My partner was recently accepted onto the anaesthetic training program for 2021, and we broke our own rules on not going out in order to celebrate. We had the $85pp tasting menu at Zushi Barangaroo, which we were able to enjoy after 30 minutes of circling the CBD to find a park. Allow me to explain.
We started off with the sashimi special, which was sliced raw whitefish with a chili ponzu dipping sauce, and garnished with some flying fish roe. I found this dish to be acceptable in freshness, and enjoyed the fish more alone than I did with the sauce.
The tuna tataki was seared yellowfin akami, crusted with sesame seeds and topped with fried leek and shisho cress. We have always been suckers for seared tuna, and enjoyed this dish. We would’ve kept the sauce too, had they not taken it away from us.
The chef’s selection of sashimi was a selection of sashimi selected by the chef. It was fresh and tasty, but certainly not a standout. There was nothing particularly fancy about this dish, a staple if you will. There are no irregularities to report.
I enjoyed the seared Hokkaido scallop in yuzu soy broth. The scallops were sweet, and complemented well by the sour-salty sauce. The radish puree was also sweet and complementary.
The corn ribs and the prawn tempura were the most divisive dishes of the meal. My partner absolutely loved the corn ribs, roasted and covered in parmesan with lime available for squeezing. She loved how juicy and sweet the corn was, and the complementary flavour of the cheese. It was certainly tempting enough for the people sitting next to us to ask what it was and order it for themselves. I’m not so much of a corn man myself so I offered one of my corns to my partner.
I enjoyed the prawn tempura. The prawns were very large and meaty, and the fluffy and fresh tempura batter was a treat. The dipping sauce and lime also worked well. I was able to trade one of my corn for one of my partners’ prawns, which produced a good result for both of us as she hates the cockroach of the sea.
The toothfish was disappointing. We were given this very small portion to share for two adults. How would we have shared it if we were just business colleagues on a business lunch? The actual quality of the toothfish was also very poor. Compared to other servings of toothfish I’ve had at other restaurants it was too firm and overcooked. I certainly expected better.
The duck teriyaki was good and provided in great quantity too. The teriyaki sauce was good with rice. I liked it more than my partner.
It is difficult to mess up white rice too badly. It mixed well with all of the different sauces we had left over. The grilled broccolini was tasty but again there was a lot of it. I did enjoy the seaweed butter flavouring but it got a bit much towards the end.
Overall we enjoyed Sushi Barangaroo. We probably wouldn’t go back for the tasting menu, but there did look to be quite a few attractive looking bentos being served for lunch. Maybe next time.
Arthur is one of the few – if not the only – Sydney fine dining establishments to be named after an animated aardvark. Located within what looks to be a converted house on a street corner Surry Hills, Arthur offers an ever changing and reasonably priced tasting menu with a focus on fresh domestic produce.
We dined in mid-December 2020 and took the liberty of adding on a few of the essential options to make a full menu at around $138 per head.
Arthur’s Sydney Rock Oysters with grape granita ($5.50 supplement) are on the pricier side for the Sydney restaurant scene. They were fresh, delicate, and of good quality, but we would usually not expect to pay more than $4 per oyster of this size. The grape granita added a new sweet and sour taste that I’ve not had with oysters elsewhere.
Both the bread and butter in Arthur’s sourdough and cultured butter are made in house. The bread had a nice solid crust but was light and fluffy on the inside. The cultured butter was a bit saltier than I expected, but still nice. One of my friends in particular was very keen on this butter, though in general I am more partial to unsalted or more lightly salted butters.
This kangaroo, tendon, and bush tomato tartare was quite good. I enjoyed the strong tomato flavours, and while one of my colleagues had initial misgivings about the gaminess of the kangaroo he too grew to like it. Kangaroo, for those not familiar, is quite a lean and somewhat gamey meat that can be had at very low prices. While the produce itself is not considered gourmet in Australia, it is certainly rare to have it served as a tartare.
The zucchini flower, scallop, shallot was a delicate dish of scallop and shallot stuffed inside a steamed zucchini flower. The flavours were very subtle, so much so that one of my colleagues did not realise there was scallop within his zucchini flower, even after he had eaten it. I think this was quite wholesome and healthy, though agree that the scallop was a bit hard to find.
