Posts Tagged Japanese
Sake Restaurant and Bar opened at the new look Hamer Hall late last year. After drooling over the menu of its predecessor in Sydney (there is also one in Brisbane), I was a little excited when I heard it was opening in our fine city. With the back drop of Southbank and one of the best views of the river going round, they are really onto something.
While the food menu drew me in (we will get to that a little later), the interesting Japanese inspired cocktail menu was what really sparked my interest. I chatted with Alex Watson, Bar Manager, about cocktails, his favourite drink and the beautiful lady that is Melbourne. After a meal matched with a Japanese twist on the Tom Collins, two types of sake, red wine and yuzu sake to finish, I trusted him when it came to food and drink matching.
Amy: Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you came to work at Sake Restaurant and Bar?
Alex: Before I moved to Melbourne I was Bar Manager of the Purple Bar with the Sanderson Hotel in London. Prior to that I worked for Gordon Ramsay and Langham Hotels. I have a huge passion for Japanese culture and cuisine and the timing of Sake Hamer Hall opening couldn’t have been better.
Amy: What is the focus of the drinks list at Sake?
Alex: We try to cover most bases with the wine list and we have a very premium selection of sake we exclusively import ourselves for all three sake venues. Other than Midori and Malibu we pretty much cover all other familiars.
Amy: How did you go about creating your cocktail and wine list?
Alex: My inspiration for cocktails has come from living in London & Manhattan. These two cities really pay attention to the classics. My list pays its dues to some classics twisted in a contemporary Japanese way.
Amy: Do you think Sake the drink is becoming more prevalent in Australian restaurants?
Alex: Yes absolutely. Certainly the concept of the modern Japanese restaurant has taken off globally in the last couple of years and sake comes hand in hand with that.
Amy: What do you want the bar at Sake to be for people?
Alex: Everything. A night cap and some dessert with the family after a show. A couple of cocktails before heading to dinner in the city or a casual beer and some uber fresh sashimi after work. We cater for all.
Amy: What’s your favourite ingredient to use in cocktails?
Alex: It all depends on whom I’m making it for but right now we are playing with different types of bitters for our fall/winter cocktail list.
Amy: What is your opinion on cocktail and food matching?
Alex: I love talking to the chef about food and cocktail matching. For me a dining experience isn’t complete if you don’t have a great beverage match. Cocktails have a strong food matching ability in my book.
Amy: Where do you see the Melbourne food and drink scene in the next five years?
Alex: I would hope to think Melbourne would secure herself as one of the top food cities in the world… great chefs, great produce and amazing regional wines. Trends I think will be smaller venues opening up dedicating themselves to a much smaller spectrum of what is on offer but doing it brilliantly.
Amy: What is your go-to drink?
Alex: Negroni served straight up instead of on the rocks and a cold beer on the side.
Amy: What is your favourite cocktail on the list at Sake and why?
Utsukushi heru. It’s a twist on the French martini and perfect for summer quaffing. We use Tekkan shochu (Japanese spirit) made from sweet potato along with pomegranate and violet liqueurs and pineapple juice.
While I got to pick Alex’s brain, I also got to sample the food. Now, did I mention that the food is to die for?
While we had an array of dishes, which left us all feeling more than satisfied, there were four favourites that I would be sure to order again.
The first dish of the evening was Hiramasa kingfish with yuzu soy, jalapeno and coriander.
The kingfish was soft as butter and had the perfect amount of kick from the jalapenos. A light and delicate start to the meal.
From here we made swift moves to the grilled miso-marinated Patagonian toothfish in lettuce cups. This was the standout dish of the evening for me. Perfectly cooked toothfish was sweet and sublte in flavour from the miso and the lettuce added crunch. They were the perfect mouthful.
A more hearty dish, the shrimp tempura with creamy spicy sauce and yuzu dressed salad was very morish. Crisp fried shrimp were doused in a creamy Japanese mayonnaise sauce and served with salad which provided a nice fresh element.
Now, when it comes to desserts at Japanese restaurants, I’m not going to lie, I don’t usually want them or like them. But as I took the first bite of the buttermilk pannacotta with passionfruit coulis I was converted. The texture of the pannacotta was not what I expected. It was full and almost grainy, which sounds odd, but it was divine. It was perfectly sweet which was balanced by the passionfruit and the expertly matched yuzu sake which was served along side it. Yuzu sake, a Japanese version of limoncello ( if you ask me), is a little bit special.
If you like japanese food, cocktails, or bar snacks you need to get yourself down to Sake Restaurant and Bar.
Disclaimer: I dined as a guest of Hot House Media and Sake Restaurant and Bar
Ok…so Chocolate Buddha is not new at all. It isn’t even new to me. However, I had the best meal I have ever had there just last week.
A friend of mine is gluten free, so Chocolate Buddha is a great choice as they have a separate gluten free menu and gluten free soy sauce on each table. It makes eating gluten free fuss free, which is always nice.
As I lover of Japanese and sushi, I usually opt for the sushi option. On this particular occasion I really wasn’t in the mood for a sushi platter or raw fish at all to be honest. So I scouted the menu for a change.
My sister and I decided the share a serve of the Soft Shell Crab inside out sushi roll to start (8pcs for $17.50).
This is always delicious. The soft meat with a crisp exterior sits perfects inside the rice. Avocado and the homemade tartare sauce give it a creamy finish. A must order here in my opinion.
Moving onto main course…
My gluten free dining partner ordered the Sushi and Sashimi platter for one ($24.00). She said that it was delicious.
Having had this many a time, I think it can be hit and miss. It depends what they have available and fresh. While usually good, I was once served 6 pieces of salmon on the one platter. This time however my friend was happy.
