Nestled within suburbia on Craigend Street in Sydney's Darlinghurst, the entrance to Rise is virtually unmarked but for a small gold plaque with the Rise logo. We were here to sample the much-lauded and heralded omakase, or degustation menu. Omakase, meaning 'I leave it to you', gives free rein to acclaimed chef Raita Noda, providing patrons with a 9-course selection of carefully crafted mouthfuls of gastronomic gratification. At only 28 years old, Noda has already worked with Matsukaze at Chifley Plaza and the ANA's Unkai and has been flagged as one of Sydney's hottest chefs.
Even with such a lead-up, we still weren't disappointed with the varied, exciting and extensive array of dishes presented. Using only the freshest, tastiest ingredients, Noda accentuates and contrasts individual flavours, aromas and textures. Noda pushes the chopstick yet always exercises masterful restraint. He never loses sight of the essence of each dish, and had us all tasting intently and with renewed vigour.
Deep fried soft-shell crab tacos RISE style (signature dish)
A big crowd pleaser, the crab was crisp, crunchy and sinfully spicy. Finely shredded spring onions and bean sprouts provided a cleansing contrast.
Another must-try, the sake slushee has a potent alcoholic kick.
Australian wagyu beef tataki served with spicy shallot and leek salad
The millisecond searing combined with perfect marbling meant this mouthful was tender, juicy and carnivorously satisfying. The creamy sauce and accompanying salad matched the clean meatiness perfectly.
Clear broth with tofu, mochi (sticky rice cake), zucchini and fried jewfish
Salty, sweet and slightly gelatinous, this broth provided added sustenance and a contrast of textures. The jewfish had a firm texture, the fresh mochi provided a satisfyingly starchy chewiness, and beautifully delicate shreds of refreshing ginger floated throughout.
Market sashimi: tuna, kingfish and oyster with lemon dressing
The tuna and kingfish were both undeniably fresh--firm yet tender and flavoursome. The delicate lemon dressing married subtly with the untouchably tasty Sydney Rock.
Scampi sashimi with savoury jelly; yellowtail (bonito) sashimi on marinated eggplant; avocado with wasabi "capuccino-style"
The scampi spoonful provided a slippery explosion of tasty flavours and was one of my favourites for its delicacy and texture.
The bonito was matched well with the eggplant and a tiny shard of mint.
The cappucino provided the table's greatest source of disagreement--many found the texture and flavour combination too much of a challenge. Personally I loved it--a huge wasabi fan, I delighted in the strong wasabi flavour without the usual accompanying sinus-clearing effect. And just like a cappucino, the 'froth' at the top seemed lighter in flavour, allowing one to graduate into a slightly stronger wasabi flavour further down. Light, frothy and indulgently airy, this was my other favourite for the evening. The roe garnish was also savoured with delight.
Deep fried "agedashi" hydroponic tomato stuffed with foie-gras (signature dish)
Another source of wide-eyed wonder, at first most of us stared fascinated at the paper thin shreds atop the tomato, which gently moved and convulsed as the freshly fried tomato cooled. Eating this was a tricky affair as most preferred to dig this one open to see what was inside. The tomato coating was thin, sticky, fried yet gelatinous and fairly sweet. The tomato encased two small cubes of foie-gras. Next time I would definitely try and eat this in a few quick mouthfuls.
Crispy tuna with zucchini flower and mashed potato
Noda's twist on the ubiquitous 'meat and three veg', the tuna had been prepared with apparent great care-- crispy coating on the outside yet remainingly gloriously rare inside. The tempura zucchini flower was tasty and delicate, although I did find the batter a little heavier than normal.
Ochasuke (rice with green tea) with shio-yaki (salted fried salmon)
Ochasuke is apparently commonly served at the conclusion of a Japanese banquet. One suspects this allows those who are not yet satiated to have their fill (much like the fried rice and noodles at course 8 of a Chinese wedding banquet). Yet the complex simplicity of this dish is not to be denied. The salmon was mouthwateringly tender, moist and tasty--a heartwarmingly delicate shade of pinky orange. The tea was cleansing and the delicate rice cracker balls gave a pleasing contrasting crunch.
Most of us were sufficiently satiated by this point to have room only to taste the rice, not consume it all.
Pink grapefruit with sorbet and clear jelly
By now we were reaching saturation point and this light and cleansing dessert was just what the doctor ordered. Even here Noda takes great care to showcase the tart sweetness and delicate texture of the grapefruit. The jelly added sweetness and comparison in texture, whilst the sorbet provided a refreshing palate cleanser.
The food here is out of this world and incredible value for a paltry $35. The half-price degustation offer is only valid on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays with sittings at 6.30pm and 8.30pm.
Noda confirmed to us that he will be opening his second restaurant Ocean Club at the overseas passenger terminal at the Quay. He maintained that both restaurants would remain open although one does wonder about the future of Rise.
23 Craigend Street
Darlinghurst, Sydney NSW 2010
Tel : 02 9357 1755
Related GrabYourFork posts:
Rise, Darlinghurst (May 2005)
Rise, Darlinghurst (February 2005)
Ocean Room, Sydney
Cooking session with Raita Noda, Ocean Room
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8/31/2004 11:59:00 p.m.