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Monday, December 10, 2018

LuMi Bar & Dining, Pyrmont

Italian gunkan with sea urchin roe and caviar at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney

Italian sushi? It makes more sense than you'd think. Chef Federico Zanellato combines koshikari rice with stracciatella, a milky cheese made from buffalo milk, and crowns the traditional battleship-shaped sushi with sea urchin roe and Ossetra caviar. Mamma mia it's good.

Dining room with water views at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney

The Italian gunkan is one of the highlights of our recent lunch at LuMi, which translates to "small lights" in Italian. You can see the hanging pendant lights clustered overhead in the dining room, but during the day all attention is on the waterfront, beckoning through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

It's been two years since my last visit. The most noticeable difference is the complete overhaul of the dining room furniture, including the addition of banquette lounges for two.

Louis Roederer champagne at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Brut Louis Roederer $30 by the glass
Pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot meunier

We pick the LuMi Experience ($155) over the shorter LuMi Small Tasting ($125 available at lunch only). A more comprehensive Chef's Menu ($185) is only available at dinner.

The LuMi Experience will include 14 dishes today, and because we're celebrating, we go all out with glasses of Louis Roederer champagne to start. The ultra fine bubbles and crisp acidity are a treat.

Sea urchin roe and caviar Italian gunkan at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Italian gunkan 
(with caviar, additional $10)

The Italian gunkan is a such a sight to behold we're almost reluctant to eat it. There's noticeable finesse in its construction, from the cooking of the koshikari rice to its refined assembly into gunkan (battleship) sushi, including the perfectly crisp tail of nori seaweed.

Sea urchin gunkan is common enough on Japanese menus, but adding stracciatella buffalo cheese adds an additional gentle creaminess. There's also a layer of konbu gel, made from the same seaweed used to make dashi stock, hidden within. We splurge on the ossetra caviar, which provides an extra pop of briny saltiness.

We're instructed to eat the whole thing in one mouthful. It's a sigh-worthy moment of sweet and salty, soft and creamy, crisp and chewy bliss.

Yellow fin tuna with salmon roe in a sweet potato cone at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Tuna

Our table is soon covered in snacks, each of them small and fun to eat. It's hard not to smile as you nibble on a sweet potato cone filled with raw yellowfin tuna and bright orange pops of salmon roe.

Frozen chicken liver parfait with white chocolate ganache on brioche crisp at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Sage and chicken liver toast

Fanciest toast award would have to go to this brioche crisp dotted with whipped sage and curls of frozen chicken liver parfait. It's another idea that defies convention but works inexplicably. The sensation of the nitrogen-frozen chicken liver parfait melting on the tongue is bizarre but delicious.

Prosciutto chawanmushi with Fraser Island spanner crab, peas and yuzu dashi at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Chawanmushi

The Japanese classic steamed egg custard, or chawanmushi, is Italianised with the addition of prosciutto stock. It lends a fragranced saltiness, lightened by the citrus zing of yuzu dashi. A generous amount of Fraser Island spanner crab and juicy peas provide a lush sweetness.

 Jerusalem artichoke crisp with Swiss brown mushroom at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Jerusalem artichoke

Umami abounds in the Jerusalem artichoke crisp, piled with precise rounds of Swiss brown mushrooms plus a mushroom pate in-between. It's a mushroom lover's dream.

Rye and spelt brioche at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Rye and spelt brioche with koji butter

The signature brioche is flavoured with rye and spelt this time, accompanied by a splodge of koji butter. The brioche always looks so majestic, rising out of its dish like a mushroom after the rain.

White aspargus with macadamia at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
White asparagus, macadamia

Our palates are pulled back with the white asparagus, a dish of subtlety and gentle flavours. The white asparagus is quite soft in texture, contrasted against the crunch of smoked macadamia chunks and candied dessert lime. The caper leaves are an intriguing inclusion. We drink every last skerrick of the mellow macadamia milk.

Snapper ceviche at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Snapper

The snapper ceviche arrives in a forest of greenery. There's a bounty of flavours and textures here, a muddle of celery juice, coriander oil, shiso and white strawberries that work harmoniously together.

Making pork and preserved lemon ravioli at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Making fresh ravioli

Towards the end of service you can often catch staff preparing dishes for the shift. This includes the ravioli, currently stuffed with pork and preserved lemon.

Pork and preserved lemon meatballs at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Pork meatballs with preserved lemon, candied orange and fennel pollen

Pasta making at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Making ravioli 

Ravioli with pork and preserved lemon at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Ravioli

We score three rounds of ravioli, each sprinkled with fennel pollen.

Pork and preserved lemon inside the ravioli at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Ravioli filled with pork and preserved lemon, fennel pollen and candied orange

The petite ravioli pockets are filled with pork and preserved lemon, its citrusy acidity enhanced further with candied orange. It's quite a meaty parcel, the rubble of pork mince contrasting against the silky sheath of pasta.

Finger lime and apple cider at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Finger lime and apple cider $10

And while I'm tempted by the gin station (they have nine gins available), the summer heat calls for a finger lime and apple cider.

Scarlet prawn tagliolini at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Tagliolini, scarlet prawns, bottarga 
(additional $22)

While scarlet prawn season is amongst us in Sydney, we take advantage of the optional course of tagliolini with scarlet prawns and bottarga.

Scarlet prawns with bottarga on tagliolini at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Scarlet prawns with bottarga on tagliolini

The prawns are shelled for eating convenience, although privately I'm disappointed we don't get the prawn heads so we can revel in all its juiciness. It does mean we can maintain some sense of decorum as we twirl the al dente tagliolini strands around our forks.

The scarlet prawn, chopped into a tartare, is sticky and sweet. Across the top are crumbs made from the prawn shell, as well as finely shaved bottarga (salted and cured fish roe). Globe artichokes and zucchini flowers provide freshness and greenery.

Hapuka in pickled daikon radish with katsuo bushi cream at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Hapuka

We're not sure what to make of the hapuka, a strange vision of white, until we push aside the pickled daikon radish sheath to reveal its contents.

Hapuka with katsuo bushi cream and kumquat peel at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Hapuka

Inside is a hunk of hapuka cooked to a melting softness, bathed in katsuobushi cream. Katsuobushi is dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna, similar to the way bonito is prepared for the bonito flakes seen on top of takoyaki and okonomiyaki. There's a definite affinity for citrus and protein here, with kumquat peel added to the cream.

Smoked and roasted quail with blackcurrant glaze at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Quail

Our final savoury course is a clockface of quail, dry aged for three days, lightly smoked and then glazed with a blackcurrant emulsion. The quail is cooked masterfully. I even nibble on the quail foot.

Roasted baby beetroot and a dollop of bread sauce act as support players to the quail main act.

Toasted white chocolate and sudachi ice cream at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
White chocolate and sudachi

Sudachi ice cream, made from the Japanese sudachi citrus fruit, provides the palate cleanser before dessert. It's a huge portion, served on a large plank of toasted white chocolate and covered in yoghurt snow and keffir lime dust. The sweet and citrusy notes and tempered by the cold yoghurt snow, although I think half this portion would be plenty as a palate cleanser.

Italian meringue with coconut sorbet and raspberry powder at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Liquorice and coconut

Dessert is another boundary pusher, a cloud of torched Italian meringue strong in liquorice flavour. It's paired with a quenelle of refreshing coconut sorbet dusted with raspberry powder. The liquorice does tend to overwhelm the coconut but we get around this by eating them separately. The coconut sorbet is amazing on its own.

Frangipane tart petit four at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney
Petit four: frangipane tart

We finish with rather large petit four, a frangipane tart that has been cut in half. It's quite a large bite but it hits all the marks in flavour, the cake sweetened with a pineapple gastrique and dotted with toasted konbu cream.

Dining room at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney

The revised dining space lends itself a renewed casualness as Zanellato continues to find new inspiration in his Italian-Japanese menu. We like that the dishes change constantly too, providing a great excuse for a follow-up visit sooner rather than later.

Pier dining at LuMi restaurant in Pyrmont Sydney


LuMi Bar & Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

LuMi Bar & Dining
56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9571 1999

Opening hours
Lunch 
Friday to Sunday 12pm-4pm
Dinner 
Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 6.30pm-11pm
Friday and Saturday 6pm-11pm


Related Grab Your Fork posts
LuMi Bar & Dining (Nov 2016)
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