Sake looked welcoming and there was plenty of room for us so we decided to give it a go. We were shown to a table but decided to sit at the sushi bar to watch the action. Shaun Presland as hard at work along with the sous chef he had on Masterchef this series.
Sake is all shiny and new. We passed a couple of small private dining rooms on our way in and the kitchen area is impressive with a lot of staff hard at work. Front of house also seemed to be high in numbers. Our waiter was friendly and knowledgeable and everyone seemed enthusiastic and positive.
The high numbers of staff is probably due to training as the experienced teams from the other restaurants pass on their expertise to the Melbourne team. Certainly we watched that happen in the kitchen as a few key people demonstrated their skills and there was some taste testing going on.
The Kingfish Jalapeño - Hiramasa kingfish, yuzu soy, thin jalapeño slices & coriander came in thicker slices and more of them so that wins for me! Very very close to the original but the jalapeno just didn't have the heat that we're used to. The jalapeno used here is of the larger variety which are traditionally milder. Whilst it lacked the heat the larger slices meant that there was more crunch which added e another enjoyable dimension. Verdict - I preferred it here, the larger serve and thicker slices if fish did it for me. Steve just, by a whisker, preferred Nobu because he missed the chilli kick.
The Wagyu New Style - thin slices of Wagyu beef lightly seared with hot oil & finished with ginger, chives & yuzu was not quite the same as our much loved beef tataki. Sake do a beef tataki but we decided to try something a little different. The slices of beef were slightly warm and had been seared with a blow torch. The sesame seeds and other seasonings were good complements. Verdict - good but I would try the beef tataki or Wagyu tartare next time.
- Tuna ceviche, lemon dressing, finished with coriander, jalapeño chilli, tomato & crunchy fried onion
- Tonkatsu cups - 4 pieces of panko-fried pork belly & spring-onion bites, served in lettuce cups with mustard miso & Japanese barbeque sauce
- Spider maki - fried soft-shell crab, cucumber & mayo with spicy tobiko, chives
The tuna ceviche was fresh and light with a great citrus zing and crunchy textures from the salad and fried onion.
The pork belly cubes were like shredded pork croquettes and I think I'd have preferred actual pieces of pork belly with crackling a bit like the crispy pork sliders at Spice Temple. I think I thought it would be like for some strange reason but they weren't. Still a good bite size canape style foot item though.
The spider maki was a great sushi roll. Loved the crunchy sweet crab, the hint of spiciness coming through, the bubbly roe and fresh chives. Definitely a recommendation and so many other rolls to try. Bring on S Express next time!
I love fried chicken and we didn't choose it from the menu as there were too many other things to try but lucky for us, the kitchen apparently had a serve going spare and we must have been deserving of it. The chicken came with a side of some sort of spicy mayo which was sharp and piquant with some spiciness to it. The chicken was just so crispy on the outside and moisy and juicy on the inside. This was good fried chicken!
Our first choices of main course were the Buta No Kakuni Onsen Tamago - 12 hour braised pork belly, daikon radish, 64oC hens egg, truffle oil scallions and the Pan Seared Ocean Barramundi - Cone Bay Ocean Barramundi pan seared & finished with butter soy on sweet ponzu buckwheat & tomato salsa but we were advised neither were available. Sad face.
So we went for the Wagyu Teriyaki - Grainfed Wagyu 7+ cooked medium rare, served on
sautéed shiitake & buckwheat with yakiniku sauce. We'd not gone for this from the off as I think we both though beef teriyaki, surely there's more exciting dishes to have and bypassed it. However, I am so glad we had the opportunity to try out as it was truly great.
The beef was cooked just how I like it and was so tender and flavoursome unlike the steak we'd had earlier in the week at San Telmo which although flavoursome lacked tenderness. And this one was $10 cheaper although smaller in size not by a huge amount though. And this beef was rich and just so moreish. Loved the shiitake mushrooms and buckwheat too and the sauce was great with the bowl of steamed rice that came. This is definitely a favourite dish.
Loved the stodginess and density of the pudding - ribstickingly good. Thve ice cream was light and silky smooth fragranced with vanilla and the soy caramel was like salted caramel with a little more depth to it. Interesting Asian twist to the more common salted caramel.
Loved it at Sake - really hope they do well and the standards stay high. Already looking forward to the next time and already have a pretty good idea of what I want to try and what I want to have again. Always a good sign of repeat business for the Barleys when we already know what we'll be ordering!