Echo Park’s New Sake Bar, Ototo

A minimal but warm space that aims to make the Japanese tipple more approachable

Ototo is a venture for chef Charles Namba and sommelier Courtney Kaplan (of Tsubaki next door) to share their joint passion for sake and food. While Namba helms the kitchen, Kaplan is sharing her extensive knowledge of sake—telling vivid stories of breweries throughout Japan—and recommending sakes to bar-goers, who range from rookies to experts. The food and sake at Ototo (and the pairings that occur) may …

NYC-Made West 32 Soju

A smooth take on the Korean alcohol

by Sun Pak Step into any Korean restaurant on a weekend night and you’ll find similar set-ups at every table: a green bottle of soju perched next to plates of sizzling meats (or bubbling stews) and a collection of small vegetable sides. The clear, simple liquor—akin to a less-alcoholic vodka—washes down the spicy dishes well, and it would be considered egregious to consume less than …

SOTO: An Elegant New Sake

A premium Japanese rice wine blending modernity with tradition

Sake brewing dates beyond recorded history—with its earliest textual mention in the third century. Sudo Honke, Japan’s oldest sake brewery, has been operating since it opened in the year 1141. It’s one of the oldest businesses in the world that’s still active today. There’s an illustrious history to this nuanced alcoholic beverage—a rice wine made in a way more akin to beer. And Billy Melnyk …