When the waiter asks what we’d like, the response is unanimous: “The ‘Give It To Me’ menu, please. And three Asahi Blacks.”
We were always gonna try a bit of everything at Sash, Windsor’s new Japanese fusion restaurant and cocktail bar. It’s not the sort of menu where you order a pizza and call it a night. Mostly because the pizzas here were designed by head chef Ken Tut from Ichi Ni and Ichi Ni Nana, and come topped with stuff like seared Ahi tuna, strawberries and pickled ginger. With creations like that one the cards, you want to sample as many dishes as humanly possible.
Sushi pizzas are at the core of Sash’s philosophy. It’s a New York fusion that Tut was longing to trial in Melbourne, and the early signs are positive. The place is packed out on a Friday night, with a queue of hungry diners milling around the door. You’ll find Sash up the Windsor end of Chapel St, fast becoming the city’s testing ground for new openings and concept restaurants. The fit-out was curated by Black Milk Designs, who shipped in 3.5 tonnes of rock, 1km of polished timber and black steel to style the moody-mod decor. And it certainly looks good after dark.
Up at the neon bar we can see bartender Kyle Rose from Chin Chin and GoGo Bar, slinging Harajuku cocktails, 20 craft beers and a well-stocked list of traditional Japanese sakes. The cocktail temptation proves too strong, and we order a few for the table. The Japanese Spritz goes down a treat—a fizzy mix of sake, yuzu, Aperol and sparkling rose. But the real hero is the White Mountain: a sweet sake blend of peach liquer and lime that you could keep sipping all day.
The food starts arriving plate by plate. Tataki Wagyu, wafer thin and melt-on-you-tongue. Little cubes of meaty kingfish ceviche. Grilled Asian greens, doused in sweet yuzu. Three dishes cause everyone’s eyes to roll back in happiness and emit unconscious groans of pleasure that alarm nearby diners.
The first is Sash’s chilli mayo prawn sliders (crisp-fried prawns in a tangy mayo, sandwiched inside a squid-ink slider. Dangerously addictive). The second is the absolutely crazy spicy tuna tacos, wrapped in shatter-crisp gyoza skins and topped with avocado, alfalfa, Sriracha mayo and wasabi tapioca pearls. Lastly, the hoisin duck with orange ginger. Meaty, crispy, sweet and salty. We could have eaten approximately 470.
The pizzas start arriving next, and they truly are beautiful to look at. Whatever your reservations about sushi pizza, we urge you to give these a try. The bases are thicker than your standard Neapolitan style, died squid-ink black with an excellent crust. And the toppings...well. Balsamic grilled eggplant with walnuts, caramelised onions and pickled ginger. Delicate sashimi with blue cheese and sirachi. Seared hunks of salmon topped with sweet sesame mustard and cantelope. It’s zany, screwy, mad genius stuff, but Tut somehow pulls it off.
If you get the chance, make sure you grab one of the bench tables up the back of the space. These overlook the tap room, stocked with beer, wine, cocktails and sake tubes that lead directly to the bar taps. A nice touch of dinner theatre there.
As you leave Sash you’ll spot a big neon sign behind the bar, blasting out the message “Hangovers are temporary … Stories last forever.” After multiple Asahi Blacks and waaay too many Harajuku cocktails, we’re gonna put that mantra to the test.
Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White