Meishu Centre Yokohama (名酒センター横浜)
Choice Sake Centre
Location: Yokohama 横浜
It might be hard to believe for long-term residents of Japan, but for the uninitiated, drinking sake in a specialist bars without a proficiency in Japanese can be a fairly daunting task. Even today with the plethora of information on sake available at the touch of a button, the fundamental issue remains that the vast majority of these establishments do not have English speaking staff. This leaves visitors to Japan, who are naturally eager to try as much sake as they can during their trip, with the added stress of not being able to communicate with the staff serving them. Of course the staff for their part are also probably just as frustrated that they can't impart their knowledge and wisdom about these fabulous and complex beverages to their foreign customers.
However fear not, there is a sake lover's paradise that exists in Yokohama, and if you speak English at least, then you need not worry about the language barrier. Yes, the Yokohama Meishu Centre, which opened back in 2017, is managed and staffed by the fantastically knowledgeable Brian Hutton who first came up with the idea due to his own difficulties that he experienced when he first took an interest in sake. Therefore, his bar aimes to provide a bridge to the world of sake for English speakers and is fully stocked with some of the best examples of premium sake you could hope to find.
Having Brian on-hand to impart his extensive knowledge of the different styles and flavour profiles alleviates much of the confusion that is often such a problem for those new to sake. Furthermore, the pricing system in place is terrific value, and is limited to only two price categories: 300 and 400 yen. No frustrating seating charges or obligatory small dishes mean that for just under 1000 yen (7 GBP) you can sample a top quality selection of different sake, whilst at the same time enjoying the laidback vibe that Brian has imparted. As sake continues to grow in popularity overseas, the amount of visitors to Japan that want to try sake will surely increase. Therefore, these types of bars could be crucial for the future of the industry. Let's hope we see more of them in the near future, and if you find yourself near Yokohama station, be sure to pay Brian a visit.