Chef Joe Kajib takes a traditional approach to sushi at Sake Haus on Roosevelt Row

Phoenix (3TV / CBS 5) – Over the past two years, a lot of new sushi concepts around Phoenix and the Valley have completely opened up. Seafood and sushi lovers now have many options when it comes to covering their favorite rolls, whether raw or cooked. In early April, one of these new establishments opened on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix. The Sake Haus, attached to the Pedal Haus, is located in Roosevelt west of Third Street. This fun, fresh, sushi-focused establishment emphasizes nigiri and sashimi, and has an extensive and in-depth menu of sake and Japanese whiskey.

Sake House on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix.(Jeff Popovich)

There are several different types of sushi. There are common maki rolls, which consist of fish surrounded by rice and wrapped in seaweed; hand-pressed rice nigiri with a layer of fish or on top of it; Or sashimi, which is thin slices of fish served without rice or seaweed. In addition to sushi, Sake Haus offers a variety of sake, Japanese whiskey, and cocktails with Japanese ingredients. The shelves along the bar are stocked and stacked in four different types, with several options for each.

Sake Haus serves futsucho, the most popular sake in Japan and considered an everyday table wine. There’s also Junmai daiginjo, a high-quality sake drink usually reserved for special occasions. Junmai gingo, which is often lighter and more fruity. and nigori sake, which usually appears cloudy and still contains some rice solids that haven’t fermented. The experienced and knowledgeable staff can help guide and educate guests on the many variations and flavors to suit any occasion.

Sake, Japanese whiskey, and more at Sake Haus in Phoenix.
Sake, Japanese whiskey, and more at Sake Haus in Phoenix.(Jeff Popovich)

Sake Haus is ready to educate patrons with more than just a service. Chef ‘Sushi Joe’ Cajipe has designed a menu that stands out and focuses on nigiri and sashimi, which aren’t as often chosen as maki rolls among sushi-goers. Kajibe says his goal is to raise awareness of the traditional aspect of sushi, such as nigiri and sashimi, which is sometimes overlooked in Western countries.

“When people think of sushi, it’s mostly sushi bombs and rolls. Well, I want to bring something different to the table. I want to highlight the traditional side while also applying modern techniques and flavors, too,” Kajipe explained. Sake Haus, however, says there’s nothing wrong with keeping things simple with offerings like California rolls, eel sauce, and spicy mayonnaise.But at Sake Haus, Cajipe says the focus will always be on the quality of the fish.

“We want to make the fish stand out. We try to get really high quality produce every single day. All you need is just a little to add flavor and accentuate the fish. We always feel that a little is more, and in terms of sushi, that is really true,” Kajibe said.

Sashimi at Sake House in Phoenix.
Sashimi at Sake House in Phoenix.(Jeff Popovich)

Speaking of sake bombs, Cajipe hopes to inform guests of the true nature of sake and how it is intended to enjoy a traditional meal.

“Generally speaking, the common people see sake as a potion or something that accompanies Japanese beer to take the sake bombs with, but what is really wine. It’s rice wine, so traditionally, you drink it cold in a wine glass and just eat it and pair it with your sushi, and most of them go for it. Side by side depending on the flavor profiles you prefer looking for, Kajip explained.

Kajib, who is Filipino, has worked in Asian cuisine for the past 10 years at various restaurants across the valley. Kagebe has learned from various chefs and recently worked at Somomaia in Scottsdale. But it all comes from humble beginnings in 2012 as a server at a restaurant in Chandler. Kajibe says the chef noticed his passion for learning about sushi and took it under his wing. Cajipe’s journey from server to chef began, motivated by his love of food and cooking – and the fact that sushi is his favorite food too.

‘What it’s really about is just a passion and dedication to perfecting the craft. A lot of people call it an art, and I can see why they do it. There’s a lot of intricacy and attention to detail that comes with it, plus it’s the most fun kitchen I’ve ever had,’ Kagbe said. .

Sushi and sake at Sake Haus in Phoenix.
Sushi and sake at Sake Haus in Phoenix.(Jeff Popovich)

Whether your trip to Sake Haus is for sushi or sushi (or both), you’re bound to have a fun experience. The natural flavors of fresh fish and the way they are curated by Cajipe and his staff will ensure a great meal for sushi-goers, and the expansive menu of sake and Japanese whiskey is more than enough to keep adult drink seekers busy. The interior and artwork of the Sake Haus set a very cool ambiance throughout, with red lighting to set the tone for Toyko Street. Cajipe takes great pride in his work and says that seeing guests enjoy sushi makes him feel accomplished and fulfilled as a chef. So the next time you’re craving sushi, consider trying something more traditional and stop by Sake Haus!

This is the twelfth part in the hack series about chefs in Metro Phoenix. Family Food Arizona sits with chefs around the valley telling their stories of triumphs, perseverance, and dedication to their craft. There is a great deal of work, research, and experimentation that culminates in what is placed in front of you on a plate or in a drink. These are the stories of the creative minds behind those delicious meals or cocktails, and how their passion for food and drink brings us joy and brings us closer to each other.

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