As a fan of Japanese food unfortunately trapped on the wrong side of the Harbour Bridge, Sekka had been on my list of restaurants to try for some time. I finally found myself in St Leonards following a day of meetings at a nearby state ministry (the room where it happens), and ignoring my friend WKS’ advice, sat down for a meal at Sekka.
It turns out I probably should have listened.
We started our meal with a number of snacks, the first of which was the scallops in soy chimichurri and shiso ($3.50 each). These were quite good, with good flavour and a well-grilled but not too grilled texture.
Our next morsel was the M8 Wagyu yakitori with onions (2 for $16). While there was nothing wrong with the way these yakitori was cooked (see the cross-section for the nice rarity of meat), the meat was actually quite a bit tougher than expected. I guess that’s what happens when they specify “M8 Wagyu” but not the actual cut of meat provided.
The chicken thigh (skin on) yakitori with ginger and shallot dressing (2 for $14) should have been good, but despite everything in their favour were ultimately middling. The actual chicken of it was quite good – juicy on the inside, crispy skin on the outside. It was in fact so juicy that I burnt my tongue on the juices inside, though that was no one’s fault but my own, it was the path I’d chosen to go. The ultimate problem with this yakitori was, in my opinion, the general lack of flavour to the meat. It could’ve really done with a bit of salt or some tare, and while ginger and shallot is one of my top Asian flavourings I just don’t think it really goes that well with this kind of chicken (it’s great on Hainanese chicken rice, though).
Perhaps most disappointing of all was Sekka’s much lauded chicken wing gyoza (2 for $15). Essentially a chicken wing stuffed with prawn and deep fried (there is a mention of truffle on their menu but I’m not sure where that was hidden), these would’ve been good were they not so blandly flavoured. Frequent readers of this blog know that I prefer lighter flavours than most, but even then these winged gyoza could’ve done with a bit more.
After a procession of minimally inspiring entrees, our main course, the hojicha smoked duck ramen ($23), was actually amazing. The soup flavours were clear, vibrant and balanced, with neither the smoke nor the spicy shansho nor the tea flavours overplaying their weight. The semi-boiled egg was a umami treat, as was each slice of smoked duck breast, each presented with a sliver of skin and fat. Even the noodles were good. This was such a great bowl of ramen that I immediately regretted filling up on all those fried and grilled sides. I would’ve loved to have tried some of their other ramens.
Go, but skip the small plates and head straight for the ramen. That’s where the money is.
Shop 1, St Leonards Square, 472-488 Pacific Hwy, St Leonards NSW 2065
(02) 8054 9788