When I first received an invitation to dine at Sakari and said the words “Japanese buffet” out loud, I saw my partner Jeremy’s eyes light up like I’d just told him he’d won the lottery. While we both absolutely love Japanese food, I have to say he’s also a big fan of buffet dining whereas I’m not as excited. I tend to find buffets a bit of a spray effect where they do a whole lot of things adequately instead of a few things good.
But I put my reservations aside and accepted the kind offer to dine there by owner and chef Ernest Chu. And since Jeremy was even more excited than me, I brought him along for the ride (and the food).
The venue is across the road from Lucky Chans, above a gaming store. You take a narrow elevator upstairs and suddenly you feel like you’re overseas on holiday. I don’t know how, but stepping in to this restaurant we were immediately reminded of venues in Taiwan with similar layouts and access. I love nostalgic trigger points like that!
On Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights Sakari has the buffet ‘all you can eat’ option. It’s $32.90 for adults and $15.90 for children, which you’ll find is much cheaper than other buffets in Perth. There’s a decent selection of items to choose from – but best of all, most items are not actually in a buffet line, you order them ala carte instead (but you can have as many as you like at no extra cost so it’s more of an all you can eat type situation!).
We arrived and took a seat by the window, admiring the lights of the William Street strip. Immediately a welcome plate of cooked oysters with onion, carrot, cheese and salmon roe was placed before us to get our appetites ready to go.
I usually prefer my oysters natural but having this hot creamy bite to start while we perused the menu was delicious! The flavour combination was lovely and there was a slight smokiness from the melt.
The menu is simple and broken into sections including starters, tempura, teppanyaki, curry, noodles, hot pot, sashimi, nigiri, aburi and dessert. The ordering process is simple enough (especially if you’ve been to Din Tai Fung overseas which has a similar set up) where you mark down the quantity of each item you want to order next to the name. Then you flag a waitress and they’ll take the order straight to the kitchen to get started.
The only thing we really found confusing in this was knowing the size of each item. After a few courses we started to work out that most came as a solo item (e.g. one slice of sashimi etc) which makes for a much easier and efficient way of trying as much as you can without wastage.
The prawn ball skewer and Japanese pancake were the first items to come out, both piping hot and smelling great. Some fried goods can definitely kickstart your appetite! My favourite of the two was the pancake which was crisp on the outside and soft in the centre, the taste enhanced by the generous squeeze of mayonnaise and barbecue sauce over the top.
Of all dishes we tried, my heart definitely fell for the aburi options. Aburi nigiri sushi is finger pressed rice blocks, topped with items like salmon, tuna, barramundi or prawn and then torched to bring a slight smokiness and release some of the fish’s fattiness.
The salmon was the winner in both of our eyes. So much so that I actually ordered another plate full of just the salmon aburi to gulp down on my own after! It was really soft and unctuous, and just elevated the fish’s natural flavour while highlighting it’s freshness. So delicious!
The tempura we choose to order was the prawn and the vegetable, which on that particular night was a sweet slice of pumpkin. I love a great tempura – that ethereally light batter that is crisp and doesn’t retain its oil.
The prawn was the preferred over the two (just), with the seafood well cooked and retaining snap to each bite. Ernest told us they’d just received their fish order that morning so you could really tell we were eating fresh produce. The on point seasoning was also another highlight to enjoy.
After munching on these we tried some of the items on the buffet line, including seaweed salad, garden salad and sushi. I think it’s great you have the option of both cold and hot, and while the hot items are being cooked up you can raid the cold for immediate satisfaction.
After eating way too many salmon aburi nigiri sushi blocks we only really had room for one last dish. Since we both absolutely love soba noodles, it seemed only fitting that this would be our choice. These were so warming and tasty – soba is perfect with a lovely broth and crunchy spring onions. Just the thing to finish our meal at Sakari!
The overall experience at Sakari was really positive, and one that left me quite impressed by the value for money. For those who love Japanese food and know that the bill can spiral out of control pretty quickly, you will really appreciate the great pricing structure of this venue. Enjoy the view, the food, and the great options.