One of the highlights of this visit to Tokyo was the incredible sashimi and sushi meal at Kyubey. We sat at the main restaurant’s ground floor bench, and had a chef serving us directly (service charge was applied) – this was worth the extra fee to watch the chef’s knife skills – and chose the Iga kaisek set (¥18,000 at lunch with the anniversary special). The meal started with two beautiful entrees, one with tofu and aloe, the other with a raw seasonal fish – light, delicate and delightful. Then the sashimi began – red seabream, middle tuna, squid and a couple of others I ate without asking the name. Each was fresh from the Tsukiji market and perfectly timed to minimise the time between being sliced and eaten. Following a relatively large piece of grilled fish (possibly bonito?), the nigiri sushi began. Each was a delight, particularly the ootoro (fatty tuna), which melted in your mouth and had such a delicate flavour – heavenly. The prawns were brought out live, killed in front of us and put on the rice (you can also choose to have it cooked, as I did). It doesn’t get fresher than that! Next up soup, grilled eel (so creamy!) and small rolled sushi. The meal ended with an egg omelette block and a large wedge of watermelon. Top class sushi and a must-visit for a splash-out meal.
Kyubey Ginza, 8-7-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, http://www.kyubey.jp/en
After a fabulous savoury course, it was time for the sweets. We had tried to pace ourselves, but ended up only trying the least portable desserts, and getting the rest takeaway (thank you Buvette!). I started with the lemon meringue tart, as the lightest of all the flavours. The meringue was so glossy and soft, it just melted away into the sweet pastry and delicious lemon curd base. Yum. Next up was the profiterole – now usually I’m not a huge fan of these, as they can be bland compared to other sweets, but this one had such great quality chocolate and a caramel-flavoured filling, that it has change my mind about what a good profiterole can be. The tiramisu was a highlight, although by then I had reached dairy saturation, so only tried the coffee-and-liqueur-soaked cake – it was stronger on the coffee than the liqueur, which was probably good to counteract the sleepiness from so much eating. Of the sweets I took home, I particularly liked the strawberry friand – it had great flavour and actually smelt really great too – and the salted caramel square was also divine. Highly recommended for a special occasion, or just to celebrate the weekend!
Buvette, Hotel Realm, 18 National Circuit, Barton ACT, http://buvette.com.au/
Buvette’s Petit Feast has become the hottest new thing for Canberra foodies to indulge in – and what a treat! My friend and I booked a few weeks in advance and were delighted by the whole experience ($65pp). I’ll post about the sweets separately, but on arrival you start with the savoury course, served with a glass of rose and a separate plate with your oyster. The oysters were huge, although they had probably the strongest oceanic flavour of any oyster I’ve ever had, so it might not be to everyone’s tastes. We started with the finger sandwiches – the top two were salmon, the bottom two tomato and cheese – which had been made fresh and were both light and tasty. Next up was the spinach and zucchini quiche, which had very short, sweet pastry and a luxurious, silky-smooth filling. Yum. The tiny beef pies were elegant and flavoursome, but I was particularly excited for the cold meats. The jamon definitely stole the show (my friend’s pick of the whole feast) and was closely followed by the guyere cheese, which was so tasty we kept our leftovers for the doggie bag. The manager came to check on each table (very classy) and told us it was imported from France. The olives were also a nice respite from the richer items. Stay tuned for the sweet course…
Buvette, Hotel Realm, 18 National Circuit, Barton ACT, http://buvette.com.au/
It’s been a while since I last went to Monster, but I was equally impressed on this visit. Stopping in for a solo lunch at 3pm (as you do), I went for a share plate which I was told would be equivalent to a main. The pulled lamb shoulder ($29) was calling my name, so I placed my order, and basically 5 minutes later had my meal. I am convinced their chef is actually The Flash. Wow. The meal itself was beautifully presented, with a very generous scattering of pistachio nuts and pomegranate seeds on top of the hulking pieces of lamb. Propped up and hiding the dollops of fresh yoghurt were several fried (not battered) vine leaves and a new flavour for me – brik, a Tunisian pastry which was salty and crisp. You guys, this was super classy lamb. The pieces were so melty and delicious, and there was an (I love being able to use this word) unctuous sauce that I mopped up with my complimentary bread. All the textures you could ask for were there – crunch from the pistachios, juice from the pomegranate, crisp from the vine leaves and brik and creaminess from the yoghurt. The cross-cultural flavours were utter heaven. Absolutely perfect comfort food I will be back for.
