Sake Restaurant & Bar – 12 Argyle St, The Rocks, Sydney. http://www.sakerestaurant.com.au/
A special occasion was coming up and a friend had recommended Sake – she said the food was great and it had a fun atmosphere. This was exactly what we were after – the last thing we wanted was a restaurant which felt like a waiting room.
We arrived and sat by the bar, looking through the extensive menu, before we were taken to our booth. The ambience of Sake was just great and the restaurant itself is a lot larger than what it seems from the outside. The cocktail list was extensive and looked very inventive – so we each ordered a cocktail rather than our usual bottle of wine. In terms of food, we tossed up the idea of getting either the ‘signature dishes’ or ‘new classics’ banquet – this choice in itself was difficult as both banquets looked amazing. After deliberating for many minutes, we actually ended up ordering a la carte – in hindsight this was a great decision.
What we drank:
- Wakanai – pineapple juice, caramel, cinnamon, kaffir lime leaf & a hint of chilli ($12): a really nice mocktail for the teetotaler in the group
- Tanuki – Zubrowka, Le Birlou, shiso leaves, rhubarb, green apple & yuzu juice, topped with ginger beer ($19): an amaazing cocktail. I love ginger based cocktails, but often find that the ginger flavour is too strong. This one was just right, loved the combination of the ginger with the rhubarb and green apple. My pick of the cocktails
- Hattori Hanzo – Bombay Sapphire gin, Yuzu Sake, jalapeno pepper, cucumber, elderflower & citrus, served with mishima rim ($18): I’m usually not a big fan of cocktails with jalapeno in them, but this one was quite good.
- Kozaemon Junmai ($5.50): sake to finish off the meal – our waitress suggested it was like lemoncello. Loved it!
What we ate:
- Edamame – lightly salted soy beans in the pod ($9): really well seasoned and loved the spicy bite to it
- Kingfish jalapeno – yuzu soy, jalapeno slices & coriander ($22): many had told me to try this as it was Sake’s signature dish – a very tasty dish, loved the combination of the kingfish and jalapeno. I have to confess that it wasn’t my favourite dish of the night though.
- Tuna ceviche – lemon dressing, finished with coriander, jalapeno chilli, tomato & crunchy fried onion ($24): absolutely delish – the ceviche was perfect and the lemon added just enough acidity. Again, a fan of the jalapeno.
- Steamed prawn dumplings – 6 pieces of chinese-inspired shumai with spicy ponzu ($18): i’ve never had dumplings like these – the dough was stringy and had a really interesting texture. Really liked these!
- Tonkatsu cups – 4 pieces of panko-fried pork belly & spring-onion bites, served in lettuce cups with mustard miso & japanese barbeque sauce ($17): taste was good, but compared to the rest of the meal, these were a very standard offering. Did not get too excited by this dish.
- Sashimi tacos – tuna & salmon sashimi filled baby tacos with chilled tomato salsa matched with kozaemon junmai ‘sake shots’ ($33): amazing – I’ve had great fusion tacos before, but these were really something! I liked the tuna one slightly better – there was a bit more of a bite to it! Add the sake shot to it and you really cant complain.
- Gindara saikyo-yaki – caramelised, miso marinated silver cod ($38): one of my favourite fish combinations is miso with cod – these guys nailed it! My only complaint would be that the serving size on this was on the smaller side. Nevertheless, another favourite
- Alaskan king crab maki – juicy crab meat, avocado, cucumber, tobiko & mayo with a wasabi pea crunch coating on a wasabi pea puree ($20): delicious – the wasabi pea puree really made the dish for me as it gives the roll a real bite.
- Chocolate fondant – pure bliss. Contrary to popular opinion, I actually think it’s hard to find a perfect chocolate fondant – but these guys have done it!
- Green tea kitkat – what a perfect end to an amazing meal (well, we actually had lemoncello style sake as our dessert wine but yeah). This was a work of art – it really beat our expectations! Loved this dish – another favourite!
Loved the meal – the food was excellent, the cocktails were really inventive and the atmosphere was buzzing. You would hardly think that you were dining at a hatted restaurant, and that’s what I loved about it. A really great experience!
the verdict: 8/10 – everything fine dining should have, minus the stuffiness
don’t forget to order: sashimi tacos, green tea kit kat & tanuki cocktail
to try next time: miso cream scallops