I am the king at dragging out my birthday across an unreasonable length of time. This year, I started celebrating last Friday, which was actually 5 days premature. Anyway, I had somehow got it into my head that if I wanted to be healthy, any Japanese food would be perfectly acceptable. I can now see how that logic is flawed but at the time, it seemed to promise guilt-free eating.
Mochi told me about Sake a while back and another friend told me they were invited to the launch party. This is the equivalent of a major hype up in my mind so I knew I HAD to go. The moment I decided to have dinner in Brisbane on Friday, I made the booking.
It was a fairly late dinner for me (says someone who normally whips something up the minute they get home at 5pm) because I had to drive there from Toowoomba. We booked a 9pm meal and decided not to muck around trying to find a park. For your information, parking at Eagle Street Pier is a flat rate of $10 at night or on weekends.
We were THIS CLOSE to GPSing the exact whereabouts of the restaurant (just knowing it's in Eagle Street Pier is not helpful when you realize it's quite a long stretch of restaurants) when I spotted a Sake sign. I can't remember exactly how we got there but if it helps, it's at the top of a set of stairs.
After being told that our table was just getting prepared, we were invited to sit at the bar, which was fine by me because I had heard AMAZING things about their cocktails.
The bar is VERY CUTE. It's on a large veranda and contains many little wooden tables with little wooden stools. I ordered a Pink Blossom and Hien got a classic Mojito.
Pink Blossom cocktail and Mojito
The Pink Blossom cocktail was ecstasy. I have never in my life tasted a beverage, alcoholic or otherwise, this delicious. Mochi told me Sake made the best cocktails EVER and even with those high expectations, I was still blown away. I thought the Mojito was fabulous too, albeit more familiar flavors.
When we were lead to our table, we were told that the little paper pamphlet on the table was actually the menu. The waitress kindly advised that since it was our first time, she would be able to recommend dishes based on what type of food we liked. That sounded like a great idea to me so we started spilling out key phrases like 'spicy food', 'something creamy' and 'I want raw fish' for her to work with. She explained what she had in mind and it sounded good to us so we gave the go-ahead.
Sashimi combo - classic style sashimi with soy & wasabi
The first to arrive was the sashimi platter. It looked like a work of art on its bed of ice. Almost too good to eat. We started working our way around the different fish. My favorites were the salmon and kingfish. Everything was just flawlessly fresh. A lovely way to start our meal.
Bang on! - Iichiko Shochu mixed with ripe watermelon, vanilla sugar & our own house-made rhubarb syrup
At this point, our alcohol reservoirs had cleared up so we ordered our next drinks. I chose the 'Bang on!' which is described as Sake's 'it' drink. It was predominantly watermelon juice with a tanginess and alcoholic aftertaste. Also very good and extremely refreshing but it didn't beat Pink Blossom for me.
Hien ordered a Manhattan, which I was too scared to try because he normally orders really awful man-drinks that I regret tasting. I was amused because he put on his 'I know all about spirits' face and guessed what was in it but when we Googled the components, he got most of it wrong. Hehe.
Steamed prawn dumplings - 6 pieces of Chinese-inspired shumai with spicy ponzu
Next in our food experience was the prawn dumplings. I admit that when our waitress recommended prawn dumplings, I said 'yup OK!' but was really thinking 'how boring...'
As soon as they were presented to us, I ate my words. They looked nothing like any prawn dumpling I've had before. Indeed the wrapper is not just a wrapper but more very frilly and crinkling. It was perfect for dipping because the crinkles really picked up the flavor. These were creative, unique and delicious.
Kushiyaki - grilled pork belly skewers with spicy anticucho sauce
The pork skewers followed. They were covered in a spicy sauce (recommended to us because I mentioned I like spicy food). The pork was so tender and had a distinct charcoal flavor. I loved the sauce too. This puts me to mind of fancy street food.
Scampi tempura - crunchy tempura scampi tails with sweet ponzu, coriander and jalapeno slices
We finally got to our main course, which I had been looking forward to: tempura scampi. Hien was very negative about this because he reckons he's had bad experience with scampi. I just liked the idea of tempura that wasn't vegetable or frozen prawns. It surprised me by being very light in appearance. Almost like plated clouds. Fried clouds :D. The tempura scampi was delicious. A perfectly crisp and light batter and tender/fresh inside. We were worried that the ones on the bottom would be soggy and gross from being soaked in the ponzu sauce but they were actually very tasty. A+ to this dish.
Dessert special of the day - green tea cheesecake
Our waitress wanted to know if we were full. Hells yeah but as if I'd go past dessert. After arguing about which to get, Hien and I went for the most diplomatic option of getting 2. I was going to get the chocolate fondue before our waitress informed us of the specials. I then went with the green tea cheesecake special of the day and Hien chose the frozen yuzu souffle.
Center of cheesecake
The green tea cheesecake was nice but not much different to flavored cheesecake that you get from Asian bakeries. Pretty good but disappointing when compared to the caliber of our other dishes.
Frozen yuzu souffle - yuzu citrus-infused souffle with miso ginger caramel sauce
Hien's yuzu souffle was... very unusual to say the least. It put me to mind of something savory and... fishy? I thought of dried squid. If that sounds unappealing in a dessert, well I'm afraid this dessert wasn't exactly my cup of tea. I even Google'd 'yuzu' to see if it meant 'dried squid' (I kid you not) but found that it meant Japanese citrus. Hahah.
We LOVED Sake. Mochi wanted feedback on it when I got home because she's been to the one in Sydney. I said it was fabulous but couldn't put my finger on why. Was it the food? The food was great but I wouldn't say it blew my socks off. The Pink Blossom cocktail did but that's just one drink. No, I have to say that Sake was great for me because of the overall experience. Great food, ace service (we loved our waitress - she did a fantastic job), lovely environment (thank goodness for a restaurant that provides bright lighting for my blog photos) and a hot location. This is what my idea of a perfect dinner out should be: a perfect whole experience.