Dinner @ Sushi E (Sydney, Australia)

January 19, 2021 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

After arriving in Sydney in 2019, I embarked on my unofficial big (and maybe even ambitious) plan to dine at as many sushi-yas as I could in Australia Sydney that offered omakase. I used the words ‘unofficial plan’ because it’s really my love for sushi that sent me on my hunt for good sushi. And of course, my other love to try new places. Keke.

And no thanks to COVID-19, my overseas stint in Sydney (2019 to 2021) could be categorised as ‘pre-COVID lockdown’ and ‘post-COVID lockdown’. Some of my ‘pre-COVID lockdown’ omakase meals included Jizakana, Osaka Bar, Sushi E and Harada. And my dinner reservation at Sushi E was done via Sushi E’s website. Sushi E offered table seats, and counter seats for both omakase and non-omakase menus. So one should make sure ‘omakase’ is indicated when making one’s reservation.

Located on the fourth floor of the building, I initially thought I was at the wrong place after stepping out of the lift because the restaurant signage that came into sight was for Hemmesphere. It was only as the receptionist led me to the sushi counter, then did I realise Sushi E shared the unit space with Hemmesphere.

The sushi counter was big and looked like it could cater to many people for the omakase course. However reality was that only a small section of the rectangular-shaped counter island was allocated for omakase. Upon seated, the staff confirmed my dietary restriction for no beef. For drinks, I chose not to go with the wine pairing, but stuck to my iced green tea. And it was nice that the waiting staff gave me a glass of water even though I mentioned I was good with just my green tea. :)

Once everyone arrived (there were 5 of us that night), chef Wai Ha Chuen introduced himself before going on to mention our omakase course comprised 5 entrees (from the kitchen), 10 sushi, a main course and 2 desserts. And with that, I commenced my omakase dinner, AUD150 with:-


  

1) Dish #1 (above) – Pommes soufflé with scallop (hotate) tartare and caviar, and choux puff with Tasmania sea urchin and creme fraiche. I really enjoyed these.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Aged alfonsino. And it’s interesting that 1 of the toppings was blood orange.

  

3) Dish #3 (above) – Cold dish of somen, (raw) scampi, salmon roe in scampi dashi and scampi oil. This was really good.


4) Dish #4 (above) – Dashi-flavoured steamed egg (chawanmushi) with spanner crab. And we were told the crab was boiled with salt water before the flesh was removed from the shell.

5) Dish #5 (above) – Scampi prawn grilled over binchotan charcoal, and served with seaweed butter.

  
  
  
  
  

6) Dish #6 (above) – Pink snapper with kombu, 7-days aged medium fatty tuna (chutoro), squid (ika) and urchin with shaved egg yolk and lime, John Dory with salt, aged alfonsino, salmon belly with spicy radish and shiso leaf, scallop with shaved sea urchin, scampi with burnt miso butter, kingfish belly with miso and finger lime, and slow cooked egg yolk with caviar. And yah, was slightly bummed that the yolk had burst when it was served. That said, chef Wai made all 5 pieces before serving them to us. I personally preferred sushi to be given/served after every piece was made. But that’s me… And unfortunately, I didn’t particularly like the sushi rice (shari) too. There was something about its seasoning. Hmm…


  

7) Dish #7 (above) – What’s on the omakase menu for the main was a beef donburi. However, mine was replaced with koji fish because of my dietary requirement. And my koji fish definitely paled in comparison when compared against the beef. So while I noticed from instagram that chef Wai usually presented the beef on the rice in the claypot… He presented the beef separately on a plate for the other 4 customers to take pictures that night. And I appreciated that because we were served mushroom rice from that one claypot.

9) Dish #8 (above) – Palette cleanser with raspberry sorbet being the key ingredient.


9) Dish #9 (above) – Mandarin, yuzu milk and yuzu marmalade sandwiched between wafer biscuits (monaka).

So what stood out from my meal at Sushi E was that dishes of our omakase course was prepared (and served) by 2 chefs. Dishes prepared at the sushi counter were by sushi chef Wai while dishes coming from the kitchen were by head chef Michael Fox. So yes, dinner felt like it was a collaboration between Japanese and European. Best of both worlds? Keke.

Dining experience was unfortunately slightly marred by the draggy bill process. But that of course had nothing to do with the chefs. And I usually make payment in cash, but I forgot to withdraw sufficient cash that night. So my bill came up to AUD159.65 (including credit card surcharge) instead of AUD158. Of which, AUD8 was for the iced green tea. And I know… The difference is just less than AUD2. But I don’t like the idea of upfront card surcharge. Hee.

