Zen knew that there was no better way into my heart than a night out fine dining. Last week, on Melbourne Cup day, he took me out to one of my most favourite restaurants. (Psst, I’m feeling rather spoilt now because I have just got back from a weekend away at Forresters Beach & Terrigal where I stayed at a gorgeous resort and dined at the ever so spectacular Ocean Restaurant -watch this space for the upcoming post!)

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - Jennifer Lam and Zen Huang fine dining
Me & Zen at Yoshii sitting at the same table as our previous visit!

First impressions say it all. My first time at Yoshii was at a Hats Off dinner during the 2006 Good Food Month. The meal then was stunning and my benchmark for degustations had thereafter risen. So, now when I dine at Yoshii, I expect nothing less, but somehow my desires seems unreachable. Perhaps I have just exposed myself to too many good restaurants… hehe… but I am a loyal diner and I will forever love the pre-meal oshibori (warm towel), the quirky modern-day Japanese cuisine and the extremely courteous service.

We started off with an appetiser of beetroot tofu which could have easily been passed off as jelly due to its appearance or tuna due to its colour. The beetroot wasn’t obvious at first but after a slow taste, the beautiful fresh vegetable flavours filled my mouth and schmoozed its way with the Kuidashi sauce, prawn, wasabi and caviar.

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - appetiser of beetroot tofu, prawn, wasabi and caviar
Appetiser of beetroot tofu with wasabi and Kuidashi sauce

The second course was slightly less interesting. The deep fried taro and chicken mince ball was coated in a thick glue which was sweet yet savoury. I didn’t particularly like the kelp seaweed wrapped around the foie gras and the other 2 dishes were pretty average.

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - degustation starter of deep fried Japanese taro and chicken mince, daily fish Nanbanzuke wrapped with potato mousse, duck foie gras and kelp seaweed Tsukudani and prawn with apple and citrus dressing
Second course of deep fried Japanese taro and chicken mince, daily fish Nanbanzuke wrapped with potato mousse, duck foie gras and kelp seaweed Tsukudani and prawn with apple and citrus dressing

Zen had the Yoshii course with wine ($178) and I had the Saqura course ($120) so the dishes after the 2nd course were different. Here is Zen’s third course of zucchini flower tempura filled with cuttlefish mousse (tasted exactly like the cuttlefish balls used in steamboats) and cuttlefish ink salt. I’ve still got no idea what cuttlefish ink precisely tastes like but this dip had a salty sea flavour and it was charcoal grey. Yum! The cuttlefish mousse was also a fantastic substitute for ricotta cheese.

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - degustation, cuttle fish ink salt
Cuttlefish ink

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - degustation, zucchini flower tempura filled with cuttle fish mousse
Zucchini flower tempura filled with cuttlefish mousse

The 3rd course of the Saqura degustation was oven baked abalone. It was brought out in a tiny loaf of golden baked bread (that was inedible, I was told). I was instructed to remove the lid and to peel back the paper. It was like opening an early Christmas present… beneath the piping hot sheets were thinly sliced pieces of abalone which were infused with sake and soy… they were tender and juicy. A few more slices or even a double serve would have been heavenly!

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - degustation, oven baked sliced abalone infused in natural juices, sake and soy
Oven baked sliced abalone in natural juices, sake and soy

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - wine degustation
Zen and his wine

The 4th course of both the Yoshii and Saqura sets were notably one of Ryuichi Yoshii’s best. Mine was the pan-fried duck breast in rich pork wine reduction. The deep glossy sauce was sensational. Zen had the milk fed veal sashimi which I had tried during my previous visit. It was served the same way with tiny vegetable cut outs and micro herbs; just as tasty as I had remembered…. good times.

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - degustation, pan fried duck breast Jibuni-style port wine reduction
Pan fried duck breast Jibuni-style port wine reduction

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - milk fed veal sashimi served with forest mushroom dressing
Milk fed veal sashimi served with forest mushroom dressing

The I had an additional course (while Zen waited for his main course) of white fish and green tea soba noodles wrapped with seaweed. The cute little pieces sat in a brown tea bonito stock with floating grains of puffed brown rice. It was so aromatic and cleansing!

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - degustation, daily white fish wrapped with nori seaweed and green tea soba noodle in brown tea bonito stock
Daily white fish wrapped with nori seaweed and green tea soba noodle in brown tea bonito stock

My main course was baked kingfish with red miso… simply delicious. The main course of the Yoshii set was braised wagyu beef cheek, served with a clean ensemble of spring Japanese vegetables.

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - degustation, paper wrapped Hiramasa king fish baked with sansho leaves and red miso
Paper wrapped Hiramasa king fish baked with sansho leaves and red miso

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - degustation, slowly braised wagyu beef cheek in red riso and red wine
Slowly braised wagyu beef cheek in red riso and red wine

The finale courses have been one of the main consistencies between visits… the palette cleansing lemongrass granita remained heavily dosed in champagne and the sushi plates still featured all the best ingredients. There were tuna, kingfish, garfish, swordfish, scampi, ocean trout, eel, prawn and scallops. Of course the perfect accompaniment was pickled ginger, lots of wasabi and soy and a good cup of miso soup.

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - degustation, palette cleanser of lemongrass granita
Palette cleanser of lemongrass granita

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - degustation, sushi platter
Saqura course’s sushi plate

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - degustation, sushi platter
Yoshii course’s first sushi plate

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - degustation, sushi platter
Yoshii course’s second sushi plate

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - miso soup
Miso soup bowl

Dessert was an option between three; two of which were the same as my previous visit. We had the blissful smoked icecream which was surprising delectable and the mascarpone dusted with soy powder and black sesame. Both were delicious but again, a larger serving size would have earned Yoshii some bonus points.

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - degustation dessert of smoked icecream and fresh fruit
Smoked icecream and fresh fruit

Yoshii restaurant, Sydney - degustation, dessert of black sesame mascarpone and red bean
Mascarpone dusted with soy powder and black sesame

Yoshii Restaurant
115 Harrington Street Sydney
Phone: 9247 2566
Web: www.yoshii.com.au
Yoshii on Urbanspoon

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Jennifer is the founding blogger of I Ate My Way Through (originally, Jenius.com.au). Growing up in the multicultural melting pot of Sydney’s Inner West as a second generation Australian (of Vietnamese refugee parents of Teochew Chinese ancestry), Jen has always had a deep curiosity about global cuisines, culinary heritage and the cultural assimilation of immigrants. For Jen and her family, food is always at