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SAKE: Cherry Blossom Festival

It was Melbourne's turn to host Sake's Sakura Harajuku Night

For Japan, spring marks the occasion to celebrate cherry blossoms (traditionally known as ‘sakura’). Whilst being an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, the cherry blossom lifecycle has been extended and embraced by Sake Restaurant & Bar in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The month-long event has seen the likes of theme dinners, inspired cocktails and learning a thing or two about Sake.

The last Friday of September marked the occasion to temporarily transform Sake with a dash of Neo-Tokyo. The decor was set with red lanterns hanging above the outside dining area and cherry blossoms inside the indoor dining area. As the sun set, the night sky complemented the city lights; conditions which were perfect for some Neo-Tokyo inspired cocktails.

Yakusa Bullet – A blend of aromatic berries and herbs served short and sweet.

The list of cocktails were crafted exceptionally well in both taste and appearance. The Yukusa Bullet was a visual stand-out which was served in an ice-cream cone cup! The cocktail was very sweet with a strong berry taste and the foam texture fools the eye in thinking its a melted ice-cream. A popular choice for the ladies.

Next up was the very pleasant and elegant looking Hoshiri Shake, taking inspiration from the martini. While having a strong fruity overtone, it was exceptionally smooth from start to finish.

Hoshiri Shake – A lean chilled our martini served straight up.

Round two saw more of a traditional focus. The Shochu-Chu  had a double shot of Shochu Infusions which tasted very similar to a gin and tonic. Whilst having a bitter bite to it, the soda water acted as the necessary counter – balancing agent.

Shochu-Chu – Double shot of Shochu Infusions, light refreshing notes of herbs and fresh fruit, with self-served soda water (electing the cucumber, lemongrass and lavender flavour).

Lastly, the Osaka Mule was served in what looked like a jam jar with all the freshness that is expected from this classic with a twist.

Osaka Mule – A delicate Japanese twist on the classic mule, served tall and fresh.

With drinks happily consumed, we moved our interest to the offerings of the Izikaya menu. While being out of the ‘Cheeseburger’ Gyozas (yes, you heard right!), the sashimi was of exceptional quality with the dipping sauce significantly spicy. Some will like it, while others may find the taste too complex. However,  for the regular sashimi diner, this dish will surprise and excite the taste-buds.

Sashimi – Tuna and Salmon skewers

The second and final bite-sized dish was the chicken nanban zuke: fried chicken pieces with chilli infused hot vinaigrette and chilled pickled cucumber. With the hype of fried chicken in Melbourne, we were expecting a crispy delight. The innovative dished infused the vinaigrette with the chicken pieces which made them quite soggy. Whether being intentional or not, the chicken did loose its crunchy texture and had a slight chilli flavour. The pickled vegetables worked well with the chicken, however I felt the overall dish wasn’t coherent as it could have been.

Left to right Sashimi – Tuna and Salmon skewers & Sunomo – Chicken Nanban Zuke

As the cherry blossoms bloom and then wilt away, Sake Restaurant and Bar proves to be a vibrant food and drink destination; pushing the boundaries to inspire patrons. With its stunning views of Melbourne’s CBD, Sake Restaurant and Bar is a venue for any occasion.

Opening hours:
Mon – Fri: 12pm – 3pm

Mon – Fri: 5.30pm – late
Sat – Sun: 12pm – late

Missed out the first time? Not to worry. Harajuku Pop-Up Bar at Saké returns as part of the The Age Good Food Month on the 7th November from 6pm – midnight.  More information can be found here.

Food in pictures

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