Sake Corner #1

As promised, we’ve checked out the new kids on the block in the world of Sake and Izakaya style eating in Melbourne.

Kumo Izakaya & Sake Bar
152 Lygon St, Brunswick

Tuesday night, almost full and abuzz with trendy folk; plenty of staff, but hard to attract our waiter throughout the night. We decided to try traditional Izakaya dishes like Yakitori, Tempura, Sashimi, as well as some of the more creative dishes like the more-ish house tofu with chilli sesame oil, textural tuna and onsen poached quail egg in crunchy cup. How was it? While a step up in sophistication from regular offerings, it doesn’t hit the mark in portion sizes, pricing and appeal.

The fit out slots brilliantly into the previous incarnation as a bank, and I love that there is a bar counter to sit at and chat with the bartenders -even if Australians aren’t used to that! And because I know you want to know – the sake list is comprehensive! The flavour profiles are graphically presented to ‘see’ if any one Sake is dry, sweet, full bodied and so on. Sake Guru Todd Eng (USA) is on hand to offer advice to the uninitiated and his recommendation was a hit at our budget of $80 per bottle (there aren’t many other choices at that price).

Overall Kumo is a great place for a night out, however your idea of value for money may be challenged by the bill.

 Little Red Pocket
422 Little Collins St, Melbourne

As soon as I saw the shiny, impersonal, marketing collateral for Little Red Pocket, I had a hunch that this bar might just reflect that. The décor is more Chinese than Japanese. It’s actually cold and feels like something is nantonaku (Jap – not sure what) amiss.

The glossy flyers don’t translate to the amenities and it’s probably best not to venture there at all. The Sake list is pretty basic but offers a selection in 60ml servings so you can sample a range of styles. I can’t recommend the food, it’s obviously just to fill the gaps of a drinking crowd. A positive bar manager assisted in sake selection, but insisted on what I needed rather than listening to what I wanted.

Overall, Little Red Pocket with its iPad ordering system and fancy cocktails is positioned to a younger clientele but really, it’s all icing and no cake.