Wine experts are known as sommeliers, beer experts are known as cicerones, but what is a sake expert called? While there doesn’t seem to be a specific term for it, a sake expert is someone who knows and appreciates the intricacies of this traditional Japanese drink. At Moto-i in Minneapolis, our sake brewers are well versed in the processes and terminology involved in making this alcoholic drink, and we’d love to share our knowledge with you (along with a cup of sake!)

Basic Terms to Get You Started

While you may have had sake before, you may not have known some of the terms the servers or brewers were using. When you visit our bar, we’ll gladly explain the differences between yeasts, types of sake, and more. However, we want to give you a head start with some basic terms below:

  • Moto – The yeast starter used to begin the fermentation process (also where our restaurant/brewery gets its name).
  • Sake – The Western term for Japanese alcohol. The Japanese character for sake refers to alcohol of any type, not just alcohol fermented from rice.
  • Koji – The bacteria used to convert the starch in the rice into sugar
  • Namazake – Unpasteurized sake. This is the type of sake we brew at Moto-i.
  • Moromi – The main fermenting mash that consists of the yeast starter (moto), koji, steamed rice, and water.
  • Ochoko – The small ceramic cup in which sake is served.
  • Tokkuri – The small ceramic carafe in which hot sake is served.
  • Reishu – Cold or chilled sake. If you prefer chilled sake, or you want to try it cold for the first time, ask for “reishu.” (You can also ask for “chilled sake” in English when you’re with us.)
  • Shiboritate – Freshly pressed sake. This is how we serve all of our sake.
  • Sakagura – The term for a sake brewery. Moto-i is the only “sakagura” in downtown Minneapolis!
  • Kurabito – A person who works in a sake brewery.
  • Nihonshu – The Japanese term for sake. It literally means “Japanese alcohol.”
  • Nihonshu no Hi – Sake Day, which takes place every year on October 1st. If you want to celebrate, you can enjoy exceptional sake in our restaurant!

If you’re interested in learning more about sake, there are countless resources online or at your library that will help you learn more. If you want to learn from those who actually make sake, you can visit and tour our on-site brewery. Our staff will gladly explain our brewing process, what the steps are, and how the finished product is made. You can also belly up to the bar and order our full lineup of sake, and enjoy cup after cup of this traditional Japanese drink. It’s important to remember that most sake as an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 15 to 20 percent. We want you to enjoy yourself, but we also want you to get home safe!

When you’re ready to try different types and discover the vast world of sake, come to Moto-i in Minneapolis to taste and learn from the very best. We look forward to seeing you soon!


moto-i Ramen & Sake House

2940 Lyndale Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55408

P: 612-821-6262

Accepted Payment Methods

  • American Express
  • Cash
  • Discover
  • MasterCard
  • Visa

Business Hours

  1. Mo, Tu, We, Th, Fr
    1. 12:00pm – 2:00am
  2. Su, Sa
    1. 11:00am – 2:00am