There’s a warmth and a simple wooden elegance about Saké, one of the new additions to the Eagle Street Pier dining precinct, which is both inviting and relaxing.
Established only a year in Sydney, Saké has attracted a coveted Chef’s Hat and loyal fan base.
Now Brisbane has its own Saké with a chic designer setting modelled on its Sydney sibling and an outstanding à la carte menu created by Executive Chef Shaun Presland.
Head Chef Shinichi Maeda drawing on his extensive knowledge of regional produce to deliver a sensational bar menu and seasonal additions to the main menu. Shinichi spent seven years as Executive Chef at Wasabi, Noosa.
All food is matched with Japan’s finest sake and shochu varieties.
The Saké Bar already is attracting a substantial following buoyed by Brisbane’s pre-Christmas celebrations. It’s an attractive drinking space and the addition of sake and shochu adds to the pleasure.
Cocktails with a Japanese twist are another feature . Think ‘Springtime in Tokyo’ (Kumesan sake fat-washed with roasted coconut, Appleton Reserve and fresh pineapple juice) to Manga-inspired creations such as ‘Astro Boy’ (Tantakatan shochu, plum wine, plum purée, pink grapefruit and peach bitters).
Sake’s small (8 seat) private dining rooms are a welcome addition to the Brisbane scene as well. The restaurant also has a 12 seat and 24 seat room.
We sat in the traditional Japanese ‘sunken’ dining area. With bench seating and plenty of room for your legs under the table, it’s a fun option. Getting into and out of the sunken seating is a little more complicated than pulling up a chair so gals, don’t wear tight skirts and expect to find it easy. Pants or flowing skirts will be a much easier option.
But first we experienced the Kagami-Biraki Sake Ceremony with a dramatic breaking of the sake drum by the principal restaurant players.
Here’s what we ate –
A selection of otsumami – steamed prawn dumplings, tamago-kani (grilled Mooloolaba spanner crab & spicy tobiko on sweet sushi omelette blocks), salt & pepper sato-imo (crispy fried Japanese potato tossed in green tea, salt and pepper), edamame (lightly salted soy beans in the pod).
Kingfish jalapeno – Hiramasa kingfish, yuzu soy, thin jalapeno slices & coriander. This delicate dish could have been easily overpowered but was perfectly matched with the subtly fragrant Yuho Homare Daiginjo.
Ocean trout tasting plate – Ocean trout and avocado sushi roll, ocean trout tataki salad with with white dressing and ocean trout tacos. The anise and floral aromas of the Amabuki Junmai Daiginjo complimented the ocean trout and the roundness of junmai style provides a textural match.
Grilled scampi – grilled tea salted scampi with lemon paired with Kozaemon Honjozu Kyoukai #7 Koubo Dry. This was a perfect combination - the wonderfully delicate honjozo loved the salt and squeeze of lemon with the scampi.
Beef teriyaki – grainfed sirlion cooked medium rare, served on sautéed shiitake & buckwheat with yakiniku sauce accompanied with wagu & sea urchin sashimi. Paired with the gamey, earthy and nutty flavours of the full three year aged Kozaemon Junmai.
Chilled dashi cleanser
Whiting tempura – crisp tempura whiting fillet wrapped with shiso and ume boshi with ten-tsuyu dipping sauce. Paired with Amabuki Yamahai Junmai Omachi. The yamahai method provides the acid to cut through the tempura as well as an explosion of flavour to match to ume boshi.
Aburi – five kinds of seared nigiri sushi paired with Kozaemon #38 Junmai Ginjo Omachi. Supple and restrained with a mild fruity sweetness, this beautifully balanced ginjo loves sushi rice and has no battle with the fish oils.
Panna shotta – a buttermilk panna cotta, raspberry sauce and toasted coconut pre-dessert
Chocolate fondant – warm chocolate pudding with sesame ice-cream and black sesame tuille paired with Kozaemon Umeshu – a special sweet plum wine that is delicious with chocolate.
And the finale – Kozaemon Yuzu Sake – a refreshing blend of sake and yuzu juice, the limoncello of sake.