Cheers to a Stylish Party

By Cathy Lee Posted in: Celebrate StyleImprove

Entertain in a fashionable way this season with these simple, yet useful tips on dish presentation, homegrown decor and party ideas

My goodness, things have been warm recently! This summer weather is perfect for outdoor dinner parties, and since I love sushi as much as I love sake, it’s a no-brainer that this girl’s next party will have a sushi and sake theme.

Since I know many of you are also sushi and sake fans, here are some tips for your table settings. There are lots of directions you can go with this, but I like to keep things simple, contemporary and organic.

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First, the dishware. Whether you’re ordering out for sushi or planning to lay out ingredients so guests can make their own hand rolls, look for white dishes, platters and soy sauce plates with clean, modern lines. The white will not only pull together your table and give it a fresh, summery feel, it will also reflect light onto your sushi for a beautiful effect (this is a great tip I learned from photographers).

If you can find them, white soy sauce containers will add to the effect. You might find some at Japanese stores, but don’t overlook small white creamers that are normally used for coffee.

And if you are ordering your sushi, you definitely want to arrange it on serving platters and not leave it on a plastic tray.

In place of a table runner, an outdoor dinner party looks great with fresh leaves running down the center of the table. Go into your yard and look for bold, tropical shapes and colors that will stand up to the strong visual impact of your white, clean-lined dishes.

Ti leaves laid under your sushi add a beautiful organic touch. If you don’t have white serving dishes, clean some large ti leaves and use them instead. I had some sushi served to me this way in New York, and I still remember how that simple touch brought a fresh summer breeze into that tiny Midtown sushi bar!

Now let’s talk about sake. There are countless different kinds, and a whole range of temperatures you can serve them at. Sake is easy to drink since it’s less acidic than wine, which my husband Darrell and I love as well, and it can have amazing flavors and aromas ranging from peaches and bananas to green apple and pepper.

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Junmai sakes are excellent with sushi. They’re less expensive and have big, ricey flavors that pair well with the vinegar in sushi rice. For before- or after-dinner sipping, there’s nothing better than a light, elegant daiginjo sake.

My favorite way to sip sake is chilled. I found this carafe at The Sake Shop on King Street for about $25. You put crushed ice in the cobalt well, pour in some chilled sake, pour into a glass and enjoy the delicious sips. Don’t forget a key part of sake etiquette: Never pour your own! This means everyone’s constantly pouring sake for each other, making the party even more fun and convivial.

I hope I’ve inspired you to put together your own sushi and sake party. For even more ideas, you can go to the Joy of Sake on Aug. 16 at the Hawaii Convention Center (www.joyofsake.com). I hear they’ll have nearly 400 sakes to try this year, so you’re sure to find some new favorites. That’s where you’ll find me — getting ideas for my next party!

Cathy Lee is president and designer of Cathy Lee Style and Cathy’s Marketplace, a furniture and accessories showroom with design services at 1110 University Ave. She recently opened reStyle Hawaii, an affordable, style-conscious consignment warehouse with upholstering and repurposing services at 420 Keawe St. in Kakaako. Lee’s interior design work has been featured in local and national publications, on HGTV and in her DIY design workshops that teach homeowners the basics of style. To find out more, go to www.cathyleestyle.com.