Whether you’re the type of person who Google-searches a menu before dining, or prefers to fly by the seat of your pants, perfecting the art of ordering food and drink is one thing we are huge proponents of. At Rockpool-own Japanese chain Saké, you’d be hard-pressed to come face to fork with a poor culinary choice, but there is certainly merit in knowing your way around the saké-and-sashimi-packed menu.

To help make your visit an impeccably well-researched one, head chef Shimpei Hatanaka ran through all that’s on offer, and broke it down into four categories: Gluten-free, those new to saké liquor, dining in a group (hello, long lunch), or those in the mood for food that falls outside their normal repertoire. Read on for his menu suggestions, and add to bookmarks for easy reference. The fresh, zingy flavours of kingfish and ponzu await…

Gluten Free

What to order: “Many of our dishes menu can be modified to be gluten free, but my top picks are:

  • Hiramasa kingfish coriander infused ponzu. It’s a Saké signature dish. All head chefs visit the Hiramasa kingfish farm in Port Lincoln where we source our incredible produce.
  • Miso-glazed glacier 51 toothfish is the best to cook with. The flavour, fat content and texture are unbeatable. We marinate it in saikyo miso before grilling to bring out the best flavour. Everyone loves it.
  • Nasu dengaku is very popular amongst vegetarians and those that are gluten intolerant. Together, the flavour of dengaku miso combined with eggplant is amazing.

Unfortunately, the tempura and dumplings cannot be served gluten free, but we do use gluten free soy in many of our sauces. Each Saké venue has a different menu with a variety of options on offer, but the above is a great place to start.”

What to drink: “You can’t go wrong with a signature cocktail. Pink Blossom is perfect is you favour something sweet, but my personal pick is the Hattori Hanzo. It’s got a shiso salt kick that pairs perfectly with with the jalapeno and citrus flavours.”

New to Saké 

What to order: “If you’ve never tried the Japanese liquor before, ease into it with a mix so you can sample all that’s on offer, and figure out what your tastes are. Do the same with food and you’re set.

  • The Take No Hana set menu features a mix of signature dishes and popular options. Hiramasa kingfish, nori crisp, beef tataki, popcorn shrimp, miso glazed salmon, and short rib are all included. It’s great as you’ll have the chance to enjoy raw, grilled, and fried food – plus it suits all palates.”

What to drink: “Try our saké flight so that you can compare the difference between different sake’s. Daiginjo and junmai daiginjo also have a smoother taste, so great for first-time drinkers. Kozaemon bizen omachi is a good recommendation for those who want to explore hot saké . It has a poached pear-type flavour – really great on a cold night.”

Dining with friends

What to order: “Most of our dishes are designed to share so it’s good to have some cold and hot starters. My favourites are:

  • The Hiramasa kingfish for its clean and delicate flavour. I recommend it to start.
  • The prawn shumai is also light and delicious. Shumai has been on the menu since opening and is still one of our most popular dishes – we’re constantly asked for the recipe.
  • The spicy tuna roll is my go-to sushi roll. The flavours blend well with the sweet vinegar pickled daikon radish and shiso. The crunch outside gives it a nice texture, too.

What to drink: “When dining with friends, go for cocktails, beer, and a nice mix of wine and/or saké. That’s the beauty of big groups – you can order more than you normally would.

  • I think beer to start is a great idea. Sapporo on tap and hitachino white ale are perfect.
  • If you want to share some saké, amabuki jumai daiginjo is delicate and light-bodied, so pairs well with sashimi and tempura starters.
  • If it’s cold, I would recommend hot saké too towards the end of the meal. Umeshu and yuzu saké are great with dessert.
  • Ron zacapa is my favourite rum, and it’s the perfect nightcap to have before you wrap up your night. Among friends, it’s even better.

The Adventurous Type

What to order: “While Saké restaurants are well-suited for everyone, definitely go for sashimi if you’re feeling like a real culinary experience.

  • Catch of the day is a great option. It might be garfish, alfonsino, toro, or mackerel depending on the season.
  • Nigiri and sashimi plates are always a brilliant idea. Be sure to order southern Bluefin tuna belly when it’s in season too.
  • We often host events and dinners too, which are a really great opportunity to try off-menu dishes and seasonal produce.
  • For dessert, the dragon’s egg is theatrical and delicious – perfect for ending the meal on a high note.”

What to drink: “Try our range of saké. Compare the difference in taste between junmai daiginjo, junmai and junmai ginjo. It’s the best way to find out what type of saké suits you.”