Charlotte Restaurateur Gains Certification as Advanced Sake Professional

Mr. Birdie Yang, owner of Yama Asian Fusion restaurant in Morrison at SouthPark here, has been certified as an Advanced Sake Professional (ASP) by the Sake Education Council after recently completing its Level II Sake Professional course in Japan. Yang is now one of fewer than 100 ASPs in the world.

The ASP certification examination is a combination of multiple-choice, short answer, and short essay questions, as well as a tasting exam. This Level II examination ascertains a superior understanding of and familiarity with the rice-based alcoholic beverage, including production methods and their variations. ASPs are well-versed on the sake industry in Japan and elsewhere, with a deep grasp of aspects affecting sake, such as regionality, maturity, and the basic flavor and aromatic profiles of different types and production methods. The ASP course is held in Japan to accommodate guest speakers from within the industry and to ensure that those qualifying for the ASP level have experienced sake, sake production, and sake culture within Japan.

ASP-certified individuals are qualified to present sake-related seminars and educational programs to the public and the beverage industry. Yang plans to expand upon Yama’s current periodic casual sake tastings with more extensive tasting and educational events, as well as sake dinners. Customers can keep abreast of Yama’s upcoming events via Facebook ( and Twitter (@YamaAsianFusion).

“This is a very exciting benchmark for me, our restaurant and customers, and for the Charlotte region,” exulted Yang. “This particular Level II class had 19 participants from some of the world’s finest restaurants in Las Vegas, New York, Boston, San Francisco, England, Japan, Germany, China, and France. My Level I certification was unique in this market and quite an honor itself, but this Level II designation puts us in an elite class of restaurants worldwide, and I look forward to using this knowledge to arouse and expand our customers’ sake appreciation and enjoyment.”

Yama Asian Fusion offers the region’s largest and most diversified selection of sake with approximately 60 different labels. The restaurant opened at 720 Governor Morrison Street in November 2007 and features traditional Japanese cuisine with a modern Asian fusion flair at lunch and dinner. The menu includes sushi and sashimi; hibachi fare; an extensive appetizer selection; and entrees such as Pan-Seared Alaskan Black Cod with black bean sauce and Grilled Sashimi Grade Scottish Salmon with homemade teriyaki sauce.