Review: Saké (restaurant)

As is my want, having eaten at Sake Restaurant & Bar on The Rocks in Sydney, how can I not provide a review? Now I must say, I loved the fusion of the dishes, and will try to include as many photos as I can, because I did take them, however didn’t think it rated all that high in quality of meat compared to my local on the Gold Coast, Arakawa.

Their drinks list was superb, which comes as no surprise as this is the sort of place you come for lunch and entertain at, not doing any work in the afternoon. Decor… really awesome vibe inside, and very large so the place could seriously handle a lot of people. Also, when an order was put in, they came out fast, so a great kitchen!

Now I believe I mentioned they had a fusion sort of food menu. It was a sort of Japanese meets Mexican, or at least that’s what I think they were going for, but ended up being mostly Japanese tastes with an occasional flash of Mexican. Take for example the kingfish jalapeño, my first thought was of a flashback to Black Sombrero, Lismore and having jalapeño poppers. No such luck… instead, these were simply thinly sliced pieces of kingfish with a thinly sliced piece of jalapeño. I can deal with that, but there was no heat there at all, it was more of a decoration than a fusion. To add to my woes, having sampled a lot of kingfish at Arakawa, I didn’t find it to be very good quality (wasn’t as tender as I’d have expected) and was drowned in dressing. See for yourself.

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Moving onto another disappointment for me was the salmon belly nigiri, my first “toro” of the season and I was looking forward to it, but they must have had a bad cut because I wouldn’t have had it grilled on top, the toro should be amazing already.

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The steamed prawn dumplings were out of this world, lovely flavour, texture, presentation. However, if Dumpling Kitchen is still open in The Argyle (next door) I’m sure they could could also offer up a similarly tasting and looking dish, based on my experiences in January.

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There were moments of brilliance, such as with the miso-cream scallops, followed by questions of what were they thinking, when the wagyu new style is literally swimming in oil!

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One of the biggest fusions was sashimi tacos, which as you’d expect was a taco stuffed with sashimi. It tasted good, mainly because of all that sashimi, but the sashimi would have tasted good regardless. Ultimately, I thought the dish was great, it just lacked oomph… why am I ordering this dish when I can just order some sashimi… I’m definitely not getting any heat, it’s just cosmetic once again.

I’m sure the menu works, it’s something different, but I wonder if a touch more Mexican could really spice things up, could really bring out new flavours and something original, as it all seems a bit gimmicky.

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With thanks to Jetstar for my day. Other than gaining a middle seat, I had a lovely time in the F lounge (though that may have perhaps been more of Qantas’ doing).

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Once in Sydney I checked into the Westin with Martin, had drinks with Jeff at the Sheraton and eventually the party headed out from the Pullman to N2 Extreme Gelato for dessert together. A good day.

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Australia to Europe

I started my journey to Europe on Wednesday the 11th June, and although I got there on the 12th, I spent the next 24 hours travelling to the first actual pit stop, Florence.

Dee-Anne saw me off, driving me to the airport and then herself home. I didn’t get an upgrade, but the seat next to me was blocked and I had the First class lounge to look forward to in Sydney. The food there was well worth the 14 hours in economy I was to suffer on the way to Dubai. I think I nearly had an upgrade at the gate, but after some typing into the computer, there was no seat change for me.

First lounge delights

I ended up having 3 starters, the buffalo mozzarella with roasted red capsicum, grilled sesame tuna with red cabbage & salmon tartare. As none of the mains really interested me, I finished with the chocolate croissant bread and butter pudding, which was to die for! Along with some Champagne and a massage, I was well prepared for economy.

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The flight turned out to be fairly easy to survive, with another frequent flyer onboard, and a combination of sleep/talking to the FA’s a productive way to pass the time.

Emirates impresses

At Dubai I had another massage, and another impressive dinner, octopus carpaccio, saffron cashew chicken & umm ali (a traditional Egyptian dessert, about as local as I could find – that was amazing). Only downside was the top Champagne offered was simply Moët.

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At the gate for the final flight to the UK my boarding pass beeped though, providing some respite in the final 7 hours being in the comfort of business class. Having only travelled economy on the A380 in the past and other than on an A330 to Perth trying a skybed in the day, I’d never really had the experience of sleeping in one. Unfortunately, not a lot that’s positive, other than it being lie-flat… I found it very exposed to the aisle, very little privacy. Still, better than economy.

With the flight on time, I met mum at arrivals in Heathrow, she having arrived on an earlier flight from Hong Kong. The Tube to St Pancras took an hour… but once there we had a bite to eat, and even some Champagne, while waiting for our Eurostar connection to Paris.

In Paris, we had to change stations in just over an hour, and with the traffic it was a tight connection, but we made it from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon, and onto the Thello overnight sleeper to Milan, which now we’ve experienced a 4-berth, would be happy to avoid doing again! Cramped and awkward would sum it up.

Cramped 4-berth
Cramped 4-berth

Luckily the train from Milan to Florence was much nicer, higher speed (we reached 292 km/h) and we didn’t have to sit next to strangers. It did mean we arrived well before our checkin time though (to the apartment), but that’s another story.

Walk Around Sydney

Today Dee-Anne and I spent the day having a walk about Sydney.  We caught the train into Central station to start with, walking up to Hyde Park and the ANZAC memorial for a sombre start.  Down the reflecting pond we walked until we got to the Sydney Festival Village, where the line for Sacrilege, a bouncy-castle Stonehenge, was far too long for us to consider getting in it.  A shame as it looked like quite a cool thing.

The CBD from Domain park
The CBD from Domain park

Across the road from Sacrilege we took a look inside St Mary’s Cathedral, before walking through parks, including the Botanic Gardens, to the Opera House, somewhere Dee-Anne hadn’t been before. In one of the parks was a status of Robert Burns, an ancestor of Dee-Anne’s.

Dee-Anne at the Opera House
Dee-Anne at the Opera House
Sam at the Opera House
Sam at the Opera House
Flowers near the Botanic Gardens
Flowers near the Botanic Gardens

After the Opera House we took a walk to The Rocks for lunch, finding a great funky bar, The Argyle, and associated Dumpling Kitchen.  Food was excellent, some great fusion dishes.

 

Cheeseburger Gyoza
Cheeseburger Gyoza
Chinese Broccoli
Chinese Broccoli
Firecracker Prawn Dumpling
Firecracker Prawn Dumpling

Finally, on the way home we stopped at N2 Extreme Gelato, where they fuse incredible flavours on the spot, with the help of liquid nitrogen.  The visit was throughly enjoyed, and we shall be trying the Melbourne venue too.

A cloud of cool gas
A cloud of cool gas
Enjoyable
Enjoyable

Tonight we see Hurricane Transcriptions / Laborintus II.

Roadtrip

I feel like I’ve completed a rite of passage today. I drove most of the way between home on the Gold Coast and Sydney. Dee-Anne drive a little bit, but was ultimately too tired meaning I had to do the majority.

I had a short break in Coffs Harbour, waiting for sunrise, a short sleep in Kempsey, and breakfast in Port Macquarie before driving the final 4.5 hour segment in one go.

As half the driving was done at night I missed a lot of the wonderful landscapes, but had the benefit of cool air and not sticking to the seat with sweat. That all changed after sunrise, lots to marvel at, but boy was it hot. Drank as much water as I sweated out.

Still, I arrived in Sydney and parked up, before the hottest part of the day. Staying with Dee-Anne’s grandparents. It’s now time for a nap, catch up on some sleep!