Drink of the week:
"Sayuri" Nigori Sake at Shine Morida, 901 W. Armitage Ave, on a Friday night.
The damage: $15 for a 10-ounce bottle that serves about six glasses to sip or slam. If you opt for a beer chaser like I did, add $8 for a 23-ounce Sapporo.
Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? I never thought I'd become a person who says things like, "I'm dying for a latte" or "I'm totally craving sushi." Whatever happened to the girl who brewed Folgers and thought California rolls were some sort of pastry? Alas, on Friday night I wanted maki like mad, so I headed to my neighborhood sushi place, where I knew I could find fresh unagi and a knockout sake selection.
Situated on a corner across from a handmade soap shop and a used clothing store that features not racks of your dad's argyle sweaters but couture Chanel, Shine somehow staves off pretension long enough for you to get your fill.
How it went down: In college, my friends and I would rest cups of sake on chopsticks topping our beer. We would pound the table while counting to three in Japanese, "Ichi, Ni, San," and would start chugging the second the warm rice wine splashed into the glass.
As I've grown older, I've realized that the English language does not require that the word "bomb" follow "sake." Now I know that sake tastes better chilled, sipped and followed by, not mixed with, a refreshing gulp of Japanese beer. I chose the "Sayuri" Nigori Sake because unlike most sakes, which are totally filtered, it has a coarse-filtered quality that creates a milky smooth consistency akin to a wheat beer.
Served in tiny, white, porcelain cups that begged for us to raise our pinky fingers like the English at tea, the sake looked like cream at the bottom of my coffee mug. The flavor showcased a sweet tang followed by a stiff aftertaste to remind you that the delicate pink bottle sprinkled with pastel flowers packs in 12.5 percent alcohol.
Would I want to become a regular? With maki costing from $3 to $13, Shine matches the price point of my favorite two-table BYOB joints, and has ambience to boot. The walls are decked in what I would label as ultra classy wood paneling, vivid paper umbrellas are suspended from the ceiling and lights that look like sea anemones hang above the sushi bar.
For the sushi wary, Shine Morida offers an extensive variety of Chinese dishes, too, but don't expect take-out prices. And, for Pete's sake, don't forget the sake.
Dana Kavan scours the city for drink deals so good you'll offer to buy a round and creative libations that outshine your average on-the-rocks concoctions. Want to give Dana tips on where to rack up a bar tab? Share your finds before her next night out.