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Restaurant review: Sake Beya Masu, Wan Chai – generous pours of sake complement delicious fish

It would be a shame to visit Sake Beya Masu if you didn’t like sake, although for those who don’t, an omakase menu without the beverage pairing is offered. But it’s clear from before you even step into the tiny restaurant/bar that you should be ready to drink: outside the entrance is a sugidama (cedar ball), the traditional Japanese emblem indicating that a place either brews sake, or specialises in it.

Sake Beya Masu has only about 13 seats, including the tall stools at the bar, and offers two food and sake pairing menus for HK$1,000 plus 10 per cent (for eight courses) and HK$1,500 (for 10). The friendly owner recognised my guest from a previous visit, so came out to chat, serving us each dish and explaining the sake.

Of the eight courses, we loved the kochi (bar-tailed flathead) sashimi with negi (Welsh onion) and grated red radish, with textural interest given by chewy slices of the fish skin, paired with a fresh and light Niigata Amamizu Jyunmai Ginjyo; and the megochi (big-eyed flathead) tempura with crisp fried fish bones. Steamed pike conger eel had a nori (seaweed) sauce that made it look unappetising, but it was delicious.

The meal ended with our two favourite dishes: an intense but light grilled rosy sea bass with matsutake mushroom and kombu (kelp), followed by a sautéed surf clam rice, which had the unexpected (but delicious) flavour of butter, which went beautifully with my favourite sake of the night, the sophisticated Ishikawa Kagaginjyo Jyunmai Daiginjyo.

Be warned: pours are generous and lightweights might have a hard time finishing both the meal and drinks.

Sake Beya Masu 2 Sun Street, Wan Chai, tel: 2525 2355. HK$1,000 to HK$1,500 without the service charge

Two other places where we’ve sampled sake with food recently

First impressions of KOKO, Central izakaya with some special sake and a big menu

Restaurant review: Godenya in Central – great food, sake even better