Shin-Osaka: Kushiage
Open 11am-4, 5-10pm (LO) daily.
Sun: Open Sundays

Suginotama is a serious sake bar with an impressive selection of limited-edition seasonal bottles, produced by craft breweries around the country. The sake is served in smaller, 90ml tasting-size glasses so you can try a few different types at one sitting. There's also a decent food menu, featuring delicate deep-fried kushiage skewers (referred to here as "kushi-tempura").

The drinks list includes nine recommended sake of the day, plus seventeen local sakes from the Kansai region, most of them priced in the Y400-500 range for a 90ml glass. There is also a page of warm-sake recommendations, plus two different four-part tasting flights (Y980 and Y1280). The tasting flights seem to be popular options, and the regular sake list changes frequently as bottles are finished and new ones are opened. In fact we received a newly printed sake list midway through of our meal.

The kushiage items on the menu are skillfully prepared, with fresh, flavorful seafood and vegetables wrapped in a crunchy deep-fried coating that stands up to its dipping sauce. Seafood and meat skewers (prawn, anago eel, salmon, pork) are priced at Y180, while most vegetables (eggplant, lotus root, various mushrooms) are Y120 per skewer. The menu also includes grilled meats, raw fish and other typical izakaya fare.

The charcoal-grilled chicken is also quite good, served with a hefty helping of yuzu kosho. Other crowd pleasers include stewed yellowtail and daikon, and charcoal-grilled duck with leeks. Several teishoku options (main dish plus rice and soup) are available if you want a more filling meal. Budget around Y2000-3500 for a dinner-sized amount of food and drink in the evening.

The compact dining room has a very lively atmosphere at night. Service is friendly and efficient - even our grilled and fried items arrived very quickly despite the fact that the place was quite full - and this seems to be one side benefit of being in a busy transportation hub. There's no English menu, but there's a picture menu, and the tasting flights make sake ordering easier.

The bar is located in the Arde restaurant complex attached to Shin-Osaka station, an excellent spot for a drink and snack before catching the Shinkansen. It's easy to spot thanks to the big glass refrigerators fillled with sake bottles that face the passageway; there's also a sugidama (cedar ball) indicating that this is a place devoted to good sake.

Osaka-shi Yodogawa-ku, Nishi-Nakajima 5-16-1, Arde Shin-Osaka (2F).
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Venue listing from Bento.com4 Star Rating: recommended