Sepia has been on my go-to list for a long time – and even after my very thoughtful friends gave me a gift voucher to dine there for my birthday last year, it’s taken me almost a year to use it. I thought it was best saved up for a special occasion, and so it wasn’t until last week that Sir D and I dined at Sepia to celebrate our 10 year milestone.
As we were dining on a weeknight, we had the option of selecting the a la carte menu, a four course menu ($130pp) or go all out with the degustation ($160pp). The promise of scallops and scampi caught our eyes on the four course menu – and since we share dishes it seemed like we would be able to sample more of the menu this way.
After indulging on warm bread with a perfect sphere of Pepe Saya butter (my first time trying it, and seriously the best butter I’ve ever eaten!), we were served an amuse bouche of swordfish belly and seaweed. It was such a delicious mouthful and set the scene for all the dishes to come.
The first dish was scallop sushi – but not as you know it. Fat, plump scallops were rolled in nori dust so that they took on an matte, black appearance on the outside. Cutting it in half revealed the juicy scallop innards that were still raw. Around the plate were dabs of avocado cream, pickled ginger jelly and wonderfully crispy puffed rice bits to make up the other flavours in a scallop sushi.
The Hiramasa Kingfish sashimi was such a pretty dish that it was almost too pretty to eat. Pinks and purples from violets, beetroot, radishes, aka seaweed and red shiso flakes contrasted against the translucent white of the kingfish. Even the smoked trout roe in the dish was tinted pink from the beetroot. The flavours of this dish were quite subtle and balanced.
The second course was a roasted corn fed chicken breast which was tender, succulent and full of flavour. There was Saikyo miso mousse around the chicken, but it also seemed like it was stuffed inside the chicken breast too. The umami miso mousse was countered by chunks of sweet steamed snow crab meat, as well as myoga ginger and garlic flowers.
I was glad to see another sashimi dish and if I thought that the previous one was amazing, the Yellow Fin tuna sashimi absolutely blew my mind. Initially I thought it was a big cube of tuna, but I later realised that it was actually thin slices of tuna with Jamon Iberico sandwiched in between the slices! The flavour of the tuna and the meaty jamon paired extremely well together, and was even better with the dashi onion cream and the white soy jelly around the plate. Puffed buckwheat provided a crispy texture, and to top it off, there was a gooey perfectly poached quail egg.
The scampi dish was one that I had been looking forward to most, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The scampi was cooked very lightly but had a smokey flavour from the charcoal. It was amazing on its own, but the shellfish mousse with sudachi lime brought it to a whole other level with an intense seafood flavour. We were so tempted to lick the plate clean and I guess we did a good effort of getting every last smidgen of food because even the waiter noticed!
The beef dish for this course was equally as mind-blowing, mainly because I have never had wagyu that melted in the mouth as much as this one did. The wagyu was rolled and seared to medium, so it was still pink in the centre. It was unbelievably tender and it almost melted away into nothing as soon as you put it in your mouth. It was accompanied by a chestnut mushroom cream, roasted red onion juice, wasabi fried potato and kombu crumb. A light citrus soy sauce lifted the dish so that it wasn’t too heavy. The scampi and the wagyu were definitely our favourite dishes of the night.
We were treated to a pre-dessert of something simply called “apple and blackcurrant”. A red sphere was brought to the table, garnished by a tiny sprig of mint. We were told to use the back of the spoon to crack open the sphere and as we did, a creamy apple and blackcurrant mousse was revealed inside the sphere. As for the outside, we figured that it was a apple and blackcurrant juice coating that had been snap frozen using liquid nitrogen, so that it would crack after being hit with a spoon.
This first dessert was definitely not what I was expecting. A pool of vanilla caramel was inside the bowl, while the other elements were scattered on the rim. Plump, juicy blackberries and dark blackberry jelly stood out against the stark white frozen creme fraiche and cinnamon custard as a mixture of sweet, tart and creamy. There were so many elements it was hard to discern them all, but I did notice that the brick pastry was in thin strips and curled up like a ball of noodles that had been fried until crunchy!
And of course, you can’t go to Sepia without trying their signature chocolate forest dessert. This rendition of the chocolate forest was the Summer edition, with a red sour cherry sorbet perched on a bed of chocolate twigs, chocolate soil and grassy candied fennel fronds. We were instructed to “dig deep” when eating the dish, and doing so meant that you found the hidden rose cream and soft chocolate. It was definitely like no other dessert I’ve had before.
We both had such a wonderful experience at Sepia and I’m so glad I finally made it there. Needless to say, the service was impeccable with the friendly waitstaff explaining every dish and happy to answer any questions we had (although they did like to keep some of it a mystery!). It was an amazing meal and when the occasion arises, I will definitely be going back!
201 Sussex Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: +61 2 9283 1990
Lunch: Friday and Saturday, from noon
Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday, from 6pm