First Taste

First Taste: Sake Haus Stunts an 'Edgy Japanese Punk Band Aesthetic'

A few menu items from Sake Haus.
A few menu items from Sake Haus. Authentik Vision
When a new spot opens in town, we're eager to check it out, let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead, a peek inside restaurants that have just opened — an occasion to sample a few items and satisfy curiosities (both yours and ours).

Once you step inside Sake Haus Sushi and Sake Bar, you won’t be able to tell what time it is. And you won’t care either.

As customers walk in, they are instantly immersed in the glow of red lighting and surrounded by street posters and paper lanterns. A larger-than-life mural, painted by Yuko Yabuki, a Phoenix-based Japanese artist, transports you far from the desert.

Cool, trendy, and exciting are words to describe the newest addition to Roosevelt Row’s creative restaurants. Sake Haus is a culmination of Downtown Phoenix meets Japanese izakaya. The “edgy Japanese punk band aesthetic”, as Skyler Scott, Marketing & PR Manager attests, is unlike other sushi joints in Phoenix and Arizona – and it shows. That was exactly owner Julian Wright’s plan.

“As far as the aesthetic, I wanted to do something different from most of the sushi bars I've been to in Arizona,” Wright says. “I started doing lots of research on the microbars and restaurants in Tokyo, especially in the Golden Gai district. I fell in love with the owner-curated feel and individuality of the different spaces and knew that was the direction I wanted to go with Sake Haus. I hired some local artists who really helped get us to the cool street vibe.”
click to enlarge Murals decorate the walls at Sake Haus. - FINE LINE PHOTOGRAPHY
Murals decorate the walls at Sake Haus.
Fine Line Photography
Wright owns Fork & Dagger Hospitality, a restaurant and bar group that started with multiple spots in Tempe. Recently, he's moved into downtown Phoenix in a big way, opening a location of Pedal Haus Brewery along with Luckys Indoor Outdoor bar and Kahvi coffee shop.

His latest project Sake Haus is inviting, yet unassuming and intimate, a bar where you can hang out with friends or go on a date. Head chef Joe Cajipe says he wanted the food to reflect the intimacy and character of the space.

“We provide a traditional approach to our food, highlighting nigiri and sashimi, to pay homage to the cuisine and culture, while adding our own flair,” Cajipe says. “I am most excited to present a sushi-eating experience that is different from the norm, and one that exemplifies Downtown Phoenix.”

Sake Haus’ menu includes nigiri, chef specials, and maki rolls. From the signature nigiri list, you can’t go wrong with the O-Toro or the Chutoro, both made with roe, soy sauce, and wasabi paired with bluefin tuna with different levels of fat. Both taste fresh and tender.

The Bad & Buri is a dish that treats yellowtail two ways, with a pop of spice from some jalapeno and two different sauces. The Shogun seems simple, with fresh salmon, shiso, jalapeno, and wasabi. The lemon flavor takes a front seat, but all of the ingredients complement the salmon, the star of the dish.

click to enlarge An assortment of nigiri at Sake Haus. - AUTHENTIK VISION
An assortment of nigiri at Sake Haus.
Authentik Vision
As far as drinks, Sake Haus has a Toki Highball Machine that produces super-fine bubbly seltzer which is mixed with gin, whisky, or vodka. From the cocktail list, Sake Haus’ Lychee Margarita is cool and refreshing.

The bar also boasts an extensive sake list that explains the flavor profile, region, and milling percentage of each. The Divine Droplets sake is described as “refreshingly pure” and it is exactly that when you take a sip. It’s just as smooth going down.

Sake Haus seeks to continue to build the Downtown Phoenix community, the team says, and will host sake education classes in the future. The classes will allow attendees to sample sakes paired with light bites. Also on the horizon, Sake Haus plans to do Chef’s Table dinners with sake, of course, and multiple delicious courses.

Sake Haus has also recently launched happy hour specials, including 50 percent off all sake bottles on Mondays. Daily happy hours run Monday to Friday from 4 to 6p.m. and include $2 off cocktails and highballs, sake by the glass, beer, and sake bombs. Nigiri are $1 off, maki rolls are $2 off and nigiri omakase plates are discounted by $5.

Cool down on a hot summer night with some light bites of seafood and one of Sake Haus’ namesake sips.

Sake Haus

214 East Roosevelt Street

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Merichelle has chronicled her many food adventures since 2016. She is the Founder of the local food blog She Forks PHX. You’re most likely to find her munching on tacos on a Tuesday, sipping brews at a local cafe, or eating unicorn cakes.
Contact: Mer Norwood