Monster Kitchen and Bar, Hotel Hotel, 25 Edinburgh Avenue, Acton ACT, http://www.hotel-hotel.com.au/eat-and-drink/monster/
Japanese food is my absolute favourite, and so for my birthday, Mum and I had the most amazing dinner at one of the best Japanese restaurants I’ve been to in Australia; Shoya. We sat at the sushi bar, and ordered a la carte, starting with the deluxe sashimi entree. The sashimi here is just as good as any place in Tokyo, and I was gobsmacked by a) the beauty of the ice sphere it was served in and b) the perfection of the salmon, tuna, scallop and kingfish sashimi pieces. Basically, everything melted in your mouth and I could have happily eaten another three serves. Swoon. Next was a piece each of the aburi salmon and unagi (eel) nigiri sushi – the salmon was tender and tasty, but the unagi was the stand-out, with a huge, meaty piece grilled to perfection atop the rice. We then enjoyed the salmon onigiri, which was actually huge and very filling – the flakes of salmon were perfect and there was the occasional pop of heat from a red peppercorn within. Finally, we shared a plate of the agedashi tofu, which was just the right level of crispy on the outside and pillowy-soft inside. Pure birthday bliss.
Shoya, 25 Market Lane, Melbourne VIC http://www.shoya.com.au
When a friend mentioned that the Hyatt was doing a series of Latin Flavours feasts from around South America, we booked in quick smart for the Argentine one. We were met with one of the best buffets I’ve ever seen in my life. There were three buffet stations, PLUS a stand from which to get your cooked goat. Swoon. I started with seafood – cold crabmeat, octopus salad and fresh prawns, plus oysters and mussels. I also fell in love with the beetroot salad. Oh my. Next was the red meat – rib eye steak in chimmichurri, goat, mini empanadas stuffed with beef and cheese, cheesy cabbage rolls and a selection of cold meats (chorizo, jamon and salami). By this point my initial goal of three savoury and two sweet rounds was seeming overly ambitious. I ditched savoury and loaded up my plate with a melt-in-your-mouth mango cake (I don’t think they have mangoes in Argentina, but who cares?), churros dipped in chocolate from the chocolate fountain, dulce de leche pancakes, strawberries and cream and quince tart. The tango demonstration was a good digestion pause before cheese to finish. There are a couple more nights left (Venezuela and Mexico) so get in quick!
Promenade Cafe, Hyatt Hotel Canberra, 120 Commonwealth Avenue ACT http://canberra.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html
Part one is here. The second main was agnolotti with mushrooms, truffle, pine nuts and a creamy bone marrow sauce, and this was my favourite of the two. I loved the rich cream sauce and the pairing of truffle with forest mushrooms. The pasta was clearly house-made and had a lovely bite. Looking at the dish, I just wanted to dive right in, with all that beautiful grated parmesan on top! By this point we were getting very full – I sipped at my mocktail (strawberry and mint lemonade – uttery divine and something I will go back for) and enjoyed the Autolyse bread with butter and salt, topped with a truffle crisp (the strongest truffle flavour of the day). The first dessert was the sweet and it was at its best with a mouthful capturing all of the elements – the sweet waffle, the not-very-sweet icecream, the shaved truffle and the salty popcorn. Everything worked perfectly to create a complex, sophisticated dessert. Finally, we finished with truffled brie, served with thyme-infused leatherwood honey and a neutral, very thin crispbread. The thyme made the honey almost savoury – again, trying the dish with all the elements in one mouthful yielded the best flavour. Sage, you sure know how to make a first impression! The Sage truffle lunch is on until the end of July as part of the Canberra Truffle Festival.
Sage Dining Rooms, Batman Street, Braddon ACT http://www.sagerestaurant.net.au/