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King brown mushroom yakitori (1)

Words by Connie Lambeth

Images Supplied/Dessert Image Connie Lambeth

If there’s such a thing as a ‘riff of dishes’, the tastebuds were fairly singing during our recent lunch at Saké Restaurant and Bar Flinders Lane, Melbourne.

With a reputation for creative Japanese food, this sophisticated, award-winning restaurant was set to showcase a selection of their new Spring dishes, designed by Saké Restaurants’ Executive Chef, Shaun Presland. Presland recently returned to the Rockpool Dining Group after travels in New York, London and Tokyo, where he won the silver prize at the Washoku World Challenge 2016, now leading the ‘culinary vision, innovation and execution for the whole Saké brand’.

www.theaustraliatimes.com/welcome-back-to-sake-shaun-presland

Executive Chef of Saké Restaurants
Shaun Presland, Executive Chef Saké Restaurants

The semi-private dining space with view of the restaurant, was the ideal spot to observe chefs calmly working their magic in the open kitchen, while guests sipped Lychee inspired cocktails, keen to take on ‘traditional Japanese food with a contemporary twist’.

Welcomed by Presland and the Executive Chefs of Saké Flinders Lane and Saké Hamer Hall, brothers Yosuke Hatanaka and Shimpei Hatanaka, it was time to settle down to some serious feasting.

Yosuke & Shimpei Hatanaka
Yosuke Hatanaka – Saké Flinders Lane & Shimpei Hatanaka – Saké Hamer Hall

Our Spring lunch turned out to be a feast of ten inspirational dishes, crafted with a depth and balance of flavours which can only be achieved through a high degree of technical expertise, along with the inclusion of several distinctive ingredients, some unique to Japanese cooking. Textural differences were significant, from ‘silk and velvet’ to ‘pop and crunch’ and all things in-between.

Agedashi Tofu
Agedashi Tofu

Selection of Saké Spring Dishes

so many palate pleasers, a bundle of personal highlights…no particular order!

  • king brown mushroom Totally hooked on this yakitori, with the firm fleshy texture of the ‘hero ingredient’ elevated with the sour hit of sudachi. Seriously good.
  • agedashi tofu – While tofu is often tagged as ‘bland’, the bean curd takes on a whole new dimension when a professional takes up the challenge. This dish was both tasty and delightfully textural. With silken tofu covered in sweet potato starch and seaweed, then lightly deep fried, the end result presented as delicate, pretty on the plate. The crunchiness, biting down to the creamy heart, was satisfying to say the least. Served with asian mushroom and tentsuyu dip.
  • chicken – Another awesome yakitori with all the gratification of edging succulent morsels off  a skewer! Meat marinaded in shio koji, the dish was accompanied by spicy daikon oroshi. The crunch of the Japanese radish, with a hint of sweet and slight note of spice, worked really well in this dish. 
  • octopus – So meaty, so succulent. A richness of flavour ramped up beautifully with the chili oil and konbu. Still thinking about this flavour-packed dish, while the kitchen team are likely still discussing the size of the tentacles of this whopping catch!
  • miso glazed ‘glacier 51’ toothfish – when Shaun Presland mentioned this fish was actually caught on a glacier, a ‘glacier to plate’ image sprang to mind, evoking thoughts of wild caught/pristine/fresh/icy. There was something quite special about this dish. A ‘sweetish’ white fish, delicate, with a degree of flavour complexity, served as the best fish should be…minus the interruption of bold flavours. Use of a traditional miso glaze was an excellent choice.

   **more info on glacier 51 toothfish: glacier51toothfish.com

  • chirashi salad – There was little chance of easing to a stop when the last savoury course presented as a pile of perfect salad greens…perhaps the deep fried chicken bites peeking through the leaves proved just too tempting! Either way the plate was (almost) wiped clean. The smack of crunchy chicken and tang from the yuzu vinaigrette splashed over leaves, turned out to be a real palate cleanser and quite the moreish little number. 
Chirashi Salad
Chirashi Salad

  **further savoury dishes included a sashimi chirashi salad, kingfish, 2 pork dishes, and a beef  tataki

  • chef’s choice dessert – What a treat when dessert was delivered in a traditional bowl with a lid; a surprise package exuding mystery, a definite conversation starter. Designed in part for special occasions, a lidded bowl certainly has the effect of making a diner feel special. Lid off, the visual appeal was striking. Though this deconstructed tofu cheesecake aroused plenty of comment, less than a mouthful later all had succumbed to the spell of the lush blend of silken tofu, marscapone, and cream cheese, shrouded in mandarin coulis with fresh fruit segments and edible flowers. As a guest noted: ‘nothing quite beats the light, fresh taste of a fruity dessert to finish off a meal’, with the tang of the citrus lifting this dish to another level.
Tofu Cheesecake
Tofu Cheesecake

A superb end to an impressive dining experience at Saké Flinders Lane.

With Saké Restaurant & Bars in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, kick a few of your ‘must try’ restaurant goals this Spring.

*Thank you to chefs and kitchen team, Nicole and wait staff for our wonderful day!

www.sakerestaurant.com.au

**Please Note: Menus vary in individual Saké Restaurants

Buta no kakuni - braised pork belly
Buta no kakuni – braised pork belly

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**Connie was a guest of Rockpool Dining Group

This is an independent account – Saké Restaurant & Bar Flinders Lane  – 22nd September 2017

Connie Lambeth – The Australia Times News

Editor GOURMET – Food/Wine/Events

E: literallyconnie@gmail.com

Follow us on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/tatgourmetmag

Yakitori selection varies at individual Saké Restaurants
Yakitori selection varies at individual Saké Restaurants

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READ ON to see Yakitori Menu at Saké Flinders Lane and Saké Hamer Hall, Spring menus for Shaun Presland lunch, plus additional pics from Saké Restaurants…

YAKITORI – Saké Flinders Lane:

Eggplant

King Mushroom

Baby Octopus

Chicken

Teriyaki Lamb Chop

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YAKITORI – Saké Hamer Hall:

Spanish Mackerel

King Mushroom

Baby Octopus

Chicken

Pork Neck

Teriyaki Lamb Chop

Nori crisps, tuna & kingfish
Nori crisps, tuna & kingfish
Nasu dengaku
Nasu dengaku
Grass fed beef tataki
Grass fed beef tataki

Menu 

hiramasa kingfish

coriander infused sweet ponzu / lime & jalapeño kosho

grass fed beef tataki

snow pea sprouts / onion / cherry tomato / garlic chips

king brown mushroom

sudachi gel / coriander

octopus

chili oil / konbu

chicken

shio koji / spicy daikon oroshi

pork neck

aka miso / spring onion

buta no kakuni

braised pork belly / onset egg / hot mustard / spinach

miso glazed ‘glacier 51’ toothfish

den miso / pickles

chirashi salad

sashimi / masa go / lettuce yuzu vinaigrette

chef’s choice dessert

tofu cheesecake

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Menu

agedashi tofu

asian mushroom / tentsuyu

tomato avocado

avocado / cucumber / cherry tomato / garlic chips

king brown mushroom

sudachi gel / coriander

octopus

chili oil / konbu

chicken

shio koji / spicy daikon oroshi

pork neck

aka miso / spring onion 

buta no kakuni

braised pork belly / onset egg / hot mustard / spinach

miso glazed ‘glacier 51’ toothfish

den miso / pickles

chirashi salad

chicken garage / lettuce yuzu vinaigrette

chef’s choice dessert

tofu cheesecake