Lunch @ LuMi Dining (Sydney, Australia)

September 5, 2020 in Italian, Italian Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

So after my arrival in Sydney for my overseas work stint, my first fine dining meal was at LuMi Dining which had 2 hats in the Good Food Guide (2020). Why LuMi Dining? Well… I guess I was attracted by the water views it offered. Keke.

As I made my way to the restaurant on the day of my lunch, I was surprised to see where LuMi Dining was located in. I was expecting the restaurant to occupy a ground floor unit of a building based on pictures of its interior. But it was located in a standalone container perched on the wharf. Okie, it’s probably not a container. That’s the engineer in me talking with my construction language of my first impression. Others called it a modern glass structure or a lightbox. I guess I walked towards the restaurant from the wrong side.

So yes, the exterior and the interior were very different. It may look dull on the outside, but it was beautifully furnished on the inside. I came for the view and was greeted with a perfect view of water and yachts. Even the light reflected off the water looked like sparkling diamonds!

As I took my seat, the staff asked if it was my first time at LuMi Dining. I nodded. And she went on to explain the menu. Now… When I was made my reservation, I made my selection for the chef’s menu. But there was options to have add-ons. I decided against ordering additional oysters. Instead, I went with the pasta dish with additional truffle. Uh huh. Add-on on top of add-on. Haha.

And with that, I commenced my lunch (chef’s menu, AUD185) with:-


  
  

1) Tuna, tart, Italian gunkan, buckwheat, taco (above) – Started my lunch with assorted snacks which I was told would keep coming one after another. And indeed, it came non-stop. Although I finished my first and was struggling to finish taking picture of the second, the staff placed the fifth snack on my table. Oh my god. Snacks included tuna tartare with shisho leaf which was meant to be eaten like a sandwich, pumpkin tart with glazed pumpkin seeds, Italian gunkan, bckwheat gougère with casera cheese within, and taco with fish tartare and chives. The snacks were amazing. The Italian gunkan, or what one could call an Italian sushi, was sea urchin topped on koshihikari rice and with stracciatella cheese within. But my favourite was the pumpkin tart.


2) Pie (above) – Served with thick chicken sauce gravy on the side. And for the pie, I was only given a knife. Wasn’t sure why but I requested for a fork. It was only later through observing others that I realised one was to slice the pie and pick it up with one’s fingers. Well, I’m eating it the ladylike way. Hahaha. But! I also realised the pie was meant to be shared by the table. I polished the entire pie by myself. Gasp.


3) Red emperor (above) – Red emperor sashimi with kiwi, dashi jelly, herb oil and buffalo cheese. Loved this!


4) Asparagus (above) – Steamed egg (chawanmushi) with white asparagus, caviar and yuzu dressing. And the texture of the steamed egg was very light on the palette. Almost similar to silken tofu!

5) Agnolotti (above) – Served in (clear) mushroom dashi broth. I would normally bite into the ravioli to snap a photograph of the the filling. But I couldn’t because it was liquid within the ravioli. Really interesting! The filling was akin to thick, creamy mushroom soup. Really tasty!


6) Pici scarlet prawns globe artichoke & sesame, AUD22 (+ AUD28, black truffle) (above) – Got this as an add-on to my set menu. Served very al dente, I didn’t really like the noodle texture. I also didn’t like the white sesame seeds. And I felt the truffle did nothing for the dish. This unfortunately didn’t work for me.


7) Murray cod (above)


  

8) Pork (above) – The skin was pretty black, but this was so good! Although the cabbage could do with less butter. I spied other tables and realised their strips were like 25% thicker. But all’s good though. I most likely couldn’t finish a thicker strip than what was served because I was feeling pretty full from finishing an entire pie earlier.

9) White chocolate & sudachi (above) – The sudachi was like a frozen yogurt. And I liked that it was citrus flavoured. A very interesting (form of) palette cleanser.

10) Buffalo (above) – Coffee-infused cream, and popcorn with kombucha.

11) Frangipane (above) – And this was actually a (halved) tart.

There were 3 waiting staff attending to customers on the day of my lunch. One was exceptional. But I was particularly annoyed at another who introduced the dishes by standing behind me, rattled on like a machine gun, and ended his dish introduction immediately with a “welcome”. Ain’t sure if it’s just me that’s picky, but the difference in the service standards stood out when Mr Poor Performing was compared against Ms Exceptional.

Nonetheless, I had an enjoyable meal at LuMi Dining. My meal came up to a total of AUD213. I left the restaurant feeling really full. And was slightly surprised that my lunch lasted 3 hours!

LUMI BAR AND DINING
56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 9571 1999, Website
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Fri – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Wed – Sun : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon & Tue

Dinner @ Nishiazabu K+ (Tokyo, Japan)

June 8, 2020 in Italian by thywhaleliciousfay

It was from the many pictures posted on instagram that I got to know about Nishiazabu K+. Well… The then Kagero, and now Nishiazabu K+. I was particularly drawn to their shaved ice dessert (kakigori). I mean… It’s hard not to since I love kakigori and many people were raving how good theirs was.

So a bit on the restaurant’s background… Thought it may helpful because I was baffled when I got down to making my reservation; I knew the restaurant as Kagero, but it was with K+ that I made my reservation with.

Through instagrammer @andrew_gyokudari and blogger missneverfull, I learnt it all started with L’equateur. Since 2015, L’equateur (arguably the hardest-to-book French restaurant in Tokyo) would go on a 3-months hiatus every year to change its name to Kagero where head chef Yoshiyuki Ono took on his interpretation of Japanese-Italian cuisine. However by late 2017, they decided to open a new restaurant named K+. But unlike their previous practise with Kagero where it’s only opened during summer, K+ would be operational all year long. Yeah! However, while chef Ono san does not lead the kitchen at K+, the menu is produced by him.

For my reservation in March 2019, I did the booking 1 month in advanced. Ie, starts on the first date of each month for the following month’s reservation. And for overseas reservation, a non-refundable pre-payment was required. The restaurant would send the payment link via email after the reservation was made on their website.

And in my reservation, I indicated I was dining solo. To which the restaurant replied they could prepare 1 seat for me, with the course fee being ¥20,196 (tax and service charged included). After I made my pre-payment, I was further informed that I may have to pay additional cost and cover charged depending on what I ordered during my meal.

By public transport, one could choose the 10 minutes walk to K+ from Hiro-o metro station. I chose to alight at Roppongi metro station, which was a slightly longer walk of 20 to 25 minutes. And it was weird that I entered to an almost empty restaurant at 7pm. I guess I was expecting them to be ‘full house’. But that said, I guess the locals could only dine late. It’s either that or they were after the a-la carte menu which was only offered from 9pm. Cause when I left around 9.30pm, most of the tables were occupied.

After taking my counter seat, I was given the menu (pages 1, 2, 3). And for my pre-fixed course (¥17,000), I could choose 5 dishes from the appetiser section, and 5 dishes from the main course and dessert sections. And I ordered:-


1) Bread, Complimentary (above)

2) Appetiser with options of:-


  

(A) Steamed black abalone and caviar with abalone liver sauce (+ ¥700) (topmost)

(B) Marinated jelly fish with yuzu pepper (above, right)

(C) Fish carpaccio (above)

(D) Soft boiled egg with truffle (above, left)


(E) Snow crab croquette with tartare and caviar (+ ¥700) (above)

3) Main course with options of:-

(A) Sea urchin carbonara (+ ¥700) (above)

(B) Squid ink tagliolini with oyster and tomato (above)

(C) Risotto (above) – I decided to go with one of the specials; Risotto with scallop and truffle.

(D) Roasted kinka porc loin (+ ¥500) (above)

4) Dessert with options of:-


(A) Shaved ice with strawberry sauce (above)

5) Drink, Complimentary (above) – Now, I didn’t realise 3 drinks was included in my ¥17,000 course. Before I was shown the menu, the staff asked if I wanted to drink which I responded with a “water please”. And although I had the menu later, I failed to notice the fine prints stating ‘including 3 glasses drinks’. It was only towards the middle of my dinner while messaging a friend that I realised my mistake. And so, with my dessert, I requested for a sweet wine and was served this.

And for my dinner, I had to top up additional ¥3089 (including tax and service charge). Would I recommend K+? A big yes. And honestly… I couldn’t think of a better place if one is craving for (good) food late into the night too. Till today, I am still thinking about the other dishes that I didn’t get to try from their menu. Although if I had a chance to re-select my choices, I would give the jelly fish and squid ink tagliolini a miss.

So! Before I get to head down to K+ again, please try the soft cod roe gratin and the spaghetti with whitebait for me. Have only read good reviews about these 2 dishes!

NISHIAZABU K+
4-5-8 Nishiazabu, Minato City, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 港区 西麻布 4-5-8)
+81 3 6433 5141, Website, Tablelog
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Thur – Tues: 18:00 – 02:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Wed

Lunch @ 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana (Hong Kong)

November 3, 2018 in Italian by thywhaleliciousfay

The first meal which my friend and I had in Hong Kong was… *Drum roll* Yes! Italian cuisine at 3 Michelin stars 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana. And to secure our lunch reservation in August, my friend emailed the restaurant in May since the restaurant accepted reservation up to 3 months in advance. Proper Kiasu planning is the key in securing our restaurant reservation. Keke.

My friend and I touched down in Hong Kong in mid morning, and immediately headed to the restaurant for our lunch. Coming out from exit H of Central MTR station, we went up to level 2 of the building that’s directly beside the exit where 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana was located at.


Interior (Picture Credit: Link)

Upon seated, we were given the set menu (pages 1, 2) and a-la carte menu (pages 1, 2, 3). My friend and I were pretty quick with our order-taking because prior to our visit, we had already decided to order the degustation menu. Keke. And with that, we started our degustation 8½ (HKD1680) lunch with:-


1) Bread platter, Complimentary (above)


2) Amuse bouche, Complimentary (above) – Lorenzini melon and Mangalica black hundok Ham.

3) Sourdough bread, Complimentary (above) – Was surprised when we were presented with more bread. But no complaints since I love bread!

4) Marinated tuna tartare (above) – Citrus and tofu emulsion, royal oscietra caviar.


5) Warm blue lobster (above) – Broccolini emulsion, lobster jus.


  

6) Homemade tagliolini (above) – Butter, parmesan and “melanosporum” black truffle fondue. Our friends were raving about the pasta and I could finally vouch that the raves are true, now that I tried it for myself. It was so good! The texture of the homemade tagliolini was nothing quite like any homemade pasta I tried, and I absolutely loved it. Simply divine with the sliced truffle and truffle fondue. If I live in Hong Kong, I could totally visualise myself returning (many times) just for this dish.

7) Main with options of:-

(A) Baby lamb from Aveyron (above) – Aromatic herbs, black olive, barley and vegetables. When this was served, I couldn’t help but feel the plating was themed ‘garden’. No? And it’s a first to see such a small lamb rib. It just screamed ‘cute’ to me. Keke.

(B) Short rib & beef tenderloin (above) – Whipped potato, red wine and plum sauce.

8) Dessert with options of:-


  

(A) Grand cru chocolate (above) – Baked chocolate cream, cocoa nougatine and sorbet.

(B) Strawberry (above) – Fresh strawberry, sorbet and vanilla cream.

9) Petit fours, Complimentary (above)

10) Coffee, Complimentary (above) – Went with coffee instead of tea.

11) Chocolate, Complimentary (above) – And just as we thought we came to the end of our lunch with the petit fours and coffee, the staff brought a box of chocolates. And since I love my chocolates and I am bad at choosing, I requested 1 of every flavour. Haha. Greedy me.

It was an enjoyable lunch with great food! And I really liked the ambience of the place too. Although 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana was a fine-dining restaurant where one was required to be dressed appropriately, the atmosphere was comfortable. Ie, not tensed and stuffy. And I also credit that to the approachable, smilely staff who gave such impeccable service.

My friend and I were also in luck to have chef-owner Umberto Bombana in the house during the day of our meal; He’s not always around since he also opened branches of 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Shanghai (2012), Beijing (2013) and Macau (2015). And during our lunch, I kept seeing head chef Bombana. At least 5 times? I suspect the layout/floor plan of the restaurant must be a donut/loop because I only saw him heading back to the kitchen but not of him coming out of the kitchen. Haha. And he reminded me of a gentle polar bear. Don’t ask me why!

Do I recommend Michelin-starred 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana? That’s for sure!

8½ OTTO E MEZZO BOMBANA
18 Chater Road, Landmark Alexandra, Shop 202, Central, Hong Kong
+852 2537 8859, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat: 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat: 18:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun

UPDATE: Restaurant was awarded 3 Michelin stars by Michelin Guide Hong Kong 2019.