Gekkeikan Sake (Hot)

Drunken Fish, #1 Maryland Plaza Drive
314-367-4222.

After we first read about them in Charlie Brown's ‘Cyclopedia, Volume One: Featuring Your Body, we surmised wisdom teeth only popped up once you were ready — like those plastic thermometers that come in turkeys — and wondered why anyone would elect to be rid of these harbingers of omnipotent knowledge. Then we got them.

Our newly erupted teeth looked like the rounded tips of icebergs sticking out of a gummy seascape. They also hurt like hell and so we had them extracted. We were looking forward to the drugs until we found Percocet made us pukey and penicillin retained its moldy taste even in pill form, but we were optimistic that the absence of appetite combined with pain would result in the most brilliant weight-loss strategy since Tami wired her jaw shut in The Real World Season Two: Los Angeles. Unfortunately, stellar cheekbones remain dormant beneath our inflated face, and our washboard abs have held onto their protective coating of fat.

Because we got our wisdom teeth removed about a decade later than most people do, we set out to drink like an eighteen-year-old girl at the Drunken Fish in the Central West End, whose cocktail menu (think "Flirtini" and "Angel on Acid") seems expressly designed for this purpose. We're with our significant other's co-workers, and within minutes, the college kids start chanting for sake bombs. Shot glasses are carefully balanced on chopsticks, and then elbows bang against the table. Alcohol splashes and dribbles into our lap as we realize our mouth is too sore to slam the whole drink. We decide right then we'll be the night's designated driver.

Meanwhile, the co-eds break open edamame pods with their delicate fingers and order a Mr. Miyagi fishbowl. We envy the girls' waistlines and subconsciously suck in our still-puffed-out cheeks between sips of Gekkeikan, the Drunken Fish's house sake. We order it hot, and though it has a dry and somewhat cleansing effect on the palate, it's hard to discern further qualities because it's, well, hot. Hot.

Though we're no sake scholar and the porcelain carafe we're drinking from costs a paltry $6, we know something's wrong: We've had sake at Denver's Sushi Den, Vegas' Nobu and other high-end restaurants in between, and we've never had to enlist a napkin just to hold its container. (Sure enough, we later check out the Gekkeikan Web site and find that "[sake] should never be served as a hot beverage like tea or coffee," and they recommend a top temperature of 122 degrees Fahrenheit.) We'd like to inquire about it, but we've already received a flippant response from our waitress when we asked about its alcohol content. "It's more than wine, but less than vodka," she'd said, helpfully narrowing our answer down to a range of 30 percent.

As the night continues, one co-ed admits she doesn't particularly like fish or sake, and we get the feeling that she'd picked this particular restaurant because it's trendy. She opted for style over substance — and judging by our experience that night, the Drunken Fish did, too. Suddenly, we feel superior in our knowledge, being both experienced and well-traveled enough to know when our drinks are served improperly. Catching our reflection on our way out the door, we smile and think our inflated ego actually complements our swollen face rather nicely.

 
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