When you ask for the best Japanese restaurants in Sydney, the first name that pops up to anyone’s mind is probably Tetsuya. But I’ll have you know that Ume restaurant was an amazing find for me – nestled in an unlikely neighbourhood sprawling with more cafes than anything, it offers a value-for-money, and extremely delectable omakase menu (AUD74) that left me wanting more course after course. There’s an option of a Sake pairing at an additional AUD40, or wine pairing at AUD45. I didn’t try either though, because I don’t like to drink alone. 😛
The warm appetiser looks predictable but the smooth, silken tofu dipped in wari shoyu (enhanced shoyu) broth which tastes somewhat like a dashi – boldness of bonito flavours with the umami of kelp to round it off. The tofu was silky smooth but was full of structure, allowing you to dip it in the sauce together with just the right amount of bonito flakes and a pinch of spring onions for that quick sharpness and fragrance.
This is my first time having Kingfish sashimi (seemingly a popular sashimi type called the Hiramasa Kingfish reared in South Australia) and definitely not my last. The texture of the fish was supple and buttery, and tasted fresh, with a tinge of sweetness. So the fish came with two other condiments, a wakame sauce, and a dollop of a homemade yuzukosho (Japanese seasoning made of chilli peppers, yuzu and salt). The myriad of flavours blew my mind. The wakame sauce had a hint of shiso which conferred a herby essence in an overall umami touch. The yuzukosho gave the fiery kick, so take heed of that as you relish them together. This dish really whet my appetite in wait of the others to come.
The most beautiful dish of the night was the 9+ Blackmore Wagyu with onsen tamago. The wagyu beef was delicately poached, I think, and maintained it’s tenderness and freshness of flavours as it was done medium rare. The boldness of the tender wagyu was a bite to be remembered, tossed in the richness of the egg yolk of the onsen tamago and bathed in the sweetness of the sukiyaki sauce. I haven’t had a party in the mouth like this. The pearl grain rice, a necessity to soak up the wealth of flavour, was merely an additional AUD4.50. This was the winning dish for me that I’ll come back again for.
The dollop of roasted sesame butter was a brilliant topping on top of perfectly roasted seasonal greens of cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and baby onions. A light black vinegar dressing was engaged to balance the richness of the sesame butter as well, making it a well-rounded tantalizing vegan dish. The cadence of the 5-course meal was a bit broken by this item but it was nonetheless a delectable, albeit heavy number at this point of the dinner. I actually was half-hoping for a light broth dish to balance off the richness of the previous course before we broke into dessert.
The dessert was a showstopper. Buried under a sweet pumpkin snow cover is a rice pudding with tiny morsels of intact rice grains with candied apple and honey comb bits. The cold pumpkin snow against the warm rice pudding brought about a heartiness that even the fullest of people can stomach. Nothing was left behind.
The restaurant was a pleasant surprise to me, but what’s not a surprise is the bountiful cafes that line the entire of Bourke Street, and the parallel Crown Street – a story that we’ll soon cover. Stay tuned, and hungry.
Ume Restaurant (Map)
478 Bourke St
NSW 2010, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9380 7333
Reservations: Via Dimmi
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