Would I recommend Sushi E? Well… If one is looking for an authentic Japanese omakase dining experience, other sushi-yas would come to my mind. But if one is looking for a fun (ie, not strictly Japanese) meal, Sushi E would be an option! Cause I’ll be upfront honest… But going to Sushi E with the anticipation of a Japanese (omakase) meal, I left the restaurant enjoying the dishes that came out of the kitchen more. Oops.

SUSHI E
Level 4, 252 George Street, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 9114 7314, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Botanic Gardens Restaurant (Adelaide, Australia)

January 14, 2021 in Australian, European by thywhaleliciousfay

Awarded with 1 hat by Australia Good Food Guide (2020), I was attracted to checking out Botanic Gardens Restaurant (BGR) because of the fact that the restaurant was located within a botanical garden. When I was making my booking through their website, I imagined taking a nice long stroll in Adelaide Botanic Garden before heading into the restaurant for my dinner. Uh huh… I visualised a scenic image.

And on the day of my dinner, I received a text message earlier in the afternoon informing me that the sole entry into Adelaide Botanic Garden was through Friends Gate. Definitely very handy. So while I was supposed to reach a little earlier than my dinner appointment time to explore the botanical garden, I ended up running behind time instead. Boohoo. So while I was supposed to be enjoying the sun set, I ended up walking in darkness and was welcomed by sights of bats flying among the tall tress enroute to the gate.

Because I was still feeling full from my very filling lunch (at Topiary Dining), I decided not to go all out. So from the menu, I went with the shorter tasting menu. Ie, 5 courses instead of 7. There were options for sides, but I didn’t go for any of those too. And with that, I commenced my 5-courses menu, AUD90 with:-

1) Bread, Complimentary (above) – House made seeded sourdough with cultured butter.


  

2) Snacks (above) – Assortment including i) salanova lettuce, pear, pecorino, walnut, ii) baby cucumber, gribiche, caper berries, iii) Gazander oyster, saltbush, bonito bacon, and iv) Baharat scallop, taramasalata, smoked roe, violet leaf.

3) Smoked hiramasa kingfish (above) – With sheep’s milk yoghurt, peas, nigella seed, curry leaf.

4) Humpty Doo baby barramundi (above) – With crab & prawn, preserved orange, black garlic, buttermilk. Wasn’t too impressed with this dish. I thought the kitchen would do something with the fish skin, but it was presented just as it is; Simply pan fried. I expected more. Or have I been spoilt by most restaurants?

5) Roasted eggplant (above) – With kelp, turnip, king brown mushrooms, green elk. And to cater to my dietary restriction, I was told the beef dish was replaced with this dish of eggplant. What!?! I preferred if they replaced it with another meat dish. And the eggplant was a very big portion. I didn’t finish it. Probably because I wasn’t excited about the taste too.

6) Chestnut cake (above) – With apple, rosemary, apple ice cream, candided chestnut, creme fraiche. Texture wise, the cake was slightly sticky with some crunchy bits. Loved this!

7) Petit fours (above) – Salted caramel with sea salt.

8) Latte, AUD4.50 (above)

The food at Botanic Gardens Restaurant was average. It failed to impress. A real pity. But I enjoyed myself nonetheless thanks to the wonderful staff. While I wouldn’t say Botanic Gardens Restaurant is worth making a special trip for, I say one may consider popping by the restaurant if one intends to visit Adelaide Botanic Garden and would like to have meal that’s not too far away. I loved the restaurant’s interior and could imagine how beautiful the venue would be during the day.

BOTANIC GARDENS RESTAURANT
Plane Tree Drive, Botanic Gardens of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia
+61 8 8223 3526, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Thur – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Thur – Sat : 18:30 – 21:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon, Tues & Wed
** Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.

Dinner @ Topiary Dining (Adelaide, Australia)

January 11, 2021 in Australian, European by thywhaleliciousfay

Topiary Dining wasn’t in my initial ‘meal planning’ for my second trip to Adelaide. I had intended to use that ’empty meal slot’ to rest my stomach. I know… Like what was I thinking. But during the trip and on the night before (my empty meal slot), I got uneasy. Haha. Was thinking to myself what a shame it would be if I didn’t fully make use of my ‘meal slots’.

