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For the sake of Sake -- Bistro, that is

Steaks, seafood and sushi with world class chefs

Posted: May 11, 2012 6:00 a.m.
Updated: May 11, 2012 6:00 a.m.

Left to right, Jae Seo, Executive Chef Robert Lia and Sake owner Mark Oliver in front of a piece of custom art at Sake Bistro.

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"We have some extraordinary talent in the kitchen," said Mark Oliver, owner of Sake Bistro & Sushi in Valencia.
That's hardly hyperbole, it's more like an understatement.
Executive Chef Robert Lia was executive chef of Geoffrey's Malibu for four years and at Cicada Restaurant in downtown Los Angeles for three years.

"At Cicada they earned their Michelin star when he was the chef there," said Oliver.

Lia has also worked in Japan, Italy, France and other locations around the world.

"Robert refuses to use anything pre-made, so we make our own ketchup and sauces. He also creates his own chocolates and caramels," said Oliver.

Lia believes in "creativity and peacefulness in the kitchen."

He looks to chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Ferran Adria for inspiration.

"I believe in that John George philosophy of simple to spectacular," Lia said. "I love what I do."

Richard Tjandra, Sake's Master Sushi Chef, came to the restaurant from Philadelphia.

"He was Morimoto's head chef at Morimoto's in Philadelphia," said Oliver.

Foodies know Chef Masaharu Morimoto as one of Food Network's Iron Chefs and is considered a culinary rock star.
"We get fresh deliveries five days a week, whole fish," said Oliver. "As far as I know we are the only place in town that does that and our fish is certified sustainable."

Oliver said Tjandra is very consciousness.

"He doesn't offer any of the fishes that are known to be high in mercury content or on the endangered species list.

Sake, which opened Dec. 21, 2010, specializes in steaks, seafood and sushi, said Oliver.

"We are a combination of bistro and sushi bar," said Oliver. "Our concept behind the restaurant was to have something on the menu that would appeal to everyone. We have a very diverse menu.

The sushi and sashimi at Sake is among the best in the SCV.

A recent tasting left me dazzled with the freshness and creativity of Tjandra's offerings. Taste and presentation were outstanding.

Lia's food is equally exceptional. Among my favorites were the sous vide braised short rib ($17) and the wild mushroom filet mignon with burgundy blueberry reduction and wild mushroom gratin ($20.)

My lunch pick is the seared yellowfin tuna panini (found for $12 on the lunch menu). Make sure to try the fries with truffle oil - heaven on a plate ($5).

Don't forget desert. Pistachio panna cotta with salted caramel and fresh berries ($8) and caramelized banana creme brule with candied pecans with white and dark chocolate sauces ($8) are two choices you don't want to miss.

Also not to be forgotten is the Sake bar and Happy Hour. The bar features a high quality well and the bartenders are skilled at making many classic drinks using the original recipes dating from 1887.

"We take great pride in re-establishing cocktails made the way they were supposed to be," said Oliver.

Oliver said Happy Hour features drink and food priced from $2 to $7.

Also of note is Supper Club Sunday with the Jimmy Carnelli Jazz Duo and a three-course prix fixe menu at $23 per person.

Oliver said the menu at Sake is constantly evolving with new starters and entrees added every month. Guests can visit the restaurant's website to find the most up-to-date menu,

Sake Bistro & Sushi, 23889 Newhall Ranch Road, Valencia. 661-255-7253. Hours: Monday - Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to close. Happy Hour: Monday - Thursday: 3 p.m. - 7 p.m., Friday 3 p.m. - 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday: 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.


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