The bar has been raised quite literally at Sydney’s Manly Wharf. Already a dining magnet with its cluster of restaurants presenting impressive waterfront views across the harbour, it now offers a refined al fresco option with Saké Restaurant and Bar crowning its rooftop.
The sixth iteration of the fusion Japanese restaurant brand from Rockpool Group, this outpost is distinguished by a reflective sense of harmony and an intertwining of nature, artistry, balance and flow.’It takes inspiration from Japanese craftsmanship and the art of wabi-sabi – the ancient approach to appreciating and celebrating the imperfect,’ notes Rachel Luchetti, the director at Sydney-based Luchetti Krelle, the firm behind the design.
A quartet of private dining chambers run through Saké’s central axis, surrounded by formal dining areas, an open kitchen and bar, and a 40-seat sushi counter. A shimmering two-tonne anthracite boulder guards their circular gateway, it’s combustible properties subtly referencing the menu’s robata grill offerings. A live edge Blackbutt timber service counter hovers above it, further celebrating nature’s raw beauty.
Directly behind, a cantilevered timber table straddles the adjoining private dining rooms, each ably separated by woven fabric screens (shoji) that gracefully fill the circular window framework when in operation. 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. Suspended above (and on feature walls) are tactile arrangements of magnolias, grasses and cotton stems by Loose Leave Design Studio, taking their cue from the ancient ikebana practice whilst subtly introducing native Australian elements.
Within the main light-filled dining area, delicately crafted Illuminate pendant lanterns float above polished concrete floors, balancing the precise geometries of square Oak tables and Andreu World dining chairs with their spindle and solid board backrests with minimal fuss. Customised circular tables with deep plum-stained ply bases together with dusty pink leather banquettes gently introduce tonal warmth amongst the furnishings whilst judiciously referencing the magnolias.
Diners can take their pick of bite-sized sashimi cones and casual izakaya-style nibbles through to robust robata renditions of shiokouji lamb chops and Saké’s take on Japan’s traditional hamburger steak served on a sizzling hotplate. Desserts including Coco Loco – coconut ice cream with yuzu granita, caramelised popcorn and fresh berries, and chocolate tart with decadent deep-fried milk balls continue to blend East and West to bold effect.