Saké Restaurant & Bar has locations across the East Coast, from Hamer Hall in Melbourne, to The Rocks and Double Bay in Sydney and Eagle Street Pier in Brisbane. With big plans on the horizon for Sake’s expansion, their focus remains on offering an authentic contemporary Japanese experience. Australia is familiar with classic traditional Japan and the sushi train, but Saké steps up as a modern testament to the Land of the Rising Sun. Saké retains all the traditions of Japanese techniques with an emphasis on seasonal local produce, high quality ingredients and presentation – especially with classic dishes of sushi, tempura and sashimi. It is in the presentation where present-day Japan comes to the forefront, particularly in the ways that foods are combined, served and eaten.
Embarking on a maiden Sake voyage starts best by leaving the decisions to the Saké experts – that is, the chef and the saké sommelier – for an omakase experience. Omakase translates from Japanese as “I’ll leave it up to you” or “entrust”. Ordering omakase style allows the chef to showcase their innovation and artistic performance so dining becomes an unknown adventure. Pairing Saké’s modified Omasaké menu to a saké flight enhances the culinary journey further, heading straight to the neon-charged streets of Osaka’s Dotonbori district.
Given Saké’s Omasaké is a challenge for the chef to show their stuff, it goes without saying that when each dish presented, culinary artistry is at its finest. From the colours and arrangements of ingredients to the reception on the dishes, it’s an exquisite showcase. Freshly shucked oysters with house salsa and served chilled from the sushi bar is always a grand start, but paired to a Junmai Ginjo saké, the sensation goes beyond classically matching oysters to champagne – more for courting romance – to the simple pleasures of pleasing the palate. Oysters and saké are an ideal option for during the day where fresh, light flavours work at their finest.
Served from a steam basket draped across an aspidistras leaf and a flourish of bamboo mat, the sashimi combo is the ultimate serving of raw fish where vibrant colours pop against soft hues. With a sweet flavor and clean finish, the scallops are a rather decadent treat for lunch – thankfully, there is (only) one for each. The rich sweetness of Saikou salmon, hiramasa kingfish, snapper tai and tiger prawn ebi aren’t any less hedonist, so a reminder of their immense health benefits works fine.
The scampi tempura served with citrus caramel and ponzu gel is a nice development in the journey, the light frizzle veering away from clean freshness to an unctuous zing. Paired to the Amabuki Pink Lady Junmai saké, it’s skip amongst a garden of sweet and sour delights. The gel can be quickly soaked up by fricassee of the fleshy scampi, the citrus of the ponzu overwhelmingly refreshing.
The tastes of the ocean is left behind for the paddock, with wagyu strip loin served medium rare with ponzu, buckwheat and soy bean adding more oomph to the dining experience. The citrus of the ponzu boosts the wagyu’s umami flavours with the buckwheat and soy bean dense textural additions. Matched to Kozaemon Junmai – brewed especially for Saké by the Nakishima Brewery – the soft earthy notes of this signature saké augments the dish. While the previous dishes have been light, they haven’t been any less filling. Matched to overlooking the riverside views of Eagle Street Pier while enclosed in the warm wooden notes of the interior décor simply heightens all the senses. Offered as seven-courses for lunch or dinner, the Saké Omasaké is certainly a unique experience – and it’s one to want to try again, and again.