Dinner @ Sushi Oe (Sydney, Australia)

August 16, 2020 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

What could I say… My quest to eat chef Toshihiko Oe’s sushi hadn’t been easy. But I am so glad I finally had the opportunity to!

And it was actually in Japan where I first met chef Oe san. By a (great) stroke of luck, I sat beside him at Hakkoku during my March/April ’19 trip to Tokyo. But to be very honest, I didn’t recognise chef Oe san. It was only after Hakkoku’s chef-owner Hiroyuki Sato introduced us. Fast forward a few months later, I flew to Sydney in July ’19 for my overseas work stint. But when I tried to make reservation at Masuya (there’s where chef Oe san was working, then), I realised reservation for his omakase menu was fully booked for 2019. Gasp.

Not one to give up easily, I called the restaurant again in 2020. However, my reservation was unsuccessful as I was told they only accepted reservation in pairs. Which I thought was weird because sushi counter is usually the most welcoming to solo diners. Hmm… And before I could find a sushi buddy, Masuya suddenly announced they were putting their omakase menu on hiatus. Double gasp. But I later learnt it’s because chef Oe san had left Masuya Japanese Restaurant to set up Sushi Oe. Woohoo!

And reservation at Sushi Oe is released on the 1st of every month at 9am for the following month on Washoku Lovers. I was extremely lucky with my reservation for August ’20. It was out of the blue that I decided to google up Sushi Oe. And very coincidentally on the day Sushi Oe released seats for August.

Opened officially on 4 August, my reservation was for 13 August (Thursday). And it’s to note Sushi Oe only had 1 seating (6.30pm). However there was no information of their address when I made my reservation. It’s only later that I learnt chef Oe san was taking over the sushi counter in Jizakana. Nice!

So yes! It was with much anticipation that I arrived at Sushi Oe for my dinner. I couldn’t resist spilling the beans and letting chef Oe san know that I was that lady who sat beside him at Hakkoku a year ago. And his expression was priceless. Haha. Too cute! And after all 6 customers arrived, chef Oe san did a brief introduction of his menu. He mentioned his food was more traditional than fusion, which meant it would be an ‘all fish’ menu with no meats. Sounds good to me! Shortly after which, we commenced our omakase dinner, AUD180 with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Oyster.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Slightly boiled octopus topped with mustard. And we were told the octopus was (pre-)marinated for 2 days in soy, sake and sugar.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Swordfish topped with yuzu kosho (fermented condiment made with yuzu and chili). This was another marinated piece. And it’s really interesting because it tasted like ham!

4) Dish #4 (above) – Scallop from Aomori prefecture in Japan. We were told to drink the soup too. Really good.

5) Dish #5 (above) – Bonito from Japan, and topped with garlic.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Instead of telling us what this piece was, chef Oe san asked us to make a guess. Well… It looked like liver and tasted like liver. But I couldn’t guess any further than that because it was really big. And that’s when chef Oe san freed us from the suspense and said “John dory liver.” Like what!!! This had to be a first for me.

7) Dish #7 (above) – Flathead, marinated for 3 hours with kelp (kobujime kochi).

8) Dish #8 (above) – Snow crab innards with miso.

  
  
  
  
  

9) Dish #9 to #18 (above) – Nigiri sushi assortment including sea grouper, yellowtail (not sure if I heard this right), trevally with ginger and scallion, king predator, ruby fish (from Queensland), whiting (not king george whiting), flame-seared (aburi) saikou salmon from New Zealand which chef Oe san also elaborated as the ‘most expensive salmon’, lean tuna (akami), medium fatty tuna (chutoro), and premium fatty tuna; cheek cut (kamatoro). Taking into consideration that it’s a 30-courses menu, chef Oe san started the sushi leg with the size of his sushi rice small. But before he made the second sushi, he asked if we preferred more rice. Of course! Our tuna pieces were from a 17kg tuna from North South Wales, Australia. And chef Oe san shared that he aged the tuna for 5 days. But what baffled me was that from the colour and glistening surfaces, his aged (tuna) pieces looked like they were marinated too. I tried asking chef Oe san if the lean tuna was marinated (ie, akami zuke) but he replied they were (just) aged. Hmm… But don’t get me wrong. The tuna pieces were beautiful and delicious.