I didn’t really like the calamari, macadamia, and daikon radish. The calamari was raw, fresh, and creamy, and all of the flavours worked well, except for the fact that certain mouthfuls had an unexplained bitterness that I could not reconcile. I don’t know what the bitter elements of the dish were, but they really hurt its quality for me. My partner who ate from a separate serving did not taste any bitterness at all. I wonder if it was an intentionally included flavour or rather a problem with quality.
The Moreton Bay Bug in carrot and saffron ($32 supplement per bug) is one of Arthur’s house specialties – a dish that persists throughout multiple iterations of the menu. The bug was large and generous, with all non-edible arms and other bits picked off and the cavity opened for convenience of eating. Another slight complaint with Arthur’s QA again here – the quality of meat was a little inconsistent, with some bugs more meaty and others a bit too soft. The sauce had a delicious strong seafood taste, quite similar to the prawn head sauce at Moxhe. We fell into the trap of only ordering three bugs between five diners as suggested by our waiter, but I think we really could’ve gone for one each. They are a high value add-on.
This is a little deep fried dough ball which comes with the Moreton Bay Bug to help soak up the sauce. The dough ball is very tasty, a little bit sweet, and very fresh on its own. I wish we could have had more of these. They’re little donuts.
We returned to the base set menu with the Grilled kingfish, nasturtium, green tomato. The kingfish was really delicious, with a tasty crispy skin and soft flesh with a delicate internal taste and texture. The natrutium, green tomato, and green sauce I thought was a bit unnecessary but in no way offensive. My one complaint with this dish is the miniature size of the serving we got to share between two. It was around one third of the serving our other colleagues received between three. Kingfish is really not an expensive fish and I think a bit more (or even a bit more care in portioning) would’ve gone a long way.
The third “bread” of the night was a potato scroll with silverbeet and black garlic sauce. I liked this. It had a nice savoury taste. The sauce which looked like chocolate was not.
The dry aged borrowdale pork loin was really good. The pork had a little bit of crispy fattiness around the edges, and was otherwise tender throughout. The sauce it was served in was full of umami flavours.
The plum and cherry with cultured cream was a tart little side dish served with the pork. Not super memorable.
Lettuce was even less memorable.
The tart of bruny island “tom” (apparently a sheep’s milk), apricot, and cultured cream ($7 supplement per tart) was really good. The cheesiness and the sweet and sour flavours of the apricot really melded together well. The pastry of the tart was thin and light, yet held its structural rigidity well.
The dessert of mango, raspbery, yoghurt was phenomenal. The mango and raspberry, with different crumbs dried to different degrees, provided a broad spectrum of sweet and tangy tastes to the yoghurt base. This was widely enjoyed by all colleagues around the table. Really special.
The final course was this housemade wagon wheel. It was a bit darker and less sweet than the wagon wheels from the supermarket but apart from that not really something to write home about.
We shared a bottle of Ngeringa Uncultured Cider ($50) around the table. It was pretty good, quite dry without much sweetness, but refreshing.
VERDICT I think that reading through this blog post I’ve indicated a few hits and a few misses, but ultimately the dining experience at Arthur was very good and cohesive with all aspects taken into account. It’s probably been one of our top meals of the year. I would definitely recommend splurging for the Moreton Bay Bug as it is one of the shining stars of the meal.
We paid $138 per person including drinks and it was money well spent. The base price for the meal is $90 per person but doesn’t include oysters, the bug, or the cheese tart.
This is a review of the Soul Dining modern Korean tasting menu as at 13th November 2020. All portions shown were served for 3 people, at $65 per person.
Our first dish was Kingfish in kimchi water with avocado puree, white kimchi. We had six pieces between the three of us to be eaten in one mouthful each. The kingfish sashimi was tender and fresh. The avocado puree added a surprising dimension of creamy umami. The kimchi water added a mild tanginess that was not too kimchi for my partner (an anti-kimchi individual) to eat and enjoy.
The wagyu tartare with singo pear and egg yolk (yukhoe) served on tempura seaweed was special. The wagyu was soft and minced and the egg yolk mixed in expertly by my partner coated it with a level of umami. The tempura seaweed provided a nice crunch for a fun mix of textures. A great dish.
