Tag Archives: sushi

Restaurant Review: Saké Restaurant & Bar

In 2009, Terry Durack reviewed Saké Restaurant & Bar, saying: “we now have our Nobu Sydney, only better”. Three years down the track, we have Nobu Perth and a mass of other big Japanese restaurant, which leads us to ask, is Saké Restaurant & Bar still that good?

If you go by the fact that it has retained a Chef Hat every year since its opening, then yes. But is the ‘Hat Criteria’ what everyone still desires of their dining experience? The recent shift towards more casual and accessible bistro-style restaurants suggests otherwise. We decided to head to the historic Rocks to find out what Saké Restaurant & Bar offers in 2012.

The sleek interior

At the heart of Saké Restaurant & Bar is Executive Chef Shaun Presland, so a review would not be complete without a brief look at his career. A proud Queenslander, Shaun is now one of Australia’s pre-eminent chefs of Japanese cuisine. His career began in a Ryokan in the mountains of central Japan, where he crafted the skills of the traditional local cuisine. Returning to Australia, he joined the Merivale clan, setting up Sushi-e and later, Ivy Teppanyaki and Sushi Choo. He then headed to the Bahamas where he became executive sous-chef at one of the famous Nobu restaurants. Backed by the omnipotent The Bavarian Hospitality Group (BHG), Saké Restaurant & Bar was born in 2009 with Shaun as Executive Chef. 12 months later, the Sydney Saké was awarded a Chef’s Hat and Brisbane became the home for another Saké restaurant. The evolution of Saké is the ultimate restaurant success story.

Chef Shaun Presland and Chef Shinichi Maeda (from Saké Restaurant & Bar Brisbane)

If you want a traditional sushi bar, then Saké Restaurant & Bar is not for you. It is sleek and modern – with chefs scuttling around wearing red-and-white chequered bandanas and a menu that features popcorn chicken. With various dining spaces – including four exclusive dining rooms, communal banquet tables, sushi bar seating and also a traditional Japanese sunken table – Saké Restaurant & Bar is adaptable and dynamic. The staff, while efficient, border on being overbearing and pretentious. However, the menu will exceed the expectations of even the most fastidious lover of Modern Japanese cuisine. The kingfish and salmon sushi cannot be faulted, the miso marinated butterfish lettuce cups offer a refreshing Japanese take on san choy bow while the teriyaki Wagyu 7+ skewers is beyond tender. The spicy eggplant kushiyaki isn’t memorable however the ‘S express’ sushi roll, filled with scallops, seared salmon and spicy mayo, is the pinnacle of my Saké Restaurant & Bar appreciation.

Anna Lisle

Saké Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Read more about Saké Restaurant & Bar here

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Filed under Saké Restaurant & Bar, The Rocks, Uncategorized

Discovering the new Darling Quarter dining precinct

With a 21-metre long firefox, water buckets, climbing ropes, swings and slides, the new Darling Quarter may not sound like a dining destination, but while it is a child’s fantasy-land, it doesn’t leave us adults unhappy either. Tucked cosily between the Chinese Gardens and the Darling Harbour waterfront, this new dining mecca offers a plethora of beautiful dining options.

Darling Quarter

On a glorious summer day I decided to do a little restaurant investigation at the new Darling Quarter. Desperate to find out whether this harbourside precinct would rival my beloved Level 6 at Westfield, I headed down there for a quick power lunch.

Excitedly, I perused the long strip of restaurants. Around me, well-suited businessmen, families and tourists all seemed to have flocked here to soak up the warm sunshine. It had been open only a few weeks and already, the place was buzzing.

My stress levels reached fever high as I pondered what I should have for lunch. A green curry at the open-plan kitchen at Nok Nok Thai Eating House (from the founders of Stir Crazy)? A gourmet salad from either Fat Duck Rôtissoire Kitchen and perhaps a wine from Italian bar Janus? Or a Mediterranean meal in the swish Michael McCann-designed (Flying Fish, Vic’s Meats Woollahra) Stacks Taverna? The choices were endless and after much deliberation, I finally settled on a sushi train feast at Umi Sushi and Udon.

The colourful fit-out at Taste Baguette

Perched at the sushi bar, with the chefs there to keep me amused, a selection of sashimi, miso eggplant and crispy salmon skin was the perfect lunch combination. The excited vibe of Darling Quarter was contagious – and I walked back to the office nourished, and in high spirits. Darling, I will see you again soon.

Anna Lisle

Perched at the Umi Sushi + Udon's sushi train

Darling Quarter restaurants:

Meno Diciotto
Best for: Italian gelati

Son of Tuysuz
Best for: chicken or lamb kebab

Nok Nok Thai Eating House
Best for: authentic Thai curries and stir fries

Stacks Taverna and Bar
Best for: DIY “cook your own” aged rump Angus beef

Best for: “The Classic” Vietnamese baguette

Best for: cachaca! (a Brazilian spirit made from sugar cane juice). Braza has the first cachaca bar in Sydney

Best for: boutique Italian wine bar

Best for: Belgian waffles with Guylian chocolate dip and praline ice cream

Box & Bowl
Best for: takeaway pho

Umi Sushi + Udon
Best for: sashimi and sushi from sushi train

Fat Duck Rotisserie Kitchen
Best for: rotisserie-roasted pork roll

Address: Darling Quarter, Darling Walk, 1-25 Harbour Street, Sydney


Filed under Events, Reviews