And remembering a friend recommended Topiary before, I quickly searched for information on Topiary’s reservation process. Although I wasn’t sure what got into me then because I didn’t make my booking via online booking system that same night. I think I was worried if my booking was too last minute since some restaurants only prepare enough ingredients based on secured reservations. But thankfully, when I gave the restaurant a call at 10am to make lunch reservation for the same day, the staff was able to accept my booking. :)

It was a good thing the restaurant started operation early at 9am because it’s quite a long journey to Topiary from Adelaide city centre. Almost 2 hours! Including waiting time to board the second bus from Tea Tree Plaza Interchange to Tea Tree Gully city, and a 10 minutes walk (on a hiking trail) to the restaurant.

Although I have to say the journey to Topiary was pretty cool. Although long, it allowed me to experience O-Bahn Busway; A guided busway part of the bus rapid transit system. A system first conceived to enable buses to avoid traffic congestion by sharing tram tunnels in the German city of Essen.


Indoors

Between indoors and verandah, I opted for the latter as my preference of seating. But unfortunately it was raining on the day of my meal. So while I was still able to sit at the enclosed verandah, I wasn’t able to enjoy the view as much because of the rain shield. View of the (small) garden and patio with the overhanging plants. But don’t get me wrong… The indoors was charming too. I liked how a touch of nature was given to each table. For the day that I dined in, rosemary was used.


Verandah

Topiary offered 2 courses (AUD45), 3 courses (AUD60) and tasting menus. And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3), I ordered the tasting menu (journey), AUD140 which comprised of:-

1) Bread and crackling (above) – Wood-fired sourdough served with 2 types of butter. I thought the butter with crackling was pretty interesting.


  

2) Snack #1 (above) – Fried haloumi topped with ricotta and watermelon, and pork rillette wrapped within nasturtium. And the pork was batter fried such that it was (slightly) crisp on the exterior but soft within. The attention to details. Wow.

3) Snack #2 (above) – Chicken liver pate on cracker.


4) Snack #3 (above) – Smoked mackerel with abalone sauce.

5) Smoked mussel crumpet (above) – With mussel water mayonnaise, citrus marmalade and sour fennel.


6) Our ham and blackberry jam (above) – Paired with beetroot and hung goat’s yogurt.


  

7) Whipped house feta buried in brassica (above) – Was told to mix the salad up as there was pickled white onion, wild garlic flowers, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts under the crispy brassica. But I thought the dish was a little sour. Probably due to the dressing.

8) Pork with spring peas and beans (above) – Whole broad bean pod ghanoush, fresh pea and bean salsa dressed in allium vinaigrette. This was meant to be beef. But it was replaced with pork due to my dietary restriction. And the grilled aroma from the charred peas was really strong and fragrant. Pity about the pork which was on the fattier end.

9) Fair fish with Riverland asparagus (above) – With peasant’s bisque mousse and Riverland asparagus poached in smoked tomato butter.

10) Lambs neck and nasturtium (above) – With celeriac cream, nasturtium oil and juice, and dried lamb’s liver.


11) Mushroom macaron (above) – Was told that the macaron was made with Swiss brown mushroom. But the mushroom-ing didn’t just stop there. The cream sandwiched between the (macaron) biscuits had pine mushroom, and the macaron was further dusted with Swiss brown mushroom powder.


  

12) Colleens lemons and rosemary (above) – And the staff shared that the dessert was created to thank a neighbour who gave the restaurant rosemary and lemons from her property. Cake was unfortunately a little dry, but manageable when eaten with the rosemary-infused panna cotta or the lemon curd ice cream.

13) Latte, AUD4.50 (above) – And to end my meal, I ordered skinny latte for myself.

It was only after my meal that I realised Australia Good Food Guide (not to be confused as being awarded with hat) recommend another dessert dish called ‘Fallen Leaves’. It was on the menu, but not included in the the tasting menu. I probably could have requested to switch or order additional, but… I guess I only have myself to blame for not doing my homework prior to my meal. Sob.

Lunch at Topiary was nice. But the food didn’t exactly wow me though. So taking into consideration that the restaurant was a little far out (maybe not so if one drives), Topiary wouldn’t be in my Top 3 for recommendation in Adelaide.

TOPIARY DINING
1361 North East Road, Tea Tree Gully, Adelaide, SA, Australia
+61 8 8263 0818, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sun : 09:00 – 15:00
Ambience: 7
Sat : 18:00 – 20:30
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.