Kim’s grilled eggplant with anchovy paste, tomato jam, manchego was in my opinion the weakest dish of the meal . I guess I’m not a big fan of eggplant and the histamine feeling in the mouth and throat to begin with. I could not at all identify the anchovy paste. The manchego shaved over the eggplant provided a nice sweetness, and melted by the end of the dish.
The Lamb backstrap in potato bun with cabbage salad, green tomato relish, cumin was also a bit weak. The lamb backstrap was steak-form, not minced, and crumbed. It didn’t really feel like more than your standard burger. I wonder if our three person serving was the same size as the two person servings, but just cut in 3 pieces. My partner took a fork and picked up the middle piece first. She thought it was a bit too lamby and could’ve used more cumin, however both myself and her brother thought that the lambiness was just fine. This was one of the favourite courses for my partner’s brother.
The Half free range chicken ‘traditional way’ with Korean chilli glaze is basically Korean fried chicken with a twist. The chicken was fried but not battered. The meat was tender and juicy, and my partner thought it was more tender and juicy than the crispy chicken at Khoi’s Vietnamese in Surry Hills that we had had the previous night. The presentation was really nice with a nice mix of colours. A good dish.
The Cinnamon Churros with espresso glaze, salted caramel ice cream, sea salt and coffee peanuts would be my pick of dessert. The churros were nice and crunchy. I am not normally a fan of salted caramels and while it was true again today I did not mind it. I liked the difference in temperatures between the churros and cold ice cream.
As a non-fan of honey, I actually quite enjoyed the honey in this Snow bingsoo with baked mango, mango sorbet, milk snow, honey and nutmeg. What I didn’t enjoy so much was the sheer volume of baked mango which added too strong a concentrated, sticky, and dry mangoness to this mango dessert. Despite this I enjoyed this bingsoo more than the last time I had bingsoo at Hello Happy in Strathfield.
The house provided this Green tea panna cotta with chantilly cream & strawberries, dango, rice syrup dessert for us for free. It was very generous of them to allow us to try all three desserts, as normally with two diners only one dessert is provided. It’s hard to judge this dessert as it was served last, after our palates had been sweetened by the previous two. The green tea panna cotta was not sweet.
The omija with five berries spritz was good. Not too sweet. The yuzu iced tea I thought was a bit too sweet, and not iced enough on serving. It could’ve done with a few more shakes to cool the liquid down a bit.
Overall we had a great meal at Soul Dining. Service from one of the Caucasian front of house staff was also very good. She was very friendly. $65 per person for a tasting menu of this caliber is also a very good price. I’d love to come back for a few more things on the a la carte menu, for example their octopus.
Yachiyo seems to be a true hidden gem of Japanese dining in Sydney. It’s one of, if not the only place where you can get a full 20 – piece omakase without basically any notice. My partner and I were able to book at around noon for a same-day Friday evening omakase dinner. Be careful though – If you try and book too late in the day you won’t be able to – but you normally will be able to book the following day.
Yachiyo has three grades of omakase – we chose the middle grade, “OMAKASE MIX”, which featured a bit of yakitori and tempura as well as the usual yakitori. Here’s what we got for $80 per person (it was quite impressive.)
The first nigiri offered was a piece of tuna belly (toro) of Japanese origin. It was very oily and fatty, as tuna belly should be. My partner really enjoyed this first piece, but I felt like mine unfortunately had a bit of connective tissue to it which decreased the quality of the fish. Overall quite good, but I didn’t like it as much as course 2.
The second piece was nigiri with Australian bluefin tuna, aged for twelve days. This morsel may have been my favourite little morsel of the meal. While not imported from a far away land, I found that the fish in this piece had a perfect texture with no distracting components. It was fatty but not overpoweringly fatty, and the aging really enhanced its umami tuna flavours.
The third serving of the night was an aburi salmon belly nigiri. The fatty salmon belly with the lightly caramelised surface with rendered fats was delicious. The chef Mitsuhiro Yashio told us that each salmon only had enough belly to produce six pieces of this nigiri. Poor salmons.
The aburi kingfish belly nigiri was the fourth piece of the meal, and the first piece that I didn’t feel was very special. Chef talked it up a bit as another rare piece of fish, but despite the slightly higher fattiness of it I found the taste and texture not too different from the commodity aburi kingfish nigiri that you would get at a normal sushi restaurant (for example Sushi Rio or Sushi Hotaru). Still yummy.
