23° & SUNNY ON FRIDAY 28 APRIL IN BRISBANE
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Dining at Saké is all about choice. Where to sit? How to order? What to eat? What to drink? Choice is usually a good a thing, it means you don’t have to settle.

Spring has sprung like nowhere else at Saké Restaurant & Bar in Eagle St Pier. To celebrate the centuries-old Japanese tradition they've kicked the season off with their month-long Cherry Blossom Festival featuring a special spring-inspired banquet menu, cherry blossom-themed drinks, an exclusively brewed traditional sake and real cherry blossom branches flown in from New Zealand, and replaced every single week.

Dining at Saké is all about choice. Where to sit? How to order? What to eat? What to drink? Choice is usually a good a thing, it means you don't have to settle. If you're not a fan of zashiki seating (traditional, on the floor), ask to be seated at a communal table, the sushi counter, kick back in the bar area or book out a private dining room with friends. The next question is easy to answer, if you can't speak Japanese - order in English. Duh.

But here comes trouble, Saké's contemporary Japanese menu is extensive. It's guaranteed you'll be playing einee meenie minee mo to decide. But this is where the Cherry Blossom menu actually comes in handy. Executive Chef Shaun Presland and Brisbane Head Chef Shinichi Maeda have collaborated to create a rather indulgent eight-course dining experience to help you make the most of spring.

Priced at $88, that might seem steep but once the dishes (or works of art) start flowing from the kitchen you'll realise you got some serious bang-for-your-buck. First up is the tender sunomono snow king crab on a fresh tomato consume & bonito jelly, served in a martini glass. Consider the appetite whetted. Next comes a changing sashimi selection, followed by the aji fry yellowtail mackerel and eggplant, crumbed on a stick with the most delicious creamy prawn sauce.

Variety is key and the wagyu and ginger steamed dumpling doesn't disappoint, nor does the yose tofu with cherry blossom salt - a premium organic un-pressed tofu, meaning it has a soft yogurt-like texture. Wait a second, don't be too distracted not to order drinks. A glass of sake ($9.5) is an easy answer, and Sake have had a special junmai type specially brewed for the spring celebration.

Unusual for Japan, Shinichi is from the north region where there is space to tend sheep. This inspired the filling serve of slow braised lamb neck with apple and soy jus. Feeling full yet? Moving on, we receive the traditional japanese oshi-sushi with snapper, salmon and Kinome herbs. And things end on a sweet note with a soft strawberry roll cake - a fluffy sponge centred with sour cream, strawberries, and strawberry and macha dust. We suggest you finish things off with the cherry elixir ($18), a delicious cocktail of gin, sakura (cherry blossom) liquor, honey and ginger syrup, and lemon. Mmm spring never tasted so good.

Published on September 11, 2013 by Daniela Sunde-Brown

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