Saké Restaurant & Bar

Disclaimer: I was invited by HotHouse Media to attend the preview dinner event at Saké Restaurant & Bar. All thoughts and opinions are based purely on my experience at the time of visit.

Saké Restaurant & Bar is one of those restaurants that you don't want to put in the "chain restaurant" basket simply due to the experience and quality of the food. Having restaurant in both Sydney and Brisbane, the new(ish) Melbourne outpost is situated in Hamer Hall at the Arts Centre overlooking the Yarra river. In a modern setting, patrons can indulge in contemporary fusion Japanese cuisine from the capable hands of Rose Ang.

To start off the proceedings, we were offered a twist on a Tom Collins - instead of using Gin, they substituted it with Shochu which has a neutral flavour to work well in the cocktail. It was sweet, refreshing and I do love to finish with a mascarpone cherry.

An inspired Tom Collins

That night, we dined on the Signature menu ($88) which consists of seven courses and would be ideal for those who don't want to think, just relax and eat. Our dishes were all matched with sake specially selected by Alex Watson, who was a few days fresh off the plane from his trip to Japan immersing himself in the sake culture there. We were all starving and the Kingfish tataki was a welcoming sight. The Kingfish, firm with a mild fishy taste, went superbly well with the citrus, salty marinade and the jalapeño gave it an extra kick of tang.

Kingfish jalapeño - Hiramasa Kingfish, yuzu soy, jalapeño & coriander

The Salmon tataki was delicate with the sauce reminding me of a Japanese mustard, karashi; although it lacked that little something to bring it up to par with the Kingfish.

Salmon tataki, jalapeño dressing

I'm not sake expert in any means but this sake was elegant and smooth with a slight acidity.

Kozaemon Junmai Daiginjo

Bearing many similarities with aracini, the rice was creamy and soft with morsels of soy bean, bamboo and shitake mushroom hidden in a crunchy coating. The panko fried rice balls with the wasabi mayonnaise were the perfect carb dish to fill up our hungry stomachs.

Panko fried rice balls with soy bean, bamboo & shitake mushroom

The miso maranited cod was smoky and salty balanced by the slivers of ginger and fresh lettuce. One was simply not enough, I could have eaten a dozen of these.

Silver cod lettuce cups - grilled miso-marinated silver cod in lettuce cups

The popcorn shrimp was an impressive serving and while I enjoyed it, the creamy sauce could have done with more spiciness; nonetheless it suited the crisp battered shrimp.

Popcorn shrimp with creamy spicy sauce & yuzu dressed salad

I much preferred the second sake poured - a crisp flavour that balanced out the heavy, fried dishes.

Kozaemon Junmai Ginjo Shinano (organic)

The pièce de résistance of the night was the Wagyu beef which was tender and had a wonderful meaty flavour. The buckwheat was a tad bit too salty for me personally but others thought it was fine.

Wagyu teriyaki 7+ wagyu beef, sautéed shitake & buckwheat, yakiniku sauce

The mixed green salad was seasoned beautifully however I found the miso soup salty.

Mixed green salad, steamed rice and miso soup

A glass of pinot noir accompanied the wagyu beef perfectly.

Two Paddocks 'Picnic' Pinot Noir 2010

To finish off our meal, the buttermilk panna cotta layered with passion fruit coulis in the beautiful Japanese ceramic bowl had the whole table cooing. The texture of the panna cotta was light and melted away, marrying well with the tart passion fruit coulis.

Chef’s dessert - buttermilk panna cotta with passionfruit coulis

The yuzu sake was by far my favourite - for those of you who don't know what yuzu is, it is a citrus fruit, like a cross of a mandarin and lemon - balanced well between sweet and sour. This is definitely one of those drinks you can drink large amounts because it's so tasty and refreshing and then suddenly, you're laying down trying to stop the floor from spinning around you.

Kozaemon Yuzu

Although I tend to favour the more traditional side of Japanese cuisine, I did enjoy Saké's fusion take using fresh produce and flavours. If you're interested in visiting Saké Restaurant & Bar, they have a couple of special events as part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival that you can check out:

Saké Restaurant & Bar
Lower Ground Hamer Hall
Arts Centre Melbourne
100 St Kilda Road
Melbourne VIC 3004
(03) 8687 0775

Lunch daily noon - 3pm
Mon to Thu 6pm - 10.30pm
Fri 6pm - midnight
Sat 5.30pm - 11.30pm
Sun 5pm - 10pm

Sake Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon


  1. Ohhh so lucky you got to try out Sake :) I only tried out a few of their dishes at Taste of Melbourne last year and even though it was good, I didn't find it that amazing. But you're photos may have changed my mind especially those panko fried rice balls!

    Damn though they only gave you guys one dessert to try hehe!

    1. It was an enjoyable dinner and yes, sadly we only had one dessert haha but at least it was delicious! If you enjoy fusion Jap, you'll like this!

  2. Oh lucky girl. Sake is a nice restaurant to dine out. Great views and great Japanese food. Love the look of the kingfish jalapeno, panko fried rice balls and popcorn shrimp - all looking very decadent. Yum!

    1. Yes, I loved the view and it was pumping for a Wednesday night! I want to try recreate some dishes, lots of inspiration!

  3. We quite love Sake -- good modern Japanese. Desserts are a mess though. We hope you don't become one of those bloggers who accept invitation after invitation from PR firms...It is good to see that you put your disclaimer first thing on your post! Hope to continue viewing your blog. :)

    1. Hi Momo & Coco, thanks for your comments! I feel I am very selective with the invitations I choose to accept and Sake happened to be one of those restaurants that I have wanted to try but never had the chance to. I do feel that disclaimers should be clear and mentioned first - at least readers have a choice whether they want to keep reading or not :)

  4. Ah, I wanted to go to this event! Food looks amazing! :) The panko fried rice balls are very playful, love the idea! Will have to visit soon :)

    1. Yes, considering they're like arancini in the shape of onigiri, it was a good dish! So much creamy carb goodness :)

  5. Ahhh so pissed off to not have been at the event (bf would kill me if I said that I'd rather be at Sake than in his company - hahaha)! The food looks great (eying the kingfish and the rice balls mmmm) and it would have been wonderful to have met you. Oh well, next time!

    1. Hahah shh don't tell him! Yes, the kingfish and the rice balls were among my fav dishes! Hopefully we get to meet next time :)


Thank you for your comment!