Piece 5 was the bluefin tuna temaki (hand roll). I wasn’t sure if there was some natto inside – I thought that’s what I saw and is pictured on the left side of the photo, but I couldn’t really taste it and my partner doubts me. Keeping in the theme of the delicious bluefin tuna, this hand roll was also one of my favourites. I loved the tender fatty tuna, as well as the really high quality seaweed. Delicious.
Our sixth dish was bluefin tuna sashimi in ponzu dressing. For some reason I didn’t like this as much. I think I was more a fan of their fish with rice, as rice generally can provide a bit of a contrast to fatty fish.
The seventh course was royal red prawn nigiri. Unfortunately I made a mistake, and the chef paid the price. I had advised the restaurant that I was allergic to scampi, but that prawns and other crustaceans were OK. Unfortunately the prawn that they served me was the exact same prawn (royal red) that I had at the debacle at MOXHE. While I don’t know if it was the prawn or another piece of mystery seafood that set off my gastrointestinal tract, I didn’t want to leave it to chance. Had it been literally any other prawn I probably would’ve gone for it. My partner ended up having both of the royal red prawn – she said that the texture was similar to MOXHE’s but the taste wasn’t as sweet and not as good – and the chef prepared me a consolation prize at no additional cost. Thank you.
My consolation prize for not being able to really eat the royal red prawn was this piece of salmon sushi. I can’t find any words to describe this form of sushi, but it was basically a piece of fish and some rice sandwiched within a folded piece of seaweed. Almost like a mini, single bite temaki. It was actually quite good, and very thoughtful and nice of the chef to fix what was ultimately my own doing.
Items eight, nine, and ten were assorted yakitori. I will describe them in the order I ate them in.
Item eight, the chicken thigh yakitori, was juicy and flavourful. It was delicious, and exactly how I remember all of the good yakitori that I had in Japan. It is much better than some of the yakitori I’ve had here in Sydney, for example at Lantern by Wagaya.
Item nine, the salmon belly yakitori, was super fatty and delicious. It basically melted in my mouth as soon as I bit into it, and I loved that there was some crispy skin to mix up the texture. My partner didn’t like this that much but she’s wrong – she’s not a big fan of seafood in general (but seems to love sushi!).
Item ten, the skewered pork and ginger meatballs, were less exciting. The chicken and salmon belly yakitori were just so special, but I felt like the meatballs were just meatballs, and perhaps a bit too strongly flavoured for my liking.
Food number eleven was a cuttlefish nigiri with shiso-salt. As I usually eat nigiri with fish-to-tongue, I was quite shocked to receive a strong flavour hit as the shiso-salt coated my tongue with saltiness. Evidently that is not the way to go with this particular piece of sushi. Once I got over the intense saltiness of the salt I started to enjoy the rich, creamy cuttlefish texture and flavours. I don’t normally think of cuttlefish as creamy, but a combination of this particular cuttlefish’s intrinsic qualities, the normally chewy texture of cuttlefish ing eneral, as well as the flavour micro-cuts gave it an extremely creamy flavour that actually lasted a long time in my mouth.
I thought that morsel twelve – hokkaido scallop nigiri with yuzu dressing, was a bit of a letdown. While I’m used to raw scallop being sweet I actually thought this nigiri had a bit of a bitter taste to it.
Dish thirteen was bar cod nigiri. This is the first time I have had bar cod, but to be honest it didn’t leave a lasting impression. It tasted very similar to most other white fish out there.
Number fourteen was tempura zucchini with a prawn-meat filling. Chef warned me about the prawn as I wasn’t keen to eat the earlier prawn sashimi, but I thought I would be ok with this prawn and I was right. I wonder if the potential allergen is something that is denatured by cooking. I enjoyed the tempura – it came fresh from the deep fryer, and the distance from the fryer to us seated at the bar was very limited. This was my first time having tempura zucchini, and I enjoyed it. I’m not sure how common zucchini is as a vegetable to tempura. The prawn meat inside was tasty, but not quite prawn – more like cooked surimi type stuff. Not bad.
Bite fifteen saw the return of the as yet unnamed temaki-but-not-curled, gunkan-but-not-a-boat, now with oyster filling. I enjoyed this oyster – it was not seasoned, unlike the oysters I’ve been having with dressings at Western restaurants, which helped accentuate the mild ocean flavour. My partner, who is not very keen on oysters at all even tried it.
