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Honda Sake Bar / Mino Sake Shop: For Sake Aficionados and Newbies Alike

"If you love sake or want to learn about it, it's time to head to Honda Sake Bar / Mino Sake shop in St Leonards - the restaurant/bar and adjoining bottle shop are run by Honda-san and Yuko-san, who also manage the importing of the sake products they stock."

If you love sake or want to learn about it, it’s time to leave the comfort of inner Sydney and head for Honda Sake Bar / Mino Sake shop in St Leonards.

The restaurant/bar and adjoining bottle shop are run by Honda-san and Yuko-san, who also import the sake products they stock.

As Mino is an importer there is an extraordinary variety and exclusive brands. I counted 147 sakes on Honda menu and then visiting Mino a few days later found many more that weren’t on the menu.

Also, as a sake importer Honda’s prices are very reasonable. Due to import and tax costs, the Japanese price of sake triples by the time it reaches the Australian market. And then many city restaurants double the retail price when they serve it, making sake regrettable if you order something you don’t like.

However, at Honda you can order a 100ml serve for about $10 … not much more than Mino bottle shop prices. It’s served to share in tokkuri – small jugs – with ochoko – small cups. Be sure to order 2 or 3 styles of sake first up to determine want you love and you can select several ochoko for tate comparison.

Dining & Sake Suggestions

You can book a table inside or sit at the bar – a welcome Japanese provision for solo diners. We took a table in the covered area outside rugged up for the early Autumn chill.

If you don’t know sake you could try my recommendations or ask Yuko-san. These styles of sake demonstrate the variety:

  • Dainagawa Tiger is a diaginjo meaning the rice was polished to less than 50% of its original size delivering sweetness and fruity aromas.
  • Senkin Omachi Modern is brewed by a sake company that increases the acidity which could be a gateway for wine drinkers.
  • Tsuchida Craft 12 12 is from a sake company that refines old techniques – like Kimoto and Yamahai – to deliver rich deep flavours.

If you loved one of those styles, ask for a similar recommendation for your next order or ask for recommendations in other styles such as:

  • Nigori where rice pressings in the sake give a cloudy flavour and more body, or
  • Nama which is unpasteurised with a fresher taste and sometimes natural sparkle or
  • Kijoshu where sake is added instead of water during brewing for a much sweeter flavour.

While Yuko-san serves the customers, Honda-san is fixed in the kitchen cooking familiar Japanese dishes – all authentically prepared and delicious. Similarly, the food pricing is very fair – though Honda does request a minimum food and sake order of $55 per person as the restaurant is small and often busy.

Ensure that before, during, or after your meal you check out the incredible range in Mino bottle shop – and you can buy a bottle of the sake you discovered. Mino Bottle Shop, though not Honda Sake Bar, is open Sunday afternoon. If you’re a genuine buyer Honda-san may give you sample before you purchase to jog your memory.

You’ve finished dinner, bought some sake, but still need a nightcap and supper?  Head to Tachinomi YP – a nearby Japanese bar teleported directly from Tokyo.

And if sake is your new passion watch out for the Australian Sake Festival usually on October 1st – World Sake Day – in Sydney.



Main image: A few of the hundreds of sakes in Honda/Mino’s fridges. Photo by Mark Ferguson

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Sushi and sake. Photo by Mark Ferguson
This writers’ sake recommendations for newbies. Photo by Mark Ferguson
Oysters in Ponzu. Photo by Mark Ferguson
Tempura. Photo by Mark Ferguson
Agedashi Tofu. Photo by Mark Ferguson
Tachinomi YP Japanese Bar. Photo by Mark Ferguson

Operating Hours



Honda Sake Bar / Mino sake shop, 7-9 Albany Street, St Leonards NSW 2065, Australia