There is no better way to spend a gloriously sunny day in Sydney than on the Manly Wharf. And there’s no better way to enjoy the Manly Wharf, than at Saké Restaurant & Bar; by the water’s edge, enjoying sushi and saké in the blissful sunshine.
With its arrival last November, Saké put its signature super-fusion stamp on the famed seaside suburb, bringing a little Japanese culture to the Manly Wharf rooftop. And what a splash it made. The sixth member of the award-winning Saké family combines the mellow beach-side vibe of its locale and a premium design-led dining experience; birthing a sleek, 300-seat, Luchetti Krelle designed space with expansive views of the picturesque Manly Cove, which just nabbed a top accolade in the globally-recognised Restaurant & Bar Design Awards 2019 in London.
Conscious of its Japanese heritage, through sleek, sublime interiors, Saké Manly pays tribute to Japanese craftsmanship and the art of wabi-sabi – the ancient approach to appreciating and celebrating the imperfect. “This Saké manages to contain so much whilst touching only very lightly on consciousness,” explains designer, Rachel Luchetti. “The private dining spaces let the air circulate but not the sight-lines, the Sushi bar celebrates activity.” It’s true, the sprawling, light-filled space feels beautifully airy and infinitely open, with floor-to-ceiling, bi-fold windows and doors opening to a spectacular al fresco terrace that seats 50 and gives diners breathtaking oceans views to gulp in while enjoying casual izakaya-style fare.
Inside, the restaurant is divided into several defined spaces that each lend themselves to different occasions and events. There’s a light-flooded dining room with an abundance of window-side tables, an open kitchen featuring a robata grill and 40-seat sushi counter, a 60-seat bar and lounge area, and a series of sublime private dining rooms. At their entrance, a shimmering 2-tonne anthracite boulder guards the circular gateway of the private dining chambers, its combustible properties subtly referencing the menu’s robata grill offerings. This quartet of central chambers offers exclusive privacy, with each separated by woven fabric shõji screens that gracefully fill the circular window framework when in operation.
With impeccable attention to detail, its design speaks to both its Eastern and Western cuisine, deftly albeit subtly echoing its hybridised menu. “Suspended above the central chambers – and on feature walls – are tactile arrangements of magnolias, grasses and cotton stems by Loose Leave Design Studio, subtly introducing native Australian elements just as the menu blends Eastern delicacies and Western influences to bold effect,” adds Luchetti. This floral sculpture, in partnership Loose Leaf designs, is particularly striking; its bountiful, overarching floral arrangements utilising both native and foreign flora and magnolia branches which are suspended above tables.
Other elegantly engineered details include timber dowel sliding screens inspired by sushi rolling mats that can be fashioned to section each room from the surrounding restaurant, while within the main dining area, delicately crafted pendant lanterns float above polished concrete floors, balancing the precise geometries of square Oak tables and spindle dining chairs. A warm palette reveals customised circular tables with deep plum-stained ply bases together with bespoke dusty pink leather banquettes.
But perhaps above all else, the design offers a range of contexts for the diner; it is multi-faceted and multi-sensory. From open-plan tables encouraging lengthy sittings to sample the extensive menu to bar-side seating for patrons seeking izakaya-style nibbles and tipples; it offers multiple dining options for varied experiences.
A celebration of both traditional Japanese craftsmanship and its wondrous, distinctly Australian milieu, Saké Manly’s design is elegant, refined fusion without the fuss – much like its stellar cuisine.