Nibble number sixteen was cooked abalone with rice, sandwiched within a folded nori sheet. Abalone is quite an upscale seafood, but I was sad not to have it raw (not that I’m sure if it’s even possible). If I’m being honest I couldn’t really taste the taste of the abalone, which must have been subtle. Most of the flavour was from the sauced up rice and the nori.
Mouthful seventeen was finally something I could identify – ikura gunkan. This particular gunkan had absolutely massive bulbous salmon roes, larger than any I’ve had in recent memory. Unfortunately though I found these particular roe to too marinated for my personal taste. They had a strong sweet and salty taste that didn’t really leave much of the fresh roe flavour. My partner also criticised it for not being as creamy as she would have liked.
The eighteenth and final fish piece of the meal was a deliciously fatty cooked black cod sushi. It had a flaky, melt in your mouth texture, with strong patagonian toothfish energy. Yum.
Our nineteenth and final morsel was a crunchy matcha dessert, which tasted of white chocolate and rice puffs. A nice, light, but not very showy end to a nice meal.
Overall we had a really good time at Yachiyo. The food was delicious, the price was excellent, and even the table water was filtered. I can highly recommend, and indeed have already recommended Yachiyo to two separate groups of colleagues on the same night that I’ve eaten there. Yum.
A long-standing fine dining establishment such as Tetsuya’s hardly needs the insights of an unlisted food blogger with a cell phone camera and no hats to give, but this blog isn’t about what Tetsuya needs. It is about what I need.
Let’s first set the scene. Tetsuya’s tucked away behind a nondescript, kind of shabby looking former homeless shelter on Kent St. It would not be possible to tell, from the street, that there was a beautiful Japanese inspired building and one of the most expensive restaurants in Sydney just metres away.
Diners were seated around the dining hall, with two groups seated in the middle. There was ample room between us and the other diners, and we were seated in a way so as to face away from the other parties. Our seats were in fact arranged facing the window as opposed to the inside of the room, which helped create a sense of intimacy as well as a sense of insulation from the other diners. We had the opportunity to admire the serene Japanese garden for a few minutes before sunset.
Table water was ample, and surprisingly served with a slice of lime. It was at testament to the service that I only found myself wanting for water once during the entire three hour affair. Utensils were adequate.
Our waiter joked that Testuya’s Negroni (L) was the best in town, and that he wasn’t just saying that because he was Italian. This joke was lost on us, two casual diners who were not previously aware of the geographic origin of the drink. My partner just wanted it because it had cherry in it. I had the Kyoto Mule (R), which was a non-alcoholic, yuzu and ginger beer based mocktail. Both drinks were good.
The oysters were a $12 supplement (for 2 oysters each) per person. The citrusy dressing paired well with the fresh oyster meat, so much so that my partner even enjoyed them. You will know from my review of our time at MOXHE that she doesn’t like oysters very much at all. A worthy supplement, in my opinion. After all, when you’re spending $250 a head, what’s another $12?
One of the things that I quite enjoyed at Tetsuya’s was that each dish was served to us in the same orientation. That is, while my partner and I were sitting at right angles from each other, the dishes appeared the same for us. This was actually quite helpful for photography, as I did not have to turn the dishes to get the full view.
The first dish was “Sashimi of SA Hiramasa Kingfish with Sesame leaf and Daikon”. I cleansed my Kyoto Mule addled palate with some table water before digging into the daikon radish, however I found that this was pointless as it was marinated in prominent yuzu flavouring. Indeed the taste of the yuzu-marinated daikon radish was very similar to my drink. I found the kingfish to be fresh with its characteristic mellow and mild flavour, and we did note some flavour cuts in the sashimi itself to help accentuate its taste. This dish was ultimately good, however I did think that the strong yuzu flavour overpowered the delicate kingfish.
The Sancho Infused Corn Custard with Alba White Truffle was a disappointment and a half. The corn custard was very sweet and tasty, so much so that it made it very difficult to appreciate the subtle flavours of the shaved white truffle. The sweet corn was no more than just sweet corn, and neitiher my partner nor I were wowed. The custard was allegedly flavoured with sancho however it lacked both ma and la. This was the first dish that our waiter served without calling it memorable, and I stronlgy agree. A truly forgettable experience.
