As the weather warms up Sydneysiders are itching to dine by the water and Saké Restaurant & Bar in Manly holds the perfect position to do exactly that. Perched on the roof top of Manly Wharf the views across Manly cove to the ocean are spectacular, in fact everything about this venue is a visual masterpiece designed by the acclaimed Sydney firm Luchetti Krelle.
Saké Restaurant & Bar across all locations celebrate spring every year with the stunning cherry blossom as a symbol of the season, inspiring everything from exclusive events and limited edition cocktails to the breathtaking flower arrangements. We decided this was the perfect time to head to Manly as this would be Saké’s first spring at this new north-side location.
When we arrive we just have to try one of the four varieties of spring cocktails and wow – what a stunning presentation. The little geisha is right up our alley (being a gin based cocktail) with the addition of Luxardo Maraschino. It is extremely refreshing with all the right elements to evoke the essence of spring – sweet strawberry offset with a zesty touch of lime and cranberry.
Sipping on this blush coloured beauty we take in the incredible space. Seating 300 there’s plenty of indoor and outdoor dinning and at the heart you’ll find the most incredible private dining suites. The succession of four private rooms creates the most spectacular mirror illusion. Each room accommodates six guests and suspended above are botanical chandeliers of decorative magnolia, native grasses and cotton. There’s a feeling of earthiness but the subtle use of pink keeps it fresh and soft.
We immediately want to celebrate something that involves dining in one of these stunning rooms and our lovely host tempts us to return for the picnic lunches or exclusive spring dinners being held not just at Manly but across all six Saké restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Each venue will hold two dinners focussing on the cuisines of East and West Japan, respectively. All dinners will of course celebrate cherry blossom season and these exquisite events will be held in the private dining rooms.
Contemplating the very tempting offer we meander over to observe the theatrics of the open kitchen. Creating an atmosphere of drama you can witness the precision and detail involved in every dish, we love a little behind the scenes peak and this kitchen is one well oiled machine.
We also love the idea of sitting at the bar to study the cocktail mastery unfold. Whether you fancy a Japanese spirit, whisky, sake, shochu, umeshu or perhaps a Japanese beer, it’s all here. The list is never ending and there’s also an extensive Australian and international wine list on offer.
Our rumbling tummies urge us back to our cosy banquette to peruse the menu. Already fans of Saké Restaurant & Bar we are pleased to see signature dishes like the popcorn shrimp, steamed prawn dumpling and the charshu pork belly are on offer.
As Rockpool Dining Group Chief Executive Officer Thomas Pash told us, “We’ve brought locals their favourite Saké dishes to their doorstep and some exclusive dishes that Head Chef Shoji Toru and Consulting Chef Shaun Presland have collaborated on, so there is even more to explore.”
We intend to embark on that very notion so to start we try the artfully presented new style sashimi. Carefully arranged slithers of snapper, salmon and plump scallops are set before us, all glistening with a light ponzu sauce. Finished with a sprinkle of nori crisp it’s the satisfying crunch that makes all the difference and this is the dish we were still talking about on the drive home- it is a must try.
Next up is the white soy tuna, possibly the best grade tuna sashimi we’ve experienced in quite some time. Firm but silky smooth, the texture of the fish is so fine it almost melts in your mouth. In contrast to the light and fresh new style sashimi, the tuna dives a little deeper in flavour – the fine kombu flakes leaving an ever-so-slight smokey, salty finish. Bathed in an orange marmalade it’s a delicate balance of contrasting flavours.
The nasu dengsaku is something we are also intrigued to try. Sakés rendition of this iconic Japanese favourite delivers on all fronts. Chunks of creamy eggplant with a generous coating of tempura batter are piled high beside a miso sesame dipping sauce. Delightful!
We contemplate another cocktail from the spring menu. The Not an ordinary cherry is a bold style cocktail similar in intensity to a old fashioned or a negroni. It would be a great finisher but we are just getting started with a few courses still to come so decide a crisp Chardonnay is more complimentary. We are recommended the 2018 Blind Corner from the Margaret River for its minimal oak and softer style.
The king prawn with yuzu herb miso is yet another standout. Slightly smokey and fresh off the robust roberta grill, they are served in the half shell. The delicate prawn flavour isn’t overpowered by the smack of yuzu miso and leaves you wanting more.
Introducing the side of spicy brussel sprouts. How can something so simple be so wonderful? The sprouts are dressed in a kimuchi vinaigrette so it’s more sweet than spicy, but it’s so moorish – even if you think you don’t like sprouts you’ll love these.
We can’t help but notice excitement at a nearby table, guests gathering around with phones poised as they video the arrival of their dessert – Saké’s famous dragon egg. We look on enviously as the egg melts under the waiter’s steady pour. Before this moment the plan was to try the green tea kit kat for dessert but we immediately change our minds, clearly the desire for green tea ice cream was squandered by our more powerful green eyed envy.
Soon it arrives to our table in all its glory, mist floating beneath a perfectly formed white chocolate egg. Inside reveals a melody of crunchy almonds, passionfruit cream and miso caramel. What a way to finish a sensational experience, we leave booking the very same table in a few weeks time. With one last look at the glorious ocean we pass the private dining rooms and wonder which spring dinner to book? East or West? Maybe both, it seems only fair and we don’t want to play favourites.
Spring calls for linen or light cotton pieces that float and drape organically to your frame. There’s a juxtaposition of refinement meets raw, running through the interiors at Saké Manly so we drew on the the organic, botanical aesthetic for our inspiration.
Think layers, slightly oversized pieces mades from natural materials. The ocean and the relaxed beachside lifestyle in Manly means you can be low key, swapping sky high heels for slides or mules. We are loving the latest drops at MACKENZIEMODE, Country Road and Assembly Label also, new on our radar is Splice Boutique. Check out our edit and get shopping ladies
I’m a little obsessed with linen right now. Unstructured, oversized and relaxed is thew way I’m rolling out of Sydney’s winter and into spring. The blazer is Assembly Label, probably my favourite label the moment and I love that the entire range is #wardrobebasics so you can create a staple wardrobe and wear the timeless shapes for years to come.
This Country Rd jumpsuit is 100% French linen, I cinched it in with a military style belt but it also looks fab relaxed and unbelted. Did I mention I love linen?
These shoes are a bit of a dupe of the Hermes slides (don’t hate me) I truly live in them… So comfy and well made, they have actually been through a lot and still look great! I want them in white and black but haven’t made the purchases yet. My bag is from Bali so tried to find something as close to this one! x
SHOP THE LOOK
LINEN BLAZER Assembly Label
FRENCH LINEN JUMPSUIT Country Road
LOUPE SANDALS Dune
NATURAL WEAVE BASKET BAG Similar