Dinner @ Shiki (Sydney, Australia)

November 15, 2020 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

I would normally receive reminder texts prior to my dinners (in Australia). So I felt a little awkward not receiving any from Shiki. Had to double check my mail to make sure I didn’t remember my reservation detail wrongly! And I arrived at Shiki punctually at 6pm. But was surprised when no one arrived by 6.05pm. And at 6.06pm, I watched the staff call the latecomers; One was going to be late, while the other group said they had called previously to cancel their booking. I know, I am nosey observant just like that. Ha!

So just like that, a sushi counter which could sit 6 was barely filled on the night of my dinner; There were just 2 customers (including me). And because the other customer was very late (she only arrived at 6.20pm), head chef Hyota Sugihara kickstarted my dinner first. As there was no physical menu, he started off by saying the omakase course consist of appetiser, grilled fish, nigiri sushi and hotpot. And with that, I commenced my omakase dinner, AUD160 with:-


1) Dish #1 (above) – Egg custard (chawanmushi) with salmon roe and sea urchin. And yes, the sea urchin was steamed with the egg custard rather than being placed after. After (being) steamed, the urchin didn’t have its distinct ‘raw’ taste. Instead, it was almost… Bland? So instead, I was forced to focus on its texture. And I could taste (or should I say feel) the lumpy, grainy texture of the sea urchin. Really interesting. Head chef Hyota san further shared he previously did truffle with the steamed egg custard. But because truffle season had ended, it’s now done with urchin.

2) Dish #2, Complimentary (above) – This was a bonus (complimentary) appetiser. And if I didn’t hear wrongly, head chef Hyota san mentioned the Japanese name of the fish as hata. He went on to explain he intentionally chose barcod (a chewy fish) so that we would chew more and get more flavour from the truffle oil. And the sauce oddly reminded me of Sushi Tei dressing. But don’t get me wrong… This dish was great. Loved it.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Imperador collar.

  
  
  
  

4) Dish #4 (above) – Imperador (from the back and served slightly warm), imperador belly with caviar, belly form a 220kg sword fish, diced squid infused with shiso leaf, barcod (hata) and kombu, lean tuna (akami), medium fatty tuna (chutoro) and premium fatty tuna (otoro). It being late September, head chef Hyota san shared we were at the end of tuna season. But because of COVID, fishes couldn’t be exported to Japan, So yes, we were lucky because that meant there was stock of high quality tuna which head chef Hyota san managed to get his hands on for us. Yeah!

5) Dish #5 (above) – 4 big tongues of violet sea urchin from Tasmania. So sweet! And the sweetness was further enhanced by the pink salt. Such a treat!

  
  

6) Dish #6 (above) – Bonito belly (foreground) and bonito back (background) with homemade ponzu sauce, swordfish marinated with shiraz & soya sauce, scampi with champagne gold and red finger limes, and upside-down scampi with scampi-truffle sauce. I especially enjoyed this leg of the nigiri sushi assortment. The swordfish was really interesting. Each bite brought burst of different in-depth flavours. And for the scampi, was told this was served ‘upside down’ intentionally so that the scampi came in contact with our tongues first. And that scampi-truffle sauce… It was so good. I shamelessly picked the dish up to slurp it all. Just shy of licking it. Keke.


  

7) Dish #7 (above) – Blood orange oyster. Was told the oyster was boiled in salt water for 15 seconds, dunked in cold water, and seasoned with pink salt since the previous steps would have removed all saltiness.

8) Dish #8 (above) – Black lip abalone, paired with a sweet sauce made with abalone and sake. And for this, the abalone was boiled in sake for 5 hours before it’s steamed for another 5 hours. And I loved how the abalone slices were cut thickly. In fact, it’s also head chef Hyota san’s intention with the thicker slices; To allow us to have more to chew on.

9) Dish #9 (above) – Ocean trout and imperador. Head chef Hyota san shared he prefer ocean trout over salmon because it’s less oily. But I personally prefer oily fish for aburi (torched/slightly grilled). So if I had to choose, my vote goes to imperador!


10) Dish #10 (above) – Handroll of squid, sea urchin and salmon roe. This was huge!


11) Dish #11 (above) – Egg omelette (tamago) with sushi rice. One of head chef Hyota san’s signature. And it was amazing! So much love for this. It was like a soufflé; Soft, fluffy, moist and sweet. I normally stick to what’s on the menu, but for this… I just had to request for another piece. And because one group of customers didn’t turn up, head chef Hyota san was able to offer me more. And bigger piece too. In fact, he also gave extra piece of his tamago to the other customer. So nice of him!


12) Dish #12 (above) – I certainly didn’t expect the soup component of the menu to be so elaborate. I mean, hotpot shabu-shabu style! Wow. And for the fishes, we were given premium fatty tuna (otoro), barcod (hata) and ocean trout. Head chef Hyota san even asked if I wanted more (fish). But I had to turn him down politely because I was full.

13) Dish #13 (above) – Homemade matcha cake and red bean paste (anko).

It was a very fun dinner. I enjoyed myself tremendously. Head chef Hyota san and his assistant were very friendly and approachable. And I especially liked head chef Hyota san’s bold interpretation and unique take on sushi. Especially with the pink salt. It’s definitely a first to see sushi placed on slabs of pink salt. We even got to bring our salt slab home because a new slab is used for every customer.

A Japanese regular joined us later at the sushi counter (he was having the sushi course and not the omakase course). And as he enjoyed his sushi, he would often tell head chef Hyota san his sushi was as good as Ginza sushi. Well… That may be a little exaggerated, but I guess it depends on which Ginza store the Japanese regular was referring to. But!!! When head chef Hyota san served his tamago, I too couldn’t help but tell head chef Hyota san “this is better than Ginza”.

Unfortunately… As I share my dining experience at Shiki, it’s their last day of operation today (15 November ’20). And yes, I’m really bummed about it. After my meal at Shiki in late September, I had been checking out the (third party) reservation website because I wanted to book my next meal. Instead, I saw the announcement on their instagram account that they will be closed permanently. Sigh. I even tried to request if I could order the tamago as ‘take away’ but was told it’s only available for the omakase. Double sigh.

But somehow… This doesn’t feel like it’s the end for Shiki. I have a weird strong inkling that head chef Hyota san will be back. Fingers crossed.

SHIKI JAPANESE RESTAURANT
35 Harrington Street, The Rocks, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 9252 2431, Website
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sun : 17:30 – 21:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon
** Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.