Whilst eating the above corn cream dish we were presented with this bowl of butter without explanation. I will reveal what it is later on, but for now I want you to feel the feeling of disjointedness that I felt on the night. My impression of fine dining is that the restaurant’s staff are meant to anticipate your speed of eating and deliver the dishes as you finish the previous one. This was not the case however, and I felt like I had to hurry through my disappointing corn cream as I wasn’t sure if they were about to bring the next dish.
The Confit Ocean Trout with Salad of Apple and Witlof is Tetsuya’s specialty, and it shows. Cooked in oil at a very low temperature, the trout maintains its raw, firm texture. We were instructed to cut the portion of fish up with our spoons and then eat it however we liked. The seaweed and spice crust was superb. The roe was deliciously creamy with a physically strong wall which required greater than average pressure to pop open. While a delight I can’t help but notice that we only received one scoop of roe as opposed to the four scoops of roe featured on Tetsuya’s website. The apple salad was fresh and tangy, and provided a good counter for the taste of the trout. Hidden underneath the apple salad was a smear of goat’s curd, a hidden ingredient if you will, which really elevated the dish to the standing of a specialty.
This is a pretty standard leafy green salad. It is not part of the written menu. It was served at the same time as the confit trout, however I do not understand how they fit together. Nothing to write home about.
Next was the Patagonian Toothfish with Asparagus, Smoked Pil Pil and Finger Lime. We’ve been having quite a bit of toothfish around the place as well as at home, and unfortunately I think that took away a bit of the magic from this dish. The serving of fish was extra small but quite nice. My partner very kindly said that it was not cooked as well as the toothfish I made recently at home, but I disagree. It was not faultable. I enjoyed the asparagus which was wrapped in seaweed along its stem but not at the head – a nice detail to add. This was my first time eating finger limes and I was surprised by how such small beads could pack so much sour flavour, however I didn’t think they went well with the more traditional flavours of the asparagus and toothfish.
Welcome back to the truffle butter, now with breads. We overheard the water telling the couple seated next to us that they had forgotten the bread, which was meant to be served at the start of the dish. They did not afford us the same courtesy of open disclosure, which was disappointing. The bread was served four courses in. It consisted of one piece each of loafy bread and one piece each of a seaweed flavoured scroll. Both pieces of bread were good. I thought that the seaweed scroll stood well on its own merit (with a bit of a vegemite scroll feeling) and did not benefit from the addition of truffle butter. The loafy bread did benefit from the addition of truffle butter, which we found to be very soft and almost foamy.
I really enjoyed the NSW Duck Breast with White Turnip, Kohlrabi and Pickled Garlic Capers. The duck was dry aged and had a delicious honey-soy like flavour. The skin was extra crispy, with a delicate layer of sweet fat underneath. The garlic capers added a fun zest to the flavouring, while the white turnip mash provided a mellow and sweet homey feeling to the dish. I didn’t enjoy the green garlic sauce.
I enjoyed the fatty marbling of the NSW Rangers Valley Wagyu Sirloin with pickled Shittake and Radicchio. The meat was cooked medium rare which was perfect to bring out the marbled texture. The sliced shittake was a delicious and perfect accompaniment. I did not care for the radicchio/chicory.
This Yuzu, Chartreuse, Apple dessert was a light and tangy and cold palate cleanser. I really liked this one.
This is a chocolate stone with honey and milk. We both really enjoyed the milk-flavoured ice cream. The chocolate was indeed a stone and the external layer required some force to crack. I did not find the chocolate circle to be any different to the chocolate on top of the chocolate stone, however I understand it must have been difficult to arrange.
These are the petit fours, however there were only two per person. The mandarin flavoured macaroons were some of the best I’ve ever had, however they were certainly very petit.
Happy birthday to my stupid and smelly girlfriend. The diners next to us did not receive such cake as it was merely their Scottish wedding anniversary. Their son, now 18 years old, stays inside his room all day playing video games. They are scheming as to how to get him out of the house – perhaps on a holiday (they seem like they can afford it – they ordered sparkling rather than tap water to drink), perhaps in a part time job.
Tetsuya’s 529 Kent St, Sydney NSW 2000 (02) 9267 2900