The second annual outing for the Venice Japanese Community Center’s Young Adults Club returns to Aki in West L.A.

By Michael Aushenker

It couldn’t be a more perfect venue to signify one generation imparting institutional knowledge to the next. Three generations in, Aki restaurant, established in 1974, remains the longest-running Japanese-owned business on the Westside.

Last April, the Venice Japanese Community Center’s Young Adults Club threw its inaugural Sake Social at Aki. Attendees ate and drank well, but that wasn’t really the point.

Out to encourage young Japanese Americans to get in touch with their culture, the club hopes to grow its membership to preserve the legacy of the graying Venice Japanese Community Center in Del Rey, which dates back to the early 1900s, when the Westside was home to a more highly concentrated Japanese-American community.

“We’re trying to bridge gaps between the generations,” said Young Adults Club President Steven Sako of Saturday’s second annual Sake Social, also at Aki.

“It’s important to preserve the culture,” event chair Valerie Harada added.

Last year’s Sake Social attracted participants who ranged in age from their mid-20s to late 60s, Sato said.

Scott Hada, part of Aki’s third-generation ownership, led 18 attendees in a tasting of a dozen types of sake. Gyoza, chicken wings and sumi salad accompanied the rice wine to cleanse the palate between tastes.

“It was a very basic intro class, but I did learn about the ratings that every sake gets: the range is from -5 to +10. The lower the number, the sweeter the sake. I [found] most of the drier sake to be delicious,” said Young Adults Club co-founder Jennifer Yamamoto.

Hada is also leading the tasting at this year’s social.

“I’m hoping to see the same gang that joined us last time and some new faces,” Yamamoto said.

The second annual Sake Social is at 8 p.m. Saturday at Aki, 11513 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles. Cost is $30 for appetizers and sake, or $25 without sake. Email to RSVP.