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The Sankei News site includes a report from travel journalist Shifumi Etō on a recent trip to Seoul and her discovery of Korean-made sake.

After reflecting on changes in the Seoul food scene, including the rise of fancy “fine dining”, and musing on liking Korean beer although some people find it too light, she ventures into the one Michelin star restaurant “Mingles”.

And what does she find there but nihonshu – and although it looks like it could be an import straight from Japan, it’s actually made in Korea. A junmai from Gyeongju on the south-east coast, an area known for brewing the traditional Korean fermented rice drink makgeolli.

She was a little surprised that the restaurant had served it to her knowing she loved sake, but it was actually pretty good. Smooth and without any peculiarities of character, its rice-derived sweetness unfolded gently to give a very drinkable result.

Etō reports that Korea is currently not growing sake-specific rice so this sake was made from specially selected high-grade table rice, and that investigations into sake-specific rice are underway.

The Korean junmai was paired with thin slices of abalone simmered in a delicate dashi broth with hakusai white cabbage, with the dashi pairing perfectly with the sake. Another surprising item on the menu was Korean farmed caviar, which is preferred there because farming is more sustainable than taking caviar from wild fish.