22 Jan Sake, Southbank
I remember when I first heard Sake was opening up in Melbourne. Shaun Presland, who trained in the art of sushi in Japan and worked there for 15 years, was bringing his sushi skills over from Sydney. Excitement ensued, but until now, I still hadn’t managed to make a visit.
As well as food, they serve a range of cocktails, wines and Japanese craft beers. Given its location underneath Hamer Hall, it’s appropriate that Sake has a pre-theatre menu as well. As much as I would love to come for a full meal sometime, we drop by one morning for a drink and small bite before continuing with the rest of the day’s activities.
Having never been inside before, I’m surprised by how large it is. The two-level restaurant has a variety of seating arrangements both inside and outside, everything from bar seats to semi-private spaces.
The Australian Open is on, and we start with some of the cocktail specials that were created for the occasion. There the fruity Nadal, with Mezcal Monte Alban, Kirinzan Blue, yuzu, passionfruit, and shiso umeshu. The Grandslam makes a spectacular entrance, the cocktail held in an ice sphere and shrouded in liquid nitrogen. The cocktail itself is one of blueberry gin, rosemary syrup, and yuzu, and despite my initial concern about the rosemary, I find it quite tasty. I take a little too long drinking this one and it eventually starts leaking from the side as the sphere melts. Rookie mistake.
The day is looking to be hot, so we order the kingfish jalapeño with yuzu soy, jalapeño and coriander. Both the style of dish and its piquant and slightly biting yuzu soy dressing is refreshing, and it’s the perfect way to begin the meal.
We’re in a real sushi mood too, so we have the crispy nigiri salmon with scallop and spicy mayo. As I read the description I imagine there’ll be a crispy element on top of the fish, but the seafood is actually set on top of a crispy block of rice. Salmon blankets the creamy scallops, and there’s just the right amount of sea salt sprinkled over it to complement and not overwhelm the seafood. It’s a modern take on nigiri, and one I’d be keen on trying again.
Unagi is one of my favourite sushi ingredients. Here the unagi roll also comes with aburi tamagoyaki inside. The luscious texture of the sushi filling contrasts with the wasabi furikake that’s sprinkled on top, and the sticky soy that’s drizzled over it adds a slightly sweet touch.
Although the Australian Open cocktail specials may be over, Sake’s delicious food still remains. It is pricey, but the quality of the dishes, and produce they’re comprised of, speak for themselves.
Disclaimer: I was invited to Sake as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and are based on my experience at the time
100 Saint Kilda Road
Melbourne, VIC, 3004
(03) 8687 0775