Zen knew that there was no better way into my heart than a night out fine dining. Last week, on Melbourne Cup day, he took me out to one of my most favourite restaurants. (Psst, I'm feeling rather spoilt now because I have just got back from a weekend away at Forresters Beach & Terrigal where I stayed at a gorgeous resort and dined at the ever so spectacular Ocean Restaurant -watch this space for the upcoming post!)
Me & Zen at Yoshii sitting at the same table as our previous visit!
First impressions say it all. My first time at Yoshii was at a Hats Off dinner during the 2006 Good Food Month. The meal then was stunning and my benchmark for degustations had thereafter risen. So, now when I dine at Yoshii, I expect nothing less, but somehow my desires seems unreachable. Perhaps I have just exposed myself to too many good restaurants... hehe... but I am a loyal diner and I will forever love the pre-meal oshibori (warm towel), the quirky modern-day Japanese cuisine and the extremely courteous service.
We started off with an appetiser of beetroot tofu which could have easily been passed off as jelly due to its appearance or tuna due to its colour. The beetroot wasn't obvious at first but after a slow taste, the beautiful fresh vegetable flavours filled my mouth and schmoozed its way with the Kuidashi sauce, prawn, wasabi and caviar.
Appetiser of beetroot tofu with wasabi and Kuidashi sauce
The second course was slightly less interesting. The deep fried taro and chicken mince ball was coated in a thick glue which was sweet yet savoury. I didn't particularly like the kelp seaweed wrapped around the foie gras and the other 2 dishes were pretty average.
Second course of deep fried Japanese taro and chicken mince, daily fish Nanbanzuke wrapped with potato mousse, duck foie gras and kelp seaweed Tsukudani and prawn with apple and citrus dressing
Zen had the Yoshii course with wine ($178) and I had the Saqura course ($120) so the dishes after the 2nd course were different. Here is Zen's third course of zucchini flower tempura filled with cuttlefish mousse (tasted exactly like the cuttlefish balls used in steamboats) and cuttlefish ink salt. I've still got no idea what cuttlefish ink precisely tastes like but this dip had a salty sea flavour and it was charcoal grey. Yum! The cuttlefish mousse was also a fantastic substitute for ricotta cheese.
Zucchini flower tempura filled with cuttlefish mousse
The 3rd course of the Saqura degustation was oven baked abalone. It was brought out in a tiny loaf of golden baked bread (that was inedible, I was told). I was instructed to remove the lid and to peel back the paper. It was like opening an early Christmas present... beneath the piping hot sheets were thinly sliced pieces of abalone which were infused with sake and soy... they were tender and juicy. A few more slices or even a double serve would have been heavenly!
Oven baked sliced abalone in natural juices, sake and soy
Zen and his wine
The 4th course of both the Yoshii and Saqura sets were notably one of Ryuichi Yoshii's best. Mine was the pan-fried duck breast in rich pork wine reduction. The deep glossy sauce was sensational. Zen had the milk fed veal sashimi which I had tried during my previous visit. It was served the same way with tiny vegetable cut outs and micro herbs; just as tasty as I had remembered.... good times.
Pan fried duck breast Jibuni-style port wine reduction
Milk fed veal sashimi served with forest mushroom dressing
The I had an additional course (while Zen waited for his main course) of white fish and green tea soba noodles wrapped with seaweed. The cute little pieces sat in a brown tea bonito stock with floating grains of puffed brown rice. It was so aromatic and cleansing!
Daily white fish wrapped with nori seaweed and green tea soba noodle in brown tea bonito stock
My main course was baked kingfish with red miso... simply delicious. The main course of the Yoshii set was braised wagyu beef cheek, served with a clean ensemble of spring Japanese vegetables.
Paper wrapped Hiramasa king fish baked with sansho leaves and red miso
Slowly braised wagyu beef cheek in red riso and red wine
The finale courses have been one of the main consistencies between visits... the palette cleansing lemongrass granita remained heavily dosed in champagne and the sushi plates still featured all the best ingredients. There were tuna, kingfish, garfish, swordfish, scampi, ocean trout, eel, prawn and scallops. Of course the perfect accompaniment was pickled ginger, lots of wasabi and soy and a good cup of miso soup.
Palette cleanser of lemongrass granita
Saqura course's sushi plate
Yoshii course's first sushi plate
Yoshii course's second sushi plate
Miso soup bowl
Dessert was an option between three; two of which were the same as my previous visit. We had the blissful smoked icecream which was surprising delectable and the mascarpone dusted with soy powder and black sesame. Both were delicious but again, a larger serving size would have earned Yoshii some bonus points.
Smoked icecream and fresh fruit
Mascarpone dusted with soy powder and black sesame
115 Harrington Street Sydney
Phone: 9247 2566