yields its own characteristics for sweetness, earthiness and complexity, one lighter and another more layered, one fruity and floral and another cleaner with a sharper finish, making this quite a journey beyond the conventional house-pouring sakes in most of KL's Japanese joints.

Two other flights introduce three premium-grade sakes and contrast a non-junmai sake against a heavier-bodied junmai.

Even if you don't drink, Toji is more than a bar, with a kitchen that tackles the Japanese equivalent of tapas. The menu explores experimental routes, straying from tried-and-trite izakaya cliches - start with the deep-fried prawn heads, as crunchy and richly briny as expected, jazzed up with ikura, shredded nori and tabasco aioli, the kind of snack you wish were served in a big bucket (RM22).

Toji's chicken katsu is also intriguing, with meat smoked for six hours in a Bertha charcoal oven, resulting in a bacon-like savoury sultriness that permeates every centimetre of the chicken, deep-fried and dished out with pickled cabbage (RM25). The oven hails from Stoked, Toji's sister restaurant next door; Toji's patrons can also order from Stoked, for honey caramelised black cod, roasted free-range chicken and Stanbroke wagyu steaks to pair with your sake.

Sake-fuelled nights blur our memories, but we recall enjoying the ebi katsu sando (RM35; with a chunky, well-textured prawn patty, buoyed by pickled cabbage and mustard mayo) and the gyudon (RM38; with tender, soy-simmered beef, onions and a 64-degree egg on a bed of two kinds of grains, Japanese rice and Sarawak's all-natural, hand-harvested Adan highland rice).

Speaking of rice, there's more to Toji's sake than its flights, of course. Our budget-friendly pick is the Tatenokawa 'Seiryu' Junmai Daiginjyo Sake (RM100 for 320ml), smooth and vivacious, served with Toji's unbeatably beautiful pewter sake cups.

Toji Sake Bar

122, Jalan Kasah, Medan Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur. Open Monday-Saturday, 5pm-12am. Tel: 03-2011-3598

Toji is one of more than 250 venues on Eat Drink KL's online store for vouchers and subscriptions.

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