It was Sir D’s birthday 2 weeks ago, and to celebrate I decided to take him to one of the special dinners hosted by Merivale as part of the annual March into Merivale event. It was hard to decide which event to go to since so many of them sounded good but in the end I decided on the Omakase Dinner coordinated by the three Japanese chefs at Merivale – Nobuyuki Ura (sushi e), Akira Urata (Uccello) and Atsushi Saito (Sushi Choo).
The concept of omakase comes from Japan and leaves the chef to decide and select the dishes for your consumption rather than ordering from the a la carte menu. For someone who likes to check out the menu before visiting a restaurant, it involves a certain level of trust on the diner’s part that the chef will be able to surprise and excite your palate. Tuna ravioli didn’t sound particularly exciting but when it arrived on the table I was impressed by the use of thin slices of tuna sashimi as the casing for the ravioli and all the individual components of the dish which married well with each other. A creative and interesting start to the meal.
The next course is a medley of five canapé-sized dishes. I start with the persimmon and konnyaku with tofu paste and salmon roe presented in the small bowl. While it’s a little bland on flavour, it’s all about the textures – the jelly-like texture of the konnyaku, the slight crunch from the persimmon, the burst of saltiness from the salmon roe and the gooey, viscous tofu paste. The lamb cutlets are a small bite of juicy red-miso marinated lamb on a stick, and the grilled pacific oyster is still plump and creamy underneath the miso sauce. Ebi isobe age is a prawn wrapped with seaweed, deep fried until crisp and served with green tea salt, while my favourite, the miso cod, is a bite-sized piece of cod that is firm but moist and glossy from the sweet miso glaze.
A small black bowl adorned with delicate gold leaves on the lid is served to us next. Inside holds a smooth and creamy sweet corn and dashi broth with a prawn dumpling in the centre. The broth isn’t as sweet as I expect it to be, and the sweet corn and dashi is an interesting sweet-salty combination. The prawn mince dumpling is bouncy and flavourful and this is my favourite dish of the night.
It wouldn’t be a complete meal at sushi e without some sushi, and it’s fascinating to watch the three chefs skilfully make your sushi right in front of your eyes from the sushi counter in the centre of the room. The sushi served tonight are labelled ‘new style sushi’, referring to a more modern spin on the sushi with the use of sauces and other cooking methods. My favourites from the platter are the smoked salmon roll and the grilled scallop nigiri.
By now my stomach is reaching its capacity but we still have the main course of wagyu beef steak to go. Despite being full it’s hard to resist the allure of the juicy, fatty wagyu which is cooked to a perfect medium rare and served with a tasty sesame dipping sauce.
To finish off the meal, a small dessert of black sesame and vanilla pannacotta is served with a raspberry coulis. I love the stripy contrast of the black and white layers and the nuttiness of the black sesame layer compared to the sweetness of the vanilla. The raspberry coulis is the perfect foil to the creaminess and sweetness of the pannacotta and it’s a great way to end the meal (even though I didn’t get to choose any of the dishes!). Hope you enjoyed your birthday dinner Sir D ♥
The omakase dinner was held on 15th March at sushi e for $90pp as part of March into Merivale 2011
Level 1, 252 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: +61 2 9240 3000
Open Monday to Friday, lunch and dinner; Saturday, dinner only