Sake Restaurant 2 Cover

Sake Restaurant & Bar Redux n = 2 | Menu Dégustation

Close friends of mine know that one of my preferred Japanese restaurants in Sydney is Sake Restaurant & Bar. Sure, it’s not my favourite (I think Sokyo takes that crown), but there’s something about the types of food served here that’s just…right when paired with the ambiance. Besides, what other Japanese restaurants serve sashimi tacos and popcorn shrimp? The latter being one of my favourite dishes.

So it was, that I decided to visit Sake once more with parents to try out something I have not partaken in before – their chef’s menu – a la degustation.

Date Last Visited: 19/7/2013
Address: 12 Argyle St The Rocks, NSW 2000
Recommended Dish(es): not the degustation

The chef’s menu is not prominently featured in their menu. It only takes up a small spot on the lower right corner, and isn’t emphasised. Discreet and discerning is the key, but are the dishes themselves the same? For $110pp, let’s find out.

Sake Restaurant interior
Minutes later, the tables got packed

As usual, Sake’s interior is pretty but also loud – it really is like a fancy pub. Makes sense, given its namesake.

Sake Restaurant table
Presentation as nice as always

But still, despite that, this is a restaurant of the Argyle, where quality is a big deal. Take Ananas for example. Presentation strives to be immaculate.

Sake
I have honestly forgotten the names of these

As it was a bit of an occasion, we all got some sake to start things off. Now I’m almost a teetotaler, so I don’t even remember what we ended up getting – but they were all quite strong, befitting the amount we get. Dad’s had a more plum overtone to it, while mine was peach, and mum’s apple. Don’t be fooled though – that’s just a mask as the overall taste is still 95% sake. If you like sake, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be unsatisfied by Sake’s range.

Jalapeno salmon: seared salmon with crunchy daikon slaw Sake Restaurant
Jalapeno salmon: seared salmon with crunchy daikon slaw

One of my favourite fish starts the deg off. So far, so good. The jalapeno salmon is most delicious, each fatty cut chows down excellently with the jalapeno mustard sauce. Bonus points for presentation – each cut has a line of fat on the side and layered to form a work of art *cough*.

If the rest of the deg is like this, then it has merit!

Wagyu tartare: hand diced wagyu beef, fried egg purée & sweet  potato crisp  Sake Restaurant
Wagyu tartare: hand diced wagyu beef, fried egg purée & sweet potato crisp

Now this is a unique one I have not seen before. The wagyu tartare is not something I’ve noticed on the menu, but I’m glad it made its way into the deg. Flavours were not overtly strong, more muted. While I’d have liked a strong flavour base, the extant palate was quite good already.

Where it shines is texture – as it’s tartare, it’s either love it or hate it due to its “rawness”, but really allows you to taste the beef. Love it!

Silver cod lettuce cups: grilled miso-marinated silver cod in lettuce cups  Sake Restaurant
Silver cod lettuce cups: grilled miso-marinated silver cod in lettuce cups

Unfortunately, this is where the deg begins to take a bit of a turn for the worse. The silver cod lettuce cups promised great tasting fish with a san choy bao-style wrapping, but what I got instead was too much lettuce, too little fish and overall not all that much flavour.

Steamed prawn dumplings: Chinese-inspired shumai with spicy ponzu Sake Restaurant
Steamed prawn dumplings: Chinese-inspired shumai with spicy ponzu

Chinese-inspired steamed prawn dumplings sadly also fail to make the mark. The problem was two-fold. One, there was not enough prawn relative to the dough, and two, the flavours, particularly in the sauce was just too weak. As such, it’s like dipping flour balls into distilled vinegar. Not all that impressive, I have to say. Certainly not Sake standards.

Pan seared ocean barramundi: cone bay ocean barramundi, finished with butter soy on sweet ponzu buckwheat & tomato salsa Sake restaurant
Pan seared ocean barramundi: cone bay ocean barramundi, finished with butter soy on sweet ponzu buckwheat & tomato salsa

The deg picks up with the pan seared ocean barramundi, a fantastic dish. A perfectly seared skin covering a belly of tender meat with a delicious, delicious butter soy. My mouth waters as I write about this dish. It’s great!

Scampi tempura crunchy tempura scampi tails with sweet ponzu,  coriander & jalapeño slices Sake Restaurant
Scampi tempura crunchy tempura: scampi tails with sweet ponzu, coriander & jalapeño slices

In terms of pure flavour, the scampi tempura really takes the cake home. The sauce and crispness of that batter just win so much. A safe dish, to be sure, but one that doesn’t disappoint. Full of flavour and crunchiness. After all, when did deep fried stuff paired with good sauce displease?

Nigiri sushi Sake Restaurant
Nigiri sushi

Another high point of the deg, the nigiri sushi at Sake, as always, is a necessary buy. Need I say more?

Chocolate fondant w/white sesame ice cream Sake Restaurant
Chocolate fondant w/white sesame ice cream

To close off the meal, a decent, but not impressive chocolate fondant is presented to us. As shown below, the fondant is texturally sound, with a firm cake surround and gooey innards oozing out, but the letdown was surprisingly the taste. It just wasn’t all that good.

The vanilla bean ice cream was a bit better, and I preferred it over the fondant, especially in its ability to cut through the fondant’s dullness.

Sake restaurant chocolate fondant
Proof that it’s a legit fondant. You could say the proof…is in the pudding #stopreading

So…what’s the verdict? A degustation is really meant to be a menu for which a newcomer to a restaurant can sample the best of that restaurant. In that regard, I very much would not recommend the deg – Sake does so much better if you know what dishes to order. It’s just unfortunate that they didn’t put their best dishes into the deg. With a price of $110 per person, it would also be much better to just go a la carte – e.g. for $220 between 2 people, you can get so much more variety.

A side of popcorn shrimp and avo maki rolls, much?

As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three :D

Awesome: half the dishes in the degustation

Not so Awesome: the other half

6/10 Caesars

Saké Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

12 thoughts on “Sake Restaurant & Bar Redux n = 2 | Menu Dégustation”

  1. ahhh i love sake esp the tacos but yes, it can be quite pricey. shame about the prawn dumplings, usually they’re so tasty!

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