At The Bar with Executive Chef Winston Zhang from Akaiito

Shanghai-born and Melbourne-based Executive Chef Winston Zhang brings his culinary magic to the omakase summer dining menu at Akaiito Restaurant.

The five and seven course options are curated with a selection of wine, sake and cocktails that are updated seasonally. The wine list was created in consultation with sommelier Grant Van Every, with sakes chosen by Akaiito owner and Front of House Manager Christine Chen.

“We focus on the finest seasonal and local produce that highlights a creative approach to Japanese and French cuisine,” says Winston Zhang.

Owner Christine Chen recommends a glass of Imada Fukucho ‘Seaside Sparkling’ Junmai, which pairs with seafood canapés and oysters that are offered as an optional add-on snack, or indulge in Tete Japanese Botanical Liquor  – a limited edition organic botanical liquor that’s also purposefully decadent.

Winston Zhang talks to The Write Drop for our At The Bar series, revealing a Sydney bar you’ll find him at time and again, where he heads for a late-night drink in Melbourne and the NZ region with wines that continue to impress.


I was born in Shanghai, a city where East meets the West, which has traditional folk, but an international and modern culture. I moved to Australia aged 25, originally to Sydney where I became a Chef, but discovered my true passion for cooking whilst living and working in Melbourne.


I can never go past a home-cooked meal by my partner. Anything she makes is always full of love and creativity, and nothing can ever compare to the dishes she serves up.


Margaux, a classic cocktail bar that always has a good vibe. I often end up there after service for a late-night wagyu cheeseburger.


Negroni – a classic Italian drink that has the balance of both the bitter and sweet. There’s a Chinese proverb that states “The bitter must come before the sweet” and I believe no sweet without sweat, no pain, no gain.


Digestive tea by my partner. It contains multiple herb medicines, root vegetables, sugar cane, and Imperata. It’s tasty and always recovers my body with its detoxifying properties.


Cantina OK! Sydney. It has a really interesting and unique concept, serving up some of the best margaritas going around. The staff are absolute legends, always so hospitable and create wonderful weekly specials.


Pinot Noir is always my favourite wine, a catch-all food pairing wine, from seafood to richer red meat.


Bald Hill and Stoneridge Estate Cellar Door offers a real treat. I enjoy their award-winning wines on the peaceful lakeside. Central Otago is another favourite, the surrounding mountains and lakes with a cool climate and derived soils combined with the young, passionate winemakers produce a spectacular Pinot Noir.


To create a new chapter for gastronomic dining experiences in Australia and New Zealand. I want to increase diners’ engagement and encourage a philosophy that is more about the experience rather than just food and beverage.


Sake Margherita – brewed with rice basil and tomatoes. It is a very summery drink that is elegant and goes so well with our marron dishes.


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