The last time I set foot into Saké, I was still technically in high school. As far as hunting for Japanese food goes in Sydney, it’s not typically a name that comes to mind. But when you’re very nearly about to be handed the worst daughter of the year award for poor Mother’s Day planning, you feel morally indebted to the establishment and the quick working reservations agent who booked you in, half an hour before lunch time. Upon arrival, their team was also handing out tiny stalks of orchids to mothers dining that day, thank you, thank you Saké for saving my butt.
Generously salted and nicely steamed edamame were the perfect things to snack on at the start and in between waiting for dishes to arrive.
Akami and chūtoro sashimi
The reason for Japanese (not that one ever really needs a reason for Japanese) was Mom particularly feeling nigiri. She blames this on a recent trip to Tokyo that somehow didn’t include sushi, omakase or otherwise. This sparked us ordering one of Saké’s current specials, an akami and chūtoro sashimi plate. Upon arrival, I questioned the waiter as to where the akami was. He informed me that the top level of sashimi was the akami which you ‘can tell by its comparatively darker shade’. I’m not sure if we were both looking at two completely different things or if he was trying to pull a (not very) fast one but not only are the top rung and bottom rug identical, neither would have qualified for akami.
Assorted nigiri – Ootoro $10 each, saikou salmon $10 for 2 pieces, kingfish $12 for 2 pieces
Mom’s actual nigiri arrives and according to her, it’s all ‘not too bad’. The only one I steal from her plate is the extra ootoro (we actually only ordered one piece), which isn’t as fatty as what I’ve had in Japan nor as flavoursome.
Sushi and sashimi so far don’t seem to be the strong point at Saké.
Nasu miso $16
The appearance of the nasu miso surprised me. I’m far more used to thick chunks, hacked off a voluptuous eggplant, compared to these stringer counterparts, reminiscent of brinjal back home. Still, the flavours worked and the puffed rice (?) gave some textural crunch which most nasu dengaku usually lack. I’d tone down the chilli thread and coriander garnishing a tad if possible, an accidental mouthful left a weird grassy taste in my mouth.
Miso glazed ‘glacier 51’ toothfish $58
Almost everybody does a miso glazed [insert fish variety] nowadays and here in Sydney, we have some strong contenders such as Sokyo’s menu stalwart, the dengakuman. Saké’s waitstaff seemed pretty eager to put their bottom dollar on their toothfish rendition, which is what spurred us into ordering it. The end result was perfectly cooked fish, as its velvety pieces of flesh broke away at the slightest pressure from our chopsticks. Sweet caramelised miso permeated through each bite, this had definitely had the appropriate amount of marination time. The smoke and fire element was palpable in the charred ends and singed skin. For such a hefty price tag, expectations ran high and luckily, were met. There was also pickled radish to accompany which was good, but not great.
Oysters were a little on the small side and drowning in seasoning (wakame dressing, spicy ponzu, shiso salsa). This was real shame. Just the night before, we had been treated to exceedingly plump ones that were served naturally, which allowed the briny sweetness to shine through.
Seaweed Salad $14
The seaweed salad was well seasoned and I liked that it had a variety of seaweed, rather than just wakame or worse hiyashi wakame, which simply screams frozen from the nearest Asian supermarket. Interestingly enough, this also contained konjac noodles which I’ve never seen anywhere except maybe at hotpot.
A couple of above average dishes, some less so and an erroneous tip from one waitstaff later, we rolled out of Saké. At a price point like this, I can think of other Japanese restaurants and just restaurants in general, that I could patron. But factoring in the context of the situation, I really was really happy with what I got at the 11th hour and the service was extremely welcoming.