Sara encourages undistracted dining and reconnection on all levels, from an emphasis on sharing small plates to clean modern design.
The restaurant is meant to be the sophisticated older sister to grittier Rasa, hence the name.
Situated in a two-level Victorian home, the 2400-square-foot space still feels homey, minimal signage barely indicating its presence.
After drinks and food have been ordered in stages, a ceremonial, immersive experience here begins with an oshibori (literally translating to “hot towel” in Japanese) to refresh and prepare for your meal.
A chopped salad ($16) is a vegan version of a staple found at Rasa. The base is always a signature schmear, here a creamy but punchy poblano cashew cheese.
A frilly, shredded mix of kale and Napa eats well, lifted by fennel and celery, wasabi peas adding a pop of spice, grapes adding sweetness and cashews adding crunch.
$20 for an order of two scallop and crab dumplings almost seems like a typo, though they are laden with a very generous amount of sweet and juicy Alaskan king crab. All dumpling wrappers are made from scratch in house and chilis come from their own fermentation program.
These wrappers are coloured black with squid ink, the dumplings accompanied by a crab hollandaise, a crispy heap of panko and toasted nori dust.
Squash latkes ($15) again seem prohibitively expensive for an order of four quarter-palm-sized cakes, though they do combine all my favourite things in a bite-sized package.
Maybe go easier on that luscious salmon roe to reduce sticker shock. A chive cream feels traditional and cooling in contrast with an edgier kombu syrup.
Shrimp tempura ($17) is topped with ginger and nori and spritzed tableside with an acidic mist of Japanese sudachi citrus.
Yellowtail sashimi ($20) is set off by Asian flavours of yuzu, togarashi and shiso.
Momo yakitori ($18) is one of several charcoal grill items, plated with a cherry mocha sauce and goat cheese mousse, the strongest flavours coming from a dusting of cocoa, cocoa nib, salt, espresso and amaranth.
Martinis are $18 with your choice of a selection of vodkas and gins, presented with garnish trays that match the flavour profile of your picks.
For example, this combination of Martin Miller’s gin, Dolin Rouge, and Guerra Rosso is paired with an almond-stuffed olive, orange twist, and sphere of Village Juicery charcoal lemonade to play against rich and sweet notes.
Design by ODAMI and conceptualization by MiiM incorporates innovative tabletop cubbies with heavy, spill-proof lids designed to stow your phone at the beginning of the meal. Servers remove the lid at the end to remind you to return to your phone, and emerge from the period of serenity Sara offers diners.