After an aborted attempt at omakase at Gold Class Daruma during the COVID-19 delta outbreak in 2021, my partner and I were finally able to make our way there to experience Chef Yuta Nakamura’s lunch omakase in early 2022.
We started with some kind of beverage. I don’t really know what to tell you. I only had a small sip. I’ve kind of stopped drinking.
Our appetizer was a small, four shaped star plate with tiger prawn, octopus, and spicy cod roe. The cod roe sack was served slightly torched, and though found it to have too strong and salty a flavour for my liking, much preferring such sea eggs mixed with land eggs in a sort of mentai mayo execution. The octopus and prawn were much milder and more enjoyable, with a nice nuttiness exhibited by the prawn and a kind of olive-oil flavour from the tender octopus.
Our next dish was a sashimi dish featuring kingfish, salmon, mildly seared tuna, and seaweed, smoked in front of us on the bench. The smoked flavour was present though ultimately missable if the whole affair didn’t occur before our eyes. The seaweed had an unexpected but appealing apple-like flavour.
Next up was grilled alfonsino collar, though its identity remained a mystery to both us and the diners next to us for some time. It was only when we asked Chef Yuta to repeat himself that he brought out his labelled diagram of the fish and the guy next to me stopped pretending to know what it was. This part of the alfonsino, also known as imperador, was quite oily and mildly fishy. My partner and I were not the biggest fans of this for the fish itself, but we did appreciate the seasoning as well as the yummy pickles that accompanied it.
I’ve never been disappointed by chawanmushi, and this iteration with abalone was no exception, with its silky warming texture and strongly umami flavours.
This is a box of sea creatures about to be placed on rice, divided between four patrons. The fact that Chef Yuta, arguably the most popular chef at Gold Class Daruma, only had the four of us for his lunch seating is quite interesting, as it means that it is difficult for them to achieve the economies of scale that omakase chefs with booked out seatings of six or even eight diners can achieve.
On offer nigiri-wise was a selection of alfonsino, bonito, see eel, paradise prawn, oyster, scallop, kingfish, travelly, cuttlefish, and o-toro. All pieces of nigiri were of a top standard, with fresh fish and perfect warm rice. The cuttlefish did not tickle my partner’s fancy, and she had quite a visceral reaction to its slimy texture, though I personally enjoyed how creamy it was. The bonito was an extremely soft mouthful, and kingfish belly was aburied to further accentuate its oiliness more.
I’m long thought that I might be mildly allergic to raw crustaceans, but steeled myself for my encounter with this raw paradise prawn, which proved to be sweet and non-deadly. The aburi scallop was served with yuzu kosho on top.
The nigiri course was interrupted by a small ikura hand roll.
The nigiri course was capped off with o-otoro topped with caviar, and a great grilled sea eel nigiri that was surprisingly meaty with a non-oily, flaky texture.
The sea urchin and mashed tuna hand roll, with tuna mashed before our eyes was quite good and of an equal standard to other rolls served at other restaurants. I will note that unlike competitors Kuon and Hachijoi Chef Yuta chose to separate the ikura from the uni and toro, serving them as two rolls rather than combined into one.
The miso soup, nearing the end of our meal had a sweet, tare-like flavour.
I didn’t really go to Gold Class Daruma expecting an amazing dessert, and my expectations were therefore fulfilled when we received this mixed plate of yuzu sorbet (good but I feel like it was probably from a tub – happy to be corrected), red bean (which my partner, red-bean hater, liked), matcha cake (quite good actually), and yuzu jelly (which tasted like nothing).
For $110 pp I feel that Chef Yuta’s omakase at Gold Class Daruma is pretty reasonable. I must admit though that I didn’t love the smoked dish, the mentaiko, or the dessert, and it is highly possible that Gold Class Daruma’s reasonably priced a la carte offerings (ie. $50 for 10 piece nigiri from Chef Yuta) may be even better.
I’d still go again, either for a la carte or for omakase by one of the other chefs.
Gold Class Daruma
The Grace Sydney, Level 1/77 York St, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9262 1190