Today's assorted sashimi - Chef's selection $45
It's quite a romantic stroll along the waterfront at the Overseas Passenger Terminal. The winking city lights, the toot-toot of ferries and there in the distance: the sleepy sails of the Opera House, curled over as if mid-nap.
Hidden up high on the fourth floor of the Overseas Passenger Terminal is Yukis, accessed by a glass elevator that deposits you onto a vertigo-inducing metal grille walkway.
The long and narrow Japanese restaurant is sparsely decorated, but then who wants distraction when everyone is staring out the window at Sydney Harbour? The dining room is a mix of whispering couples, a Japanese family and a few businessmen dining on their lonesome. I've got my own hot date tonight, and we quickly get cosy with a few glasses of wine (2010 Lleuwin Estate Art riesling from Margaret River for Suze; a 2010 Shaw & Smith sauvignon blanc from the Adelaide Hills for me - each $13 per glass).
Down the end of the restaurant, the sushi chef is a picture of quiet industriousness as he prepares sushi and sashimi to order. We start with the Chef's selection of assorted sashimi, a bountiful offering that includes raw tuna, snapper, salmon belly, kingfish and cooked prawn. Thin slices of raw scallop aren't as sweet as I'd hoped and the salmon roe are a little deflated, but the thick slices of yellowtail have a delicious complexity and satisfying mouthfeel. I'm also a fan of the scored raw squid, a slippery and sticky scroll wrapped up sushi-style around a nugget of silky salmon.
Wagyu beef tataki with ponzu sauce and garlic chips $18
We move onto the wagyu beef tataki next, fine slices of barely seared tender beef. Mixed greens and a citrus ponzu dressing add lightness, but its the crunchy garnish of garlic chips that are the most addictive.
Deep fried soft shell crab and mixed leaf salad with Yukis dressing $20
Deep fried soft shell crab is always a weakness of mine, but here we're disappointed to find more batter than crab, its heavy oiliness overwhelming the flavour of the crab.
Much more successful is the chawanmushi, not listed on the menu but commonly offered as an alternative to vegetarian diners, we're told. We lift the lids of the painted ceramic cups to find a quiver of Japanese egg custard, sweetly fragrant with soy sauce, dashi and mirin. We dig down to the bottom of the cup to reveal hidden treasures of mushroom and prawn. The custard is silky, smooth and elegant, gliding down the throat with ease.
Premium wagyu beef paper hotpot $45
with seasonal vegetables, sesame sauce and soy vinegar
The premium wagyu beef paper hotpot is the undoubted highlight of the evening. Our eyes light up at the spectacle of mouthwatering wagyu beef, graded 7+ and ribboned with luscious fat. And then there is the allure of FIRE, a kerosene burner heating a puddle of dashi stock, held in a waxed paper-lined basket that seems to invite disbelief.
Eight seconds is all it needs to cook, we're told, but really it only takes about four. We immerse the wafer-thin slices of beef for mere moments until the meat just changes colour. Dishes of soy vinegar and sesame seed sauce are available for dipping, but the beef is best enjoyed on its own, meltingly soft and almost buttery.
We cook the mushrooms and vegetables last of all, allowing them to slowly simmer before savouring them with spoonfuls of the sweet and clear dashi stock.
Seared scallop sashimi
We find room for a little more sashimi too - the blowtorched kind - which leads to a serve of scallops and salmon belly lightly flamed on the surface.
Seared salmon belly sashimi
The scallop is again a little disappointingly bland but the salmon belly is a wild adventure, fatty and soft yet smoky and faintly caramelised.
Assorted dessert chef best selection $22
We finish with glasses of syrupy-sweet umeshu plum wine on ice ($7.50) to accompany our assorted dessert platter. Cream abounds in the green tea tiramisu and in the dollop served alongside a trail of diced fruit and a shard of almond tuile.
We find the white sesame blanc manger tastes more like white chocolate than white sesame but we're more fascinated by the lantern on the plate, made from a sheath of white daikon so thin it is practically translucent. The daikon is pinned into a column around a tea light, casting a romantic glow over dessert.
Best suited for business meetings or discreet rendezvous. It's worth ordering the wagyu beef paper hot pot too.
Toshi Nishimura, manager with Yukis' head chef
Grab Your Fork and Chocolatesuze dined as guests of Yukis at the Quay.
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Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Circular Quay - Ocean Room
The Rocks - Nakashima
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7/22/2011 01:39:00 a.m.