My sister wanted the Shake Oyako Don, which was cured cold salmon over rice. Sadly they were out of the cured salmon, but served this main with teriyaki salmon from the entrée menu for her.
She absolutely loved her meal. The salmon went perfectly with the sushi rice and cold salad that accompanied the original dish.
Heading into new territory I ordered the Yakitori Skewers (19.80) for my main. This consisted of 3 free range chicken skewers, char grilled and glazed with teriyaki sauce served with spinach and cucumber salad over sushi rice, topped with sesame seeds and pickles.
The chicken was beautiful and moist. The glaze was flavoursome and delicious. They make excellent sushi rice here and it was the perfect accompaniment to the chicken. The cold salad kept the dish light. Both of the rice dishes also came with miso soup.
This was by far the best meal I have had at Chocolate Buddha , and that is not due to bad experiences! It was delicious. I am always keen to go back here. I have to say I think the prices are quite good for the quality and quantity of food here as well.
A huge fan of Japanese flavours I couldn’t go past a char grilled Japanese chicken recipe that I found a little while ago. However I think it took me about two years to get around to making it!!
When I did get around to making it I couldn’t help but change it around, adding my favorite vegetables etc. Yet it wasn’t until I decided to make it for my sister who doesn’t eat meat that I found the winner…
Japanese Marinated Char-Grilled Salmon on Soba Noodles
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1/4 cup mirin (Japanese rice wine vinegar)
- 1/4 cup salt-reduced soy sauce
- 2cm piece ginger, finely grated
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 (150g) salmon steaks with skin on
- 180g soba noodles
- 2 bunches of Broccolini, chopped
- 2 red capsicums, chopped
Combine the oil, mirin, soy, ginger and garlic in a bowl and breathe in the heavenly scents…THIS is where the recipe gets its magic!
Cover the salmon with one quarter of the sauce (not the whole thing like I did the first time) and put in the fridge for as long as you can be bothered leaving it there. The time it takes to prep everything else works perfectly fine.
Boil a pot of water on the stove and cook the soba noodles according to their packet instructions. This should be about 4 minutes. Then transfer them to cold water to stop them cooking. Soggy soba noodles are not ideal.
Meanwhile heat a wok or pan, which ever is easiest for you and cook the vegetables in a little oil to your liking. I always prefer mine on the crunchier side, but that’s just personal preference.
Now…to the headlining act of this dish, the salmon!
Heat a grill on high and place the sauce covered salmon skin side down and wait for the sizzle! Cook here until the salmon is nice and black and crisp…don’t worry it does look burnt. Its not I promise. Turn the salmon when it’s starting to turn light past the skin. Cook on the other side until pink all the way up the sides.
To serve the noodles, run some hot water over them to re heat them and divide them between four plates. Top with vegetables and watch them tumble down the noodle mountain. Then place the deliciously blackened salmon on top. The final touch is the left over sauce…drizzle over the salmon and noodles.
Serve and enjoy…I promise you will!
The salmon is so tender and soft on the inside while the black crisp outside really holds a lot of flavour and kick. Its sweet and salty and all things delicious! The noodles circled around crisp vegetables are simply the perfect backdrop and every now and then if your lucky you will get bursts of fresh ginger…
Don’t be surprised if you’re licking the plate…
The other night my boyfriend and I had tickets to the wonderful acapella group Naturally 7. With the show at 7 30, an early dinner was in order.
Having been to The Long Room once before in a large group, I thought it would be nice to go back for a quite dinner and a few drinks. With both a sushi menu and an extensive tapas menu, it caters to a wide audience.
At first when we arrived at what should be The Long Room, we were again met with an arcade type shopping center front. Remembering to press on, we ventured inside and made our way down the darkened stairs. As we enter we were welcomed into the dark and seductive world that is The Long Room. Huge leather couches, mood lighting and moose heads make you feel like you’re in a mansion from another century. The beautiful wait staff are more than welcoming and add to the time machine experience.
We ordered a bottle of the Moet & Chandon and settled in to our candle lit table.
I ordered the sushi platter for my meal.
There was a huge and varied range of nigiri on the platter and each piece was just as fresh as the next. Just like good sushi should be, it melted in your mouth.
My boyfriend, not as much of a fan of the sushi, ordered a couple of tapas items.He chose the crumbed calamari with aioli.
Then the chicken gyoza’s. The tapas serves were very generous and were presented beautifully in old school metal frying pans.
The Long Room caters for huge groups as well as intimate dinners and does so with style.
I am already looking forward to going back!
For more information:
The Long Room
162 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9663 7226
As Semester one starts, as do quick lunches and coffees on the go. With Lygon street a block away, Melbourne Uni goers are rarely struggling for choice when it comes to good quality food.
As a lover of Japanese food and especially Sushi I made sure to scope out the best sushi in the area three years ago when I started my under grad. Three years later Sushi Sai is still one of my regular lunch spots.
From the outside (and to be honest the inside), it appears to be nothing special. The dark run down corner building is likely to scare some people away, but once you order from the overly friendly staff, you will realise the food here is fantastic. The sushi is very fresh and if they don’t have exactly what you want they are always willing to make up something for you on the spot.
My personal favourite are the cooked tuna and avocado hand rolls, which have the perfect combination of tuna to mayonnaise to avocado ratio. For those of you who are gluten intolerant they are completely on top of this. They have gluten free soy sauce and are able to make the cooked dishes with gluten free sauces.
They also have noodle, rice and soup dishes on offer and from word of mouth I hear these are as good quality as the sushi.
So next time your around Carlton, don’t be fooled by the run down exterior of Sushi Sai…give it a go!
For more information:
832 Swanston Street Carlton VIC 3053
(03) 9348 1466