There are so many special things to drink at Royal Izakaya, my sipping agenda can waver depending upon circumstances.

If my bon vivant pal is paying, we'll splurge big on a pricey tumbler of Yamazaki, Nikka, or Hakushu malt whisky (then segue into the list of shojus, by which time we should be gnawing on skate wing jerky).

If I'm eating salty bar snacks and want a refreshing quaff of Japanese beer, I'd drink any Hitichino Nest, various rice ales, or Stillwater's sake-style saison.

For raw fish, though, nothing works better than sake, which is available here in every style, from cloudy sweet nigoris to fun ginjos served in their own cups (Kitaro!)

My favorite, though, was a luxurious junmai daiginjo called Dassai 50 "Otter Fest," which was full-bodied and round, even with flavors of licorice and mint, that was the perfect chaser to a thick, pink slice of fat-marbled o-toro tuna. - Craig LaBan

Dassai 50 "Otter Fest," $22 a 5-ounce glass, $92 a 720 ml bottle, Royal Izakaya, 780 S. Second St. Available retail in New Jersey, $25.99 a bottle, Traino's Wine & Spirits, 100 Church Rd., Marlton; trainoswine.com