Catch former Kisumé chef Reki Rei at his pop-up on Burwood Road before it ships out in October.

Treasure from the sea. That’s the promise at new Hawthorn Japanese eatery Sachi – or at least that’s the translation of the phrase “umi no sachi”. The man presiding over this particular treasure trove is Reki Rei, a chef whose cooking journey began right here in Melbourne when he was an architecture student. He went on to train in Tokyo before eventually making his way to Kisumé, where, over six years, he worked his way up the ranks to the position of head sushi chef. Now he wants to bring the skills he honed in the world of extremely fancy omakase tastings to a (relatively) more approachable setting.

Here’s the lowdown.

At Sachi we want to deliver fine-dining-quality meals in a casual dining environment. We want to challenge the misconception that casual dining equates to lower quality. Our aim is to incorporate ingredients typically found in fine dining establishments, such as our use of aged red vinegar exclusively for seasoning sushi rice, a practice often reserved for high-end sushi restaurants.

The dish that sparked it all is the maguro chirashi don. It was inspired by the desire to showcase Australia’s exceptional bluefin tuna. The plate features a variety of cuts, including loin, belly, cured loin, seared loin, and minced parts, mixed with cured egg yolk in the middle, a true source of sachi – happiness.

Our à la carte menu offers snacks, sushi, and sashimi as starters, our specialty chirashi don, and a selection of main courses for those craving cooked seafood. The main courses are available as individual plates, set meals, or teishoku.

We still do an omakase menu. It starts at the relatively affordable price of $150 per person, and that includes starters, sashimi, sushi, and desserts. We serve a maximum of six people each session.

One of the highlights of the hot main courses is the marlin hamburg. In the place of the beef you’d expect in this dish, we use marlin, making the most of its flavourful, meaty profile, staying true to our mission of highlighting the best ingredients from the sea.

The thing I look forward to most at a good sushi restaurant is the rice. And the seafood specialties particular to the region. In Kanazawa, for example, I look forward to their sea perch. In Australia, meanwhile, we’re fortunate to have access to a wide variety of high-quality seafood, so I particularly look forward to the sushi rice quality.

I usually assess sushi chefs’ skills on the quality of their rice. As well as their fish-aging techniques, the texture of the fish they’re serving, curing methods, and their overall attention to detail. Whether it’s an intimate omakase experience or a larger sushi restaurant, each establishment offers a unique perspective on sushi craftsmanship.

Victoria is the source of some of the country’s best fish. Among them, King George whiting, garfish, snapper, flathead, and calamari. The state’s cool waters produce particularly tasty, plump, and sweet scallops, too.

Our pop-up in Hawthorn will continue until October. We’ve secured a lease on a location in the city, and while renovations are underway there, we’ll be giving Hawthorn our best. I hope we’ll see you soon.

Sachi, 64 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn, 0405 511 906, open 5pm-9pm Wed-Thu, 5pm-10pm Fri-Sat and 5pm-9pm Sun, @sachi.melb