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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Azuma Kushiyaki, Sydney - Sugar Hit 2009

East Meets West Dessert Tasting Plate $20
Sydney International Food Festival Sugar Hit - Azuma Kushiyaki

We are suitably excited. Our first Sugar Hit for 2009.

You would not think that we had just eaten a dinner of dumplings, of pan-fried buns, of crab in salted egg yolk and crisp and golden shallot pancake.

And yet a short car-ride from Ashfield to the City followed by a mad dash through the driving rain will do wonders for the appetite. At least, that's our excuse.

We arrive to to the subdued Japanese tranquility of Azuma Kushiyaki. The restaurant is three-quarters full at 9.30pm on a Friday night, and although there seems to be an army of waitstaff, it takes some time before our order is taken (four Sugar Hits please). We'd been pre-advised that the Sugar Hit arrived on a set of two trays, but even so, our eyes still light up with childlike glee when we see the square boxes depart from the kitchen.

Alas they are not ours.

It's a long stretch of twenty minutes before our desserts arrive, but when they do, we're as excited as a six-year-old waking up on Christmas morning.

Mochi glutinous rice cake served with kinako (soy bean powder topping),
vanilla ice cream and Japanese brown sugar syrup

Described as an East Meets West dessert platter, we delight at the matching dark brown wooden boxes, one of which is resting on a base with a tall angular wooden handle. The trays are stackable tiers, but presented separately on this occasion.

"I want to pack my lunch in one of those! Can you imagine how much fun that would be?" I exclaim.

Yas nods excitedly. "That's exactly what I was thinking!"

Ice cream annointed with the Japanese brown sugar syrup

We all end up starting with the shot glass of vanilla ice cream. Two grapes have been beheaded to remove their seeds. A crumble of kinako soy bean powder adds a malty nuttiness. We're instructed to pour some of the Japanese brown sugar syrup on top and then stir until combined. The syrup is sweet and bitter. Digging into the creamy depths of ice cream we find two snow white balls of mochi, dumplings of pounded rice cake that are satisfyingly chewy.

Green tea rolled cake with chestnuts

Green tea rolled cake is my favourite. The swiss roll is intoxicating with the strong flavour of matcha, the soft delicate sponge sandwiched with cream and interspersed with chunks of chestnut.

Nori seaweed langue de chat biscuits

The Japanese take on cats' tongues, thin brittle sugar cookies with flecks of seaweed, aren't as exciting as they first appear. The biscuits have only a very mild taste of seaweed, and part of me wishes there was either more seaweed or a sprinkle of salt added to make them shine.

Brown Brothers 2008 orange muscat flora

Our included dessert wine is the Brown Brothers 2008 orange muscat flora, a reliable sticky that is served in beautiful O-Reidel glasses.

Belgian chocolate mousse

Our dessert journey continues with the Belgian chocolate mousse. The square of fluffy mousse has a pleasing cocoa flavour, the sweetness from the squiggle of chocolate syrup offset by the strawberry fan garnish.

Vanilla cheesecake

I'm not usually a fan of gelatin-based cheesecakes, but this lighter-than-air version of vanilla cheesecake wins me over. Almost pure white in colour, the cheesecake is ethereal in texture, the kind of delicacy you want to savour slowly, with a teaspoon. Its crown of raspberries and blueberry is elegant and generous too.

East Meets West Dessert Tasting Plate $20

We love this Sugar Hit offering from Azuma. It's different, classy and makes us feel special.

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Azuma Kushiyaki on Urbanspoon

Azuma Kushiyaki
Ground floor, Regent Place
501 George Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9267 7775

Sugar Hits are on offer at selected hotels and restaurants every night in October as part of the Sydney International Food Festival. To avoid disappointment, bookings for all Sugar Hits are strongly recommended.

Check out the full list of available Sugar Hits for 2009.

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Good Food Month 2008: Sugar Hit Challenge - Is it possible to eat FIVE Sugar Hits in one night?
Good Food Month 2008: Sugar Hit at Kings Cross Hotel
Good Food Month 2008: Night Noodle Markets

And because gluttony loves company, we find ourselves at Gelatto Messina in search of second dessert. We'd heard there was gingerbread ice cream on offer.

Unfortunately there's no gingerbread flavour available when we stop by, but we do marvel at the three display cabinets filled with unusual gelato varieties. I choose banana bread flavour which is chock-full of banana bread cubes but a little too overwhelming with the intensity of banana flavour. Poached figs in marsala syrup is sweet and creamy with bits of fig scattered throughout.

Banana bread gelato and figs poached in marsala gelato

We taste-test each other's scoops of gelato: baklava is for the rosewater fans; chocolate fondant is rich; apple pie has overtones of cinnamon and nutmeg; and dulce de leche has an odd but intriguing salty aftertaste.

Yas is the only sensible one, choosing the lighter flavours of blood orange, and lychee with coconut. They're both fruity and refreshing.

We'd only just made closing time, but two teenage boys after us don't quite make it. Their pleas for ice cream are accompanied by the melodic wail of a harmonica that suddenly emerges from their back pocket. For some reason Suze and I find this hilariously funny. I think it was the sugar talking.

Blood orange gelato

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Gelato Messina Darlinghurst on Urbanspoon

Gelato Messina
Shop 1/241 Victoria St
Darlinghurst, NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 83541223

Opening times:
Sunday to Thursday 12pm to 11pm

Friday and Saturday 12pm to 11.30pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Ice cream - French Riviera, Sydney (24+ scoops of ice cream)
Ice cream - LNC Dessert House, Sydney
Ice cream - Passionflower, Capitol Square, Sydney
Ice cream - Passionflower, Pavilion Plaza, Sydney
Ice cream - Smile Korea Mart, Sydney (32cm high soft serve)

PS. Remember my post where Matt Preston confessed he read Grab Your Fork but said he he'd never leave a comment?

Matt Preston left a comment.

Now if he can leave a comment, surely anything is possible!
19 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 10/07/2009 01:01:00 am


  • At 10/07/2009 6:51 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great post love the little cake and the gilato looks amazing

  • At 10/07/2009 10:37 am, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    This is definitely the best value for money Sugar Hit I've seen so far. I can see why Richard already been there twice.

  • At 10/07/2009 10:52 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Ohhhhh my god banana bread gelato!! That is the best flavour I've heard in a long time. Hurrah for second dessert!

  • At 10/07/2009 11:35 am, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    I wanted to go to Azuma Kushiyaki for Sugar Hit on public holiday Monday but was told they were closing early that night and not offering it!

    Must. Try. Again...

  • At 10/07/2009 11:37 am, Anonymous Jacq said…

    I went to gelato messina 2 weeks ago hoping for gingerbread gelato but they didn't have it that night either =( I did try the chocolate fondant and dulce de leche though - both absolutely delicious! And congrats on your first comment from Matt Preston!!

  • At 10/07/2009 11:58 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    bwahhahaa the harmonica players has such skillz! i want to learn to play now!

  • At 10/07/2009 12:20 pm, Anonymous Belle@OohLook said…

    Such delightful presentation, and I love how you say the ice cream is 'anointed' with the syrup!

  • At 10/07/2009 12:46 pm, Anonymous clekitty said…

    Oh wow! That Sugar Hit looks great, I reckon it's pretty good value for $20. I love reading your blog, if it wasn't for you I would never have discovered how marvelous Sydney is for hungry food addicts!

  • At 10/07/2009 1:49 pm, Anonymous Teresa said…

    The Sugar Hit looks amazing! I wish they offered it during the day...it would be nice to wander down there and have dessert for lunch! I clearly need to find new friends....preferably ones who will eat at least 1 dessert (although I would prefer 2!). Even the BF 'doesn't like sweets'. Dull.

  • At 10/07/2009 3:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow...can not believe a dinner of dumplings, Sugar Hit and gelato! What a fantastic evening! Where do you put it all? The Sugar Hit looks amazing...I will definately try this one out!


  • At 10/08/2009 1:13 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Pina Colada Kissses - Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. Dessert is always a highlight!

    Hi Billy - We were all really impressed with the generous offering. I loved the presentation of it too - such care and thoughtfulness.

    Hi Stephcookie - Ha, yes the banana bread gelato was so intriguing. I'm still hanging out for gingerbread gelato though!

    Hi Mademoiselle Delicieuse - Oh what a pity - I didn't realise that some places weren't offering the Sugar Hit on public holidays. We've been turned away a few times in the past, so I always pre-book Sugar Hits to avoid being disappointed. Definitely recommend you try again - it's worth it!

    Hi Jacq - Gingerbread gelato sounds so Christmassy doesn't it? Will certainly purse the elusive gingerbread flavour, and lol, thanks! It was pretty cool!

    Hi Chocolatesuze - Yes they made it seem like so much fun. I can imagine our neighbours not liking it much though. lol

    Hi Belle - lol. There's always such a lovely sense of ceremony with Japanese food - it does feel like a religious experience!

    Hi Clekitty - This is probably one of the most impressive Sugar Hits I've ever had. Glad you're discovering some new eats in Sydney - there's plenty more that is just waiting to be eaten!

    Hi Teresa - A Sugar Hit for lunch - now you're talking! I'm presuming Sugar Hits have been designed to fill up tables vacated by dinner patrons, and no sweet tooth friends? Surely a beautiful offering like this might tempt some :)

    Hi Noodlehead - That's the problem with hanging out with food bloggers - self-control goes out the window! We don't eat by halves, but yes it's always much fun. Am sure you will enjoy Azuma - make sure you book!

  • At 10/08/2009 12:23 pm, Anonymous TimTam said…

    Oh wow.. That looks great! Thanks for the review!

  • At 10/08/2009 12:45 pm, Anonymous Leona said…

    Ive been really bad with looking through the SIFF events. Ive looked numerous times and been overwhelmed with where to start. O_O all these things to do in soo little time :(

  • At 10/08/2009 10:55 pm, Anonymous Simon said…

    The sugar hit at Azuma was so worth it. Though why it took 20 mins to get room temp desserts eludes me entirely.

    Gotta make my way back to Gelato Messina at some stage, though next time I'll do without the baklava. The apple pie, banana cake and blood oranged rocked!

    The "blues brothers" were a funny bunch :)

  • At 10/09/2009 2:16 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi TimTam - It was all so very elegant and delicious. Glad you enjoyed it!

    Hi Leona - The SIFF schedule is jam-packed with things to do. It's so exciting to have such a feast of events (lol) to choose from - October is a happy month :)

    Hi Simon - Beauty takes time, grasshopper. lol. We city people, always in a rushrushrush. The wait was more than worth it in the end :)

  • At 10/22/2009 8:38 am, Anonymous The Ninja said…

    I guess I'll just have to sneak in this weekend...now if only I had a shakuhachi to match the harmonicas...

  • At 10/29/2009 10:50 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Ninja - lol. Hope you managed the scale the walls ok!

  • At 11/09/2009 10:32 pm, Anonymous Fun & Fact said…

    I keep want to start this comment with ‘good’ or ‘nice’ or ‘great’ but none of these seems strong enough, or appropriate enough for what you just posted.Just fantastic and mindblowing blog keep it up..!!!

  • At 11/13/2009 5:42 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Fun & Fact - Glad you enjoyed the post :)


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