Sake Restaurant – Popcorn Shrimp Revolution

Ahh Sake Restaurant, home of the famous popcorn shrimp, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

It’s been nearly a year since I last visited Sake, and it was indeed a long overdue visit. I can’t believe I’ve been doing that to myself, neglecting to satisfy my craving for that popcorn shrimp…okay I’m getting ahead of myself again.

In any case, the next time I had dinner, I resolved to go to Sake once more, as I was hugely impressed the first time I went – and it isn’t just the popcorn shrimp that’s doing the talking!

Date Visited: 22/10/2012
Address: 12 Argyle Street, The Rocks 2000
Go-to dish: popcorn shrimp

Sake Restaurant interior

Sake has a very traditional interior, yet it’s kept so immaculate that you just can’t help but feel it’s got a very modern – refined atmosphere to it. No need to describe it much more as the pictures do the talking.

Sake Restaurant bar area

This isn’t so much fine dining though – it’s amazingly, raucously loud in here. It’s a bit interesting that – despite the fact that Sake is definitely fancy, it feels like a restaurant you can just walk into and expect to get a good meal out of it. Indeed, you do get that, plus the awesome buzz that comes with it. If you’re not a fine dining fan because of the sometimes oppressive-feeling atmosphere (due to the silence and formal conduct) Sake is absolutely sure to float your boat.

Sake Restaurant interior

Reservations are generally recommended – we needed to make one even on a Monday night, and we had to actually vacate the table after a set time. This isn’t surprising though – this restaurant be fineeee and a dandy spot at The Rocks for a dinner.

We didn’t order too much tonight, ’twas more like a selection of entrées than anything substantial. No sushi – after all (rest assured though, if it’s the same quality as last time, then it’s going to be dandy).

Sake Restaurant kingfish

Hiramasa Kingfish sashimi w/yuzu dressing & daikon

I’m pretty much never going to go to a Japanese restaurant and not actually order sashimi, so this will perform that role this time around. Kingfish was on the menu for the sashimi treatment tonight, so I went with that.

The Kingfish here, of the Hiramasa variety has a spot on taste. It’s soft and contains a decent mix of fat not incomparable to some decent tunas. The flavour is sweet with a sour base taste provided by the yuzu dressing. It’s not exactly an agreeable taste to a lot of people, but I adore my sashimi, and this is right up there.

Sake Restaurant nigiri sushi

Chu-toro nigiri

Holy moley, I do not actually remember the last time I had chu-toro. They’re very expensive in Australia – these two pieces came in at $10 each. Yes you read that right – not $10 for two, $10 each. However, after seeing that price, I knew I had to actually get it. They’re not going to cheat to you about this, I know I’ll be getting some of the finest tuna this side of the world when I take a bite out of it.

Look at that beauty. Eloquently crafted, rich white fatty lines coursing through the supple pink flesh. A fine specimen from sight, triply so on taste. Apart from o-toro (which is the King of tuna, and arguably all sashimi fish).

I had to eat this the proper way – put onto side, use chopsticks to grasp top and bottom, dip only the tuna into the shoyu, and eat with the tuna touching the tongue first. It was amazing. Seriously, I cannot gush enough about good tuna and apart from a very nice experience at Sushi E, I haven’t had tuna of this calibre in living memory. In Japan I think I did – but I was unable to appreciate it then.

Best $10 spent. If you’re not into sashimi this won’t do anything to change your mind, but if you are…you’re doing your taste buds a huge disservice to not shell out for chu-toro or o-toro whenever it’s available. Heck, good luck finding o-toro in Sydney…it’s not even about price with that particular cut – it’s availability!

If I’m feeling good, I will actually shell out $50 for five pieces of this. And I wouldn’t be happier.

Sake Restaurant popcorn shrimp

popcorn shrimp: bite-sized prawn tempura pieces tossed
with creamy spicy sauce

Sake is known for its popcorn shrimp, so similar to that tuna above, if you don’t get the popcorn shrimp while you’re here, what are you doing?

I kid, but really, you should get the popcorn shrimp.

It’s actually fairly easy to make at home, and on one occasion I tried (to average results). Sake still does it the best though. The crispiness of that creamy batter which shames all ordinary tempura…the buttery miso which will do wonders with the shrimp, and the bite-sized pieces make you want to pop another one on your mouth…and then another…

Until you actually order a second bowl. Boy, was I tempted. Don’t be afraid to order several of these – you’ll always be able to finish them no matter how many (within reason) you order.

The flavours and textures are simple – the execution flawless. The result? Boundless addiction. Just you wait.

Sake Restaurant miso scallops

miso-cream scallops: pan-seared scallops, baby corn, asparagus,
shiitake mushrooms & yuzu miso cream

To finish off this seafood quad-fecta (there is just no ring to that at all) come the scallops. Almost always a staple for any seafood-heavy meal, these were on the menu and we had to get them. Usually, I wouldn’t but I like almost anything that has the word “miso” in it (guilty).

I’m also guilty of the fact that I prefer my scallops seared, rather than served as sashimi. Maybe my tongue just isn’t sensitive enough, but almost any scallop I’ve had raw just doesn’t have the same level of texture complexity that I enjoy so much from fish sashimi. Scallops also have extremely subtle flavours, which are not brought out so easily either. Searing them however, takes them to a different dimension.

The miso cream is just lovely. I think Sake has this nailed down pretty well especially seeing their execution with the popcorn shrimp as well. I reckon it’s actually the perfect complement to a cooked scallop, at least if you’re cooking it the Japanese way.

The scallops themselves were a little tough, as they are often prone to be, but that was forgivable, as it meant I didn’t have to be as delicate when chewing through them. Mmmm…abductor muscle.

Oh and the veggies are good too. *cough*. Yeah attention to detail = zero. Seriously though, they’re fine, just not worth talking about (as there’s nothing bad about them).

Sake Restaurant scallops

Sake Restaurant dessert

And for dessert we have a parfait that’s normally not on the menu – and I actually don’t even remember what it was #fail. HOWEVER, I remember that I really liked it – it was a very fluffy apple cream with sago balls on top of a Earl Gray tea pudding base that tasted fantastic. Seriously tea in desserts – it’s just such a good idea.

Sake restaurant – definitely worth more than one visit, I know I’ll be going there again and again.

As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three 😀

The Good: good food all round, fantastic sushi if it’s available. Popcorn shrimp!!

The Bad: good sushi – only if it’s available. Somewhat pricey (but not a true complaint)

I give Sake Restaurant & Bar a grand total of eight and a half Caesars out of ten – 8.5/10

Saké Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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