10) Dish #19 (above) – Minced tuna and spring onion (negitoro).

  
  

11) Dish #20 to #22 (above) – Continued nigiri sushi assortment of cuttlefish with salt, Japanese cockle (torigai) from Japan and tiger prawn. And I liked how chef Oe san share additional information of his dishes. Chef Oe san mentioned the Japanese cockle was thinner/skinnier than usual because it’s at the end of its season.

  

12) Dish #23 (above) – Geoduck (mirugai). I usually have geoduck raw or slightly boiled (shabu shabu), so this must be yet another first for me where I had it torched!

13) Dish #24 (above) – Black lip abalone from Tasmania. Simmered for 6 hours in kombu and sake, and steamed just before served.

14) Dish #25 (above) – Freshwater eel (unagi) from Japan. Torched, and served with seaweed (nori). Was also told by chef Oe san that he was using the best seaweed.

  

15) Dish #26 to #27 (above) – Salmon roe (ikura), and long spine sea urchin from Tasmania. And I must say the sea urchin was huge. Even longer than my thumb!


16) Dish #28 (above) – Sea eel (anago) from Japan. And I really liked this!

  

17) Dish #29 (above) – Pickled gourd (kanpyo) sushi roll.

18) Dish #30 (above) – Egg omelette (tamago) which chef Oe san mentioned shrimp was used. However, I didn’t really like this. There was a odd confusing aftertaste which I couldn’t put a finger to.

19) Miso soup with mitsuba leaves (above) – Was told red miso was used for the soup. And again, I liked how chef Oe san give us extra bits of information by sharing red miso was used in Osaka while white miso was used in Tokyo.

20) Dessert (above) – Fresh fruits; Cherry, persimmon and plum.

I thoroughly enjoyed chef Oe san’s 30-courses omakase menu. And the thing is… When I was dining at Hakkoku, chef Oe san shared with me that his 30-courses menu was inspired by none other than chef Sato san. So yes, it was pretty cool to sit beside chef Oe san in the restaurant where he got his menu inspiration from (Hakkoku) and be eating sushi made by his inspirator (chef Sato san) together.

And I could sense chef Oe san’s sincerity in the food he dished out at Sushi Oe; Wanting the best for his customers, he used only the best ingredients and equipment. Best seaweed (should have asked what brand. My bad). Best rice cooker. Uh huh! Vermicular no less, which he specially imported from Japan! Best burner. The tip of the AMGH burner was charcoal and there’s no gas smell when it’s used. It was super cute because whenever he used it, chef Oe san would beam while saying “Only here in Australia. Best burner.”

And chef Oe san has big dreams for Sushi Oe. 1 customer asked what’s used in his rice because honestly, chef Oe san’s sushi rice (shari) had a good balance of acidity. And surprisingly, no red vinegar was used. Instead, rice vinegar was used. But what really earned my respect was when he went on to share he aspired to prepare a different batch of rice for his tuna sushi. That’s not possible at the moment because chef Oe san is currently a ‘one man show’ where he does everything on his own. He just have 1 service staff who only assist him during operation hours to take customers’ drink order or clear the plates. So I hope he figures out his logistics arrangement soon so that he could successfully put his plan for Sushi Oe in action.

I also really appreciate how he made the effort to strike and maintain conversations with us. I mean… Establishing connections with customers while handling the dishes single-handedly? That sure isn’t easy.

So yes, I guess it’s no surprise that I highly recommend Sushi Oe. I have already set my alarm for 1 September to remind myself to make booking for October. :)

SUSHI OE
Shop 16, 450 Miller Street, Cammeray, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sat : 18:30 – 22:00
Ambience: 8
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon & Sun