No one loves spring more than I do. Not only is it my birthday season (happy birthday to me), but it’s the time of year where the weather finally starts warming up and the flowers are in bloom. In Australia, the wattle flowers signify the change of season. Over in Japan, spring is the season to be jolly amongst the cherry blossoms.

The Japanese tradition of celebrating the cherry blossom is being embraced by Saké Restaurant & Bar in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. From the 1st until the 30th of September, the Spring into Saké festival will offer seasonal menu changes, a Sakura Harajuku Night and an intimate eight course Cherry Blossom Dinner presented by Executive Chef Shaun Presland.

I was lucky enough to attend a preview of the Cherry Blossom Dinner last week. Each course focused on fresh spring produce, and was matched with sake and shochu. It was clear that the dinner was prepared with a lot of care, thought and precision to create a light, healthy and delicious meal.

kimono doll cocktail
Kimono Doll Cocktail – iichiko shochu, cherries and coco

sea urchin shooter
Canapé – ika / uni (cuttlefish and urchin) dashi jelly shooter

sea urchin shooter
Sakura Blini

How novel doing a shot of food! I have to say that even though Shaun told us not to be afraid to knock it back, for me, it was a little too much for one gulp. But I was more than happy to nibble at it slowly and appreciate the texture and flavour each element had to offer (and then knock back the rest of it).

smoked ocean trout and scallop

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Sunomono – ocean trout and scallop tartar with truffle ponzu and caviar.

For me, this was the dish of the day. I think anything containing truffle is on the fast track to becoming a favourite. The soft texture of the trout and scallop combined with the popping sensations you get from the caviar makes it that much more enjoyable to eat too.
kingfish sashimi
kingfish sashimi
Sashimi – lemon and fennel kingfish sashimi.
Yamadanishiki

The best part of this third course was the subtlety of flavours that enhance rather than take away from the kingfish. The acidity from the lemon was also really refreshing.
waygu beef
waygu beef
Yakimono – miso zuke wagyu steak, asparagus mushroom tossed butter soy, cauliflower purée.
Yamahai 3yr

Next to arrive on the table was the wagyu beef. It was more delicate and refined than what you would expect from a meat dish which is what I love about Japanese cuisine, and is necessary in an eight course meal! A few bite sized pieces was just enough to warm me up after the cold dishes, but if we weren’t only halfway through the meal I would have been more than happy for more!
steamed ocean trout
Mushimono – steamed ocean trout stuffed with kenchin tofu, spring vegetables, spinach chips and rich soy.
Amabuki Daiginjo

Back to seafood with the steamed trout. The soy was so rich in flavour but not at all overpowering. And I don’t know if it’s just me, but I am so impressed by spinach chips.
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Mushimono – steamed ocean trout stuffed with kenchin tofu, spring vegetables, spinach chips and rich soy.
Amabuki Daiginjo

This is the definition of comfort food. The katafi pastry packs a serious crunch and anything you can dip into sauce is okay with me.
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Gohanmono – chirashi sushi rice bowl, golden egg, salmon roe, spring floss and pickled vegetables, accompanied with a clear umami rich cleansing soup.
Genmai Cha

Chirashi basically means “scattered”. This scattered sushi bowl was really simple but tasty and the perfect way to finish up before dessert. The pickled vegetable in the soup looked beautiful, it reminded us all of a jellyfish floating in the water.

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Dessert – ume shu infused pressed melon and pineapple , sakura and strawberry cheesecake, cherry blossom ice cream.

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Shochu grapefruit spritz & yuzu saké.

What is an eight course meal without a dessert right? The cheesecake was rich and creamy, and the spritz, in my opinion, is the ideal spring/summer cocktail. A jug of that shared between friends on a hot day would go down a treat.

I love my Japanese food and this was no exception. There was a lot of food but it was so light and refreshing that you can leave satisfied and guilt-free. Each dish was incredible and I can’t wait to go back to Saké. Again, and again, and again!

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Cherry Blossom Spring Offers:
$88 Shaun Presland’s Signature Spring Menu including beverage
$38 Chef’s Spring Lunch Menu
$10 Dessert – Strawberry Sakura Tart / Sakura Montblanc / Sakura Eton Mess
Special Sakura inspired cocktail called the Kimono Doll Cocktail $17 – A Refreshing blend of iichiko shochu, cherries and coco served long.
Sake flight $15 – Served on special placemats which explain the sake origin and suggested food matches.

Sakura Harajuku Night
Experience a snippet of neo-Tokyo, with Saké’s cherry blossom themed Harajuku pop up bar.  Enjoy a fun night of sakura-inspired exclusive cocktails, izakaya style food and a live DJ all night.
Date:  Friday 12 September
Where:  Saké Restaurant & Bar Sydney

Cherry Blossom Dinner – Presented by Executive Chef Shaun Presland
Experience a cherry blossom inspired 8-course progressive dinner created and presented by Executive Chef Shaun Presland.  The menu will focus on spring produce – light, healthy and clean – and will be matched with sake, shochu and tea.  Limited to 24 pax only.
Date:  Wednesday 4 and 24 September
Time:  6pm for a 6.30pm start
Where:  Saké Restaurant & Bar Sydney
Cost:  8 courses for $120pp

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Sake Restaurant & Bar

12 Argyle Street, The Rocks Sydney NSW
Saké Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Level 1, 45 Eagle Street, Eagle Street Pier Brisbane QLD
Saké Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
Sake Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon