1/50 Subiaco Square, Subiaco
Phone: (08) 9381 9868
Cherry Blossom Moon
Perched on a corner of Subiaco Square, between the train station and markets is a new Japanese restaurant full of surprises. Satsuki, meaning cherry blossom moon is a fitting name for a restaurant focused on balance and beauty.
Open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday, Satsuki has seating both inside and out. Heating in winter keeps patrons warm in their private courtyard while in summer it is the ideal place to catch a breeze.
Owned and operated by Yutaka Yamauchi (also of Ha-Lu Mt Hawthorn ), Satsuki is all about showcasing the chefs’ artistry.
For example instead of having a tray of extra condiments on the table, head chef George Yamahara adds the seasoning as they are preparing the food, carefully judging how much of each is needed to add spark, without overpowering the other flavours – it’s about each chef’s individual style.
The Sushi Satsuki is good example of the chef-led focus. It comes to the table as seven pieces arranged left to right, in the order they should be eaten. As you progress from piece to piece the complexity of the flavours builds and then softens to sweetness.
While this degustation of seven pieces is a great main course in itself, Yutaka said many customers chose to share the meal, allowing them plenty of room for the other dishes.
The menu includes a wide range of dishes including salads, beef, pork, seafood, vegetarian and vegan options. It also caters for the less adventurous souls with dishes including Chicken Kara-age (Japanese fried chicken), while the daring can try Salmon Caviar Ocha-Zuke – bright orange Atlantic salmon roe served on a bed of rice.
According to Yutaka, the most unusual dishes Satsuki serves up are traditional home-style Japanese meals not often seen on western menus. The Succulent Mackerel simmered in sweet miso is one such dish. He describes it as comfort food, the sort of thing a businessman forced to spend time away from home might order in Tokyo to remind him of the warmth of family life.
Stripped of those familiar associations the dish is still amazing, unlike anything my colleague or I had tasted in a Japanese restaurant before (and we’ve eaten in a few). The fish was tender and tasty, but not too ‘fishy’, the miso marinate was gentle but complex. You could imagine small children loving it, although it’s also interesting enough to captivate a more mature palette.
If you’re interested in stretching your multicultural gastronomy a little further you can also use your visit to Satsuki as an opportunity to learn more about good quality Sake (as opposed to the head-ache brew you may have sworn off years ago).
Sake is a wine-like drink made from rice. While different grape varieties give wines their distinctive flavours, what makes sakes distinctive is the amount of polishing the rice has been through. We started with a Tengumai-style sake made of 40% polished grain. Nice either warm or cold this is a nice crisp simple sake, that complimented the tuna and white fish sushi well.
Next we tried a Hakkaisan sake made from 50% polished grain. It was sweeter and fruitier and played well with the sweeter end of the sushi. Yutaka explained that it was best served cold as heating destroyed the fruity flavours.
Next we moved onto a traditional cloudy white home-style sake called Snow Beauty that was soft and sweet and went beautifully with the mackerel.
Our final sample was the Hana Kohaku, the sake equivalent of a desert wine. Still crisp, it was sweetened with a touch of plum wine that rounded it out. It provided a great counterpoint to the delicious hint of bitterness in the green tea icecream – a flavour burst that ended our meal perfectly.