100 St Kilda Road
Melbourne VIC 3004
+61 3 8687 0775
Disclaimer: Matt and Libby dined as guests of Sake and Thrive PR.
As a frequent visitor to Sydney, I had always wanted to check out Shaun Presland’s award-winning Saké restaurant at The Rocks. I’m a fan of Japanese food and I wanted to experience his take on ‘modern and classic Japanese dishes with distinct local flavours.’
Unfortunately, I never got the chance to visit Saké on my last couple of trips to my favourite Australian city north of Melbourne. Thankfully though, there’s now a Saké restaurant in Melbourne, right on the arts precinct by the Yarra. When Andy from Thrive PR sent me an invite to check the place out, I gladly accepted the invite and dragged my friend Matt along for a post-work dinner.
Because it was my final week at the office, I decided to start things off with a cocktail. The Yaeyama Fling was the perfect combination of flirty and fun with a bit of spicy thanks to the chilli.
Saké also has a neat selection of Japanese whiskies and I was fortunate to sample a few that night, ranging from the fruity Amabuki Pink Lady to the more aromatic Junmai varietals. After all, they did insist…
We were given an assortment of dishes to try, starting with the kingfish Jalapeño. The fresh slices of hiramasa were drizzled with a tangy yuzu soy sauce before being garnished with jalapeño slices and coriander. We both thought it was a very Nobu-like dish – not that that was a bad thing, of course.
(WP 3 SOME FISH TOWER THING)
We then had the tuna ceviche (hello again, Nobu!). The lemon dressing, coriander and jalapeño worked well together, though I did find that having the tomato and crunchy fried onions a bit of an overkill.
We both thought the wagyu new style was a successful dish. Here, the thin slices of wagyu were lightly seared with hot oil and finished off with ginger, chives and yuzu soy. There was a lot of flavour but unlike the tuna ceviche, this dish was well-balanced.
We then got into the fried stuff. Here, bite-sized fried pork belly and spring onion bites were served in these lettuce cups before being drizzled with mustard miso and ‘Japanese BBQ sauce’ (Bulldog sauce or similar, perhaps?). Presentation-wise, I thought they looked a bit awkward. Taste-wise, they were ridiculously delicious.
More lettuce cups, this time with grilled miso-marinated Patagonian toothfish in them. The marinade reminded me of Nobu’s black miso cod, but a lot more fun to eat.
Our first main was the grain-fed wagyu. Cooked medium-rare, it was served on sautéed shiitake and buckwheat and tied neatly together with yakiniku sauce; a perfect combination of sweet and earthy.
Just when we thought we were done, out came the scampi tempura. The fat scampi tails were coated in a light and crunchy batter and served with sweet ponzu sauce, coriander and jalapeño. While the sauce was nice, I did think something more delicate would have complemented the beautiful tempura scampi better.
Our final savouries were chopped up sushi rolls. I’m not big on soft-shell crab but I thought the spider maki roll was done well – loved the crispy batter combined with the lightest drizzle of mayo and chives. The tuna roll was also well done and the layer of tempura batter added an interesting element to what would have otherwise been just another bloody tuna sushi.
The guys obviously saved the best for last. The dessert platter was beyond amazing – possibly one of the better desserts I’ve had this year so far and that’s saying a lot! Sure, there was a lot of chocolate – and I normally don’t like chocolate desserts that much – but both the chocolate fondant and chocolate origami (dark chocolate mousse) were ticked all the right boxes.
The ice cream and Japanese yuzu tarts were also fantastic but the highlight of this platter was by far the green tea churros. Light and fluffy and oh-so-omg-cute-and-tiny, they were accompanied by a velvety milk chocolate sauce and red bean dip both of which were lovely, but the churros were insanely delicious on their own.
Our dinner at Saké was akin to a fun Shinkansen ride through the extensive menu, with heaps of corners to keep us on the edge of our seats. Sure, there were a few little elements from several dishes that I wasn’t too keen on, but it was overall a fantastic experience especially with the top service we received during the night. Definitely one to return to, if just for those green tea churros.