I have long been a fan of Uchi Lounge's modern Japanese cuisine and knew a re-visit was a must after learning that chef and owner Takashi Ohuchi had strengthened his team; appointing his brother Wataru Ohuchi (who has trained at award winningTokyo restaurant Diamon), as head chef.
It's been a little while since I've last been here, but I am relieved to see that even after 13 years in business, Uchi Lounge
still hasn't lost its casual quirky charm. The bar downstairs is quietly buzzing and the restaurant upstairs remains cosy but fresh.
We decide to go for the 10 course set menu, which at just $49 per head is definitely one of the best value kaiseki degustations out there in Sydney. I don't recall it being this cheap years ago but maybe I've just become more cost-conscious lately!
We start with the complimentary rice crackers. They're lightly toasted and crunchy with a slight chew and a lusting aroma of soy sauce.
First course is a traditional miso soup - homely and comforting.
Next we have refreshing bites of the top 'n roll sushi, a strip of fresh salmon draped over an inside-out avocado sushi roll.
This is paired on the side with course number three, a tataki-style salmon sashimi with soy caper ponzu sauce. I love the bonding of such simple ingredients, the gentle bitterness of the watercress, the zing of the dressing and the charred flavours of the seared sashimi.
Strange timing but our drinks are served mid-meal. My Sweet Devil cocktail ($14) is a luscious concoction of lychee sake, chilli sake, vodka and lychee syrup, shaken and poured into a chilled martini glass at the table. A plump lychee stuffed with mint offers a sweet finish.
The boy has the flavoured sake tasters, a choice of three types of sakes, 60ml each for $12. He went with my suggestions of the star anise which is served warm and has a dry taste, the chilled peach & lemongrass which is really fragrant and semi-sweet; and the green tea & coconut which is sweet but punchy and almost like a frappe. The hand-written notes and crane origami adds a cute personable touch.
Then we have these amazing chargrilled seared scallops with enoki soy and crispy soba! The scallops are scrumptious, fat and juicy, bursting with flavour. It is so visually appealing as well.
I have a deep appreciation for pretty glazed Japanese dinnerware and I must admit, there are a few I want to take home from Uchi Lounge's collection! ;)
Fifth course is a kingfish sashimi. Thin slivers of kingfish are accentuated with a shallot, umeboshi and tamari dressing. Slightly sweet, slightly sour, the clean flavours work in perfect harmony.
Moving onto the hot courses, we have the agedashi tofu which is simply faultless.
On the same plate are isobe-fried chicken pieces with sesame mustard mayo. Isobe-age is a cooking method which uses roasted nori (seaweed) for flavour and this dish rocks on so many different levels.
I'm also reunited with their signature grilled eggplant with miso and parmesan, a delectable fusion take on nasu dengaku (grilled eggplant with miso). The parmesan adds a lovely robustness to this dish.
The meatier course is a choice between the steak or tuna. We were going to opt for one of each but the waitress clarifies that it has to be shared between two so the steak it was.
The steak is a perfect medium-rare, conveniently sliced and served in a delicious dark miso sauce with ingen beans and crisp renkon chips. On the side is the last course, a green salad with wafu dressing and crispy gobo.
Dessert ($9.50 each) is not part of the tasting menu but who can say no to fusion Japanese sweets? From past experiences, I've learned the houji cha pannacotta is a must order, and tonight, it doesn't disappoint.
Intrigued by the unusual marriage of pumpkin with chocolate, I order the Japanese pumpkin and chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream. It is served like a piece of art on a plate; the pumpkin and chocolate are two very distinct flavours that don't overpower one another. It's a delightful dessert overall.
So there you have it, yet another sensational meal at Uchi Lounge. I don't know why I don't come back here more often!
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15 Brisbane St, Darlinghurst
Phone: (02) 9261 3524
JENIUS dined as guests of Wasamedia and Uchi Lounge.