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Friday, January 19, 2018

Fujisaki omakase by Ryuichi Yoshii at Barangaroo, Sydney

Sushi master chef Ryuichi Yoshii presenting his omakase sushi at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney

Sushi master Ryuichi Yoshii is back. The Nagasaki-born sushi chef opened his first Yoshii restaurant in Pyrmont in 1997 before relocating to The Rocks in 2002. Yoshii closed its doors in 2014 but late last year he opened a new set of doors, joining Chef Chui Lee Luk at Fujisaki in Barangaroo.

Fujisaki is the newest restaurant for the Lotus stable (Lotus Dumpling Bar, Lotus Restaurants at The Galeries and Barangaroo, Bing's Bao and Madame Shanghai), self-described as refined, new and modern Japanese.

Dining room at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Dining room

The dining room, put together by Design Clarity, has a sombre Scandinavian feel, mixing wide wooden chairs with velvet banquettes and a glass-caged raw bar that commands the room.

Cocktail at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Cocktail bar 

The cocktail bar is well-stocked. In addition to cocktails and spirits, the drinks list includes over 300 wines and 17 sakes, overseen by sommelier Chris Entwistle.

Sushi chef slicing tuna at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Slicing tuna

The food menu incorporates a comprehensive mix of sushi and sashimi with deep-fried (king brown mushroom tempura, crumbed sardines and prawn kakiage) and dishes cooked on a robata grill (octopus, pipis, flounder in paperbark, lamb rump and Moreton Bay bug).

We'd only had eyes for the omakase by Yoshii, a multi-course meal that puts all the decision-making into the hands of the chef. The omakase must be booked in advance and is priced at $140 or $160 per person. We went with the latter, of course.

Chef Ryuichi Yoshii slicing salmon sashimi at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Chef Ryuichi Yoshii slicing salmon sashimi

Omakase diners score front row seats to Yoshii's prep station. Only five stools line his section of the counter, although six more around the corner are available for standard a la carte.

Chef Ryuchi Yoshii is deep in concentration as we are seated at 6pm. After ordering our drinks (we get a bottle of the 2016 Cotier Gewürztraminer (skin contact) from Mornington Peninsula, Victoria for $68), Chef Yoshii suddenly looks up and says "Are we ready to start?"

We nod.

Tasmanian sea urchin roe with spanner crab and avocado, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Tasmanian sea urchin roe with spanner crab and avocado

A server suddenly appears with glazed bowls containing Tasmanian sea urchin roe with spanner crab and avocado. It's the very best offering of three of my favourite things. What follows is a shameless frenzy of photo snapping. It's beautiful. It's breathtaking. It's perfection. And we haven't even started eating yet.

Extra long Tasmanian sea urchin roe petal, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Sea urchin roe petal

And then after we start eating, I make my dining companion stop so I can take another photo. The length of the sea urchin roe petal is extraordinary.

Do I need to clarify that this was sublime? The subtly sweet flesh of spanner crab. The beautifully ripe but still slightly firm avocado. The briny creaminess of fresh sea urchin roe that immediately transports you out to sea.

Chef Ryuichi Yoshii making a salmon flower at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Chef Ryuichi Yoshii making a salmon flower

While we eat, the sashimi-making show continues in front of us. It's like having a live version of Chef's Table by Netflix. The only thing missing is the dramatic orchestral soundtrack.

Chef Ryuichi Yoshii slicing a daikon sashimi roll at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Slicing a daikon sashimi roll

Chef Ryuichi Yoshii with a daikon sashimi roll at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Chopstick precision

Sashimi by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Our sashimi ready to plate

Sashimi plate by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Sashimi platter by Yoshii

[top row]: Yellow fin tuna with avocado; cuttlefish with nori and cucumber; Japanese tuna belly; John Dory marinated in kombu; Tasmanian long spike sea urchin roe
[bottom row]: Geoduck; daikon roll with tuna, kingfish, salmon and cucumber; salmon rose; bar cod and aburi swordfish; fresh wasabi with carrot butterfly

The sashimi plate yields an artistic assembly of the ocean's bounty. And even though our server runs through everything on the platter, we have to ask twice more for clarification as our short-term memory fails us.

Many of these have been prepared in advance, although some - like the salmon rose and the qaudrant daikon roll with tuna, kingfish, salmon and cucumber - seem unnecessarily over-worked. There's no doubting the supreme freshness of the sashimi, as well as the skilled attention to detail like the coiled carrot spring carrot and the carrot butterfly garnish.

Cuttlefish with nori and cucumber, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Cuttlefish with nori and cucumber

One of my highlights has to be the raw cuttlefish, ever so slightly sticky and sweet, scored for maximum tenderness and wrapped around with nori seaweed and cucumber.

Tasmanian long-spined sea urchin roe, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Tasmanian long spike sea urchin roe

We savour the Tasmanian long-spined sea urchin roe too - slightly brinier and more intense than the first - presented in a scooped out fresh lime.

The accompanying soy sauce is worth a mention too, a housemade soy mixed with bonito and kombu. And we're lucky to have the last of the fresh wasabi of the season, sourced from Tasmania. You can immediately notice the fibrous freshness of wasabi, as well as its more flavoursome - not just harsh - heat.

Duck breast with okra, peppers, swedes and muntries, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Duck breast with okra, peppers, swedes and muntries

Our next dish of duck has been salted and hung for five days before it is slowly cooked over the robata charcoal grill. The bed of noodles on the bottom are actually finely shredded swedes. The duck is succulent with a smoky skin.

A tangy sauce made from muntries, native cranberries that tasty like spicy apples, ties everything together.

Ginger and black grape sorbet with pickled tomato and ume jelly, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Ginger and black grape sorbet with pickled tomato and ume jelly

Ginger and black grape sorbet provides a refreshing palate cleanser. Its icy cold fruitiness is mellow in sweetness, contrasted with tiny cubes of pickled tomato and ume pickled plum jelly.

Chef Ryuichi Yoshii presenting trevally and sand whiting sushi at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Chef Ryuichi Yoshii presenting trevally and sand whiting sushi

And so begins our sushi journey.

Trevally and sand whiting nigiri sushi, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Trevally (front) and sand whiting nigiri sushi

We start with trevally and sand whiting nigiri sushi. It's at this point too that Chef Yoshii switches our soy sauce to a different kind, this one made from three kinds of soy sauce.

Chef Ryuichi Yoshii filleting yellowtail amberjack at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Chef Ryuichi Yoshii filleting yellowtail amberjack

As Chef Yoshii chats to us animatedly throughout the evening, he tells us about his sushi knife that cost him $4,000 in 2001. He sharpens his knives everyday using three different stones, two of which are polishing stones. Oily fish make his knives blunter faster, he explains. He listens to the sound of the knife to know when it is sharp. "They are alive," he says.

We watch wordlessly as he effortlessly fillets a yellowtail amberjack before it is draped over a pillow of hand-shaped sushi rice within minutes.

Yellowtail amberjack and kingfish belly nigiri sushi, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Yellowtail amberjack and kingfish belly nigiri sushi

The yellowtail amberjack has a slight oiliness and we marvel at the lushness of kingfish belly.

Chef Ryuichi Yoshii presenting salmon and bar cod sushi at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Chef Ryuichi Yoshii presenting salmon and bar cod sushi

Salmon nigiri sushi and bar cod nigiri sushi, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Salmon nigiri sushi with daikon and yuzu kosho and
bar cod nigiri sushi with daikon chilli paste

Chef Yoshii adds different garnishes to each sushi, designed to amplify the flavour of each fish. To salmon he adds a pinch of grated daikon with yuzu kosho, a zingy fermented paste made from yuzu peel, chilli and salt.

The mild and slightly sweet bar cod is lifted with a dab of daikon chilli paste.

Chef Ryuichi Yoshii handpressing sushi rice with marlin at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Chef Ryuichi Yoshii handpressing sushi rice with marlin

Watching Chef Yoshii make each piece of sushi is mesmerising, a balletic display of sweeping arms, a nurturing cupped hand and the gentle but firm pressure of two fingers that transform a handful of rice into a precisely shaped pillow.

Chef Ryuichi Yoshii spooning ume and nori glaze onto bonito sushi at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Chef Ryuichi Yoshii spooning ume and nori glaze onto bonito sushi

Bonito nigiri sushi and marlin nigiri sushi, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Bonito nigiri sushi with ume and nori and
marlin nigiri sushi

Bonito isn't as fishy as we expect, but it's still weighty enough in flavour to benefit from a dab of ume and nori paste, a mix of sour plum and seaweed.

Marlin is much milder in flavour with a tenderness reminiscent of tuna.

Chef Ryuichi Yoshii shaping nigiri sushi for tuna ootoro at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Chef Ryuichi Yoshii shaping nigiri sushi for tuna ootoro

As Chef Yoshii works, he explains that his sushi rice is made with akazu red vinegar. Unlike the traditionally used rice vinegar made from rice, red vinegar is made from sake lees, the residual yeast leftover after sake production.

Akazu was the traditional vinegar used to make sushi during the Edomae period, mostly because rice vinegar was more expensive during this time. Akazu is usually aged for three to five years, and its natural sweetness means sugar is usually not required when seasoning sushi rice.

Tuna ootoro nigiri sushi, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Tuna ootoro nigiri sushi

The tuna ootoro is every bit as lusciously fatty as we could hope for. "Melt in the mouth" is a phrase used far too often for my liking, but in this case, it literally does, the heavily marbled protein slowly collapsing into a puddle as soon as it hits your tongue.

Marinated tuna nigiri sushi and cuttlefish nigiri sushi, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Marinated tuna nigiri sushi and
cuttlefish nigiri sushi with irishio Okinawan salt

The softnesss of ootoro is in marked contrast to the perky firmness of marinated tuna as well as the sticky sweetness of cuttlefish. The cuttlefish is sprinkled with irishio, an Okinawan salt that is made by cooking salt with sake.

John Dory nigiri sushi and red spot whiting nigiri sushi, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
John Dory marinated in kombu nigiri sushi with daikon red pepper paste and
Red spot whiting marinated in kombu nigiri sushi

The wondrous translucency of John Dory is obscured only by a tiny dab of daikon mixed with red pepper. Both the John Dory and red spot whiting have been marinated in kombu, imparting an heightened taste of umami savouriness.

Chef Ryuichi Yoshii placing sea urchin roe into cucumber wrapped sushi at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Chef Ryuichi Yoshii placing sea urchin roe into cucumber wrapped sushi

We seem to be having a lot of sushi. We are. The couple next to us have already waved the red flag (and they started an hour after us) but Chef Yoshii seems to revel in our unabated enthusiasm for more. Of everything.

Sashimi scampi nigiri sushi and sea urchin roe in cucumber wrapped gunkan maki, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Sashimi scampi nigiri sushi and
sea urchin roe in a cucumber-wrapped gunkan maki

We can't believe our luck when we receive a third serve of sea urchin roe, this time packed on top of a gunkan maki battleship wrapped around with a carved parchment of cucumber instead of the usual nori. Its oceanic freshness is an ideal partner to scampi sushi, its gleaming pearlescent flesh singing with sweetness.

Aburi Tasmanian swordfish belly nigiri sushi and aburi ocean trout nigiri sushi, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Aburi Tasmanian swordfish belly nigiri sushi and
Aburi ocean trout nigiri sushi with daikon and irishio Okinawan salt

The blowtorch is whipped out for our next serve. Swordfish belly and ocean trout have the fattiness to benefit from a quick sear. The precise incisions make sure the rendered fat drips into, not off, the blowtorched flesh.

Chef Ryuichi Yoshii adding his 25-year-old soy sauce to sea eel anago nigiri sushi at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Chef Ryuichi Yoshii adding his 25-year-old soy sauce to sea eel anago nigiri sushi

We can tell there's something special about the thick sauce Chef Yoshii is drizzling over anago sea eel. It's a 25-year-old soy sauce, he tells us, made from a soy sauce he smuggled to Australia when he first left Japan. "I wrapped it up in Glad Wrap and hid it in my bag!" he admits with a grin.

Sea eel anago nigiri sushi glazed with Chef Ryuichi Yoshii's 25-year-old soy sauce, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Sea eel anago nigiri sushi glazed with Chef Ryuichi Yoshii's 25-year-old soy sauce

There's no doubting the rich and dark intensity of a soy sauce that's a quarter of a century old. The glaze drips down lazily off the buttery fillet of anago saltwater sea eel.

Miso clam soup, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Miso clam soup

The fragrance of miso soup hits us as soon as it lands on the table. It's a time to reflect quietly as we sip each spoonful. The clams are extra juicy from absorbing the miso soup.

Prawn nigiri sushi in Edomae style, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Prawn nigiri sushi in Edomae style

Chef Yoshii seems especially pleased to present prawn nigiri sushi in Edomae style. Sushi during the Edo period (said to have started in the early 1800s) used vinegared rice with seafood preserved through simmering in broth (like our prawns), soaking in soy (zuke) or cured in salt and vinegar.

Edomae sushi was born when access to refrigeration was limited and ice was expensive. Edoame sushi also traditionally focused on only one ingredient per piece.

Tamago egg omelette made with snapper and prawn, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Tamago egg omelette made with snapper and prawn

We finish with tamago, an egg omelette made with snapper and prawn. This type of tamago is almost like a sponge cake, a sweet finish to our omakase.

Chef Ryuichi Yoshii with his tamago at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Chef Ryuichi Yoshii with his tamago

Japanese brown sugar ice cream with Okinawan buckwheat and hoji tea granita, part of our omakase by Chef Ryuichi Yoshii at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Japanese brown sugar ice cream with Okinawan buckwheat and hoji tea granita

But of course there's more. Chef Yoshii laughs when our dessert arrives. "That's the proper dessert," he tells us.

Pastry chef Kumiko Endo is the creative force behind the dessert menu. Our quenelle of Japanese brown sugar ice cream is just what the doctor ordered. We alternate spoonfuls with finely shaved hoji tea granita and toasted Okinawan buckwheat.

Chef Ryuichi Yoshii plating his sashimi platter at Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney
Chef Ryuichi Yoshii plating his sashimi platter

There's no prescribed length or duration of Chef Yoshii's omakase, although I expect Chef Yoshii takes on clues or directly asks about your appetite and gustatory preferences.

We arrived at 6pm and expected to be finished within two hours. We ended up leaving the restaurant at 10pm! And we couldn't have been happier about it. Definitely worth the $160 we paid per person.

Fujisaki by Lotus at Barangaroo in Sydney


Fujisaki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fujisaki
Shop 2, 100 Barangaroo Avenue, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9052 9188

Opening hours
Monday to Sunday 12pm-3pm and 6pm-10pm


The omakase by Yoshii ($140 or $160) must be booked in advance. 
Maximum five people per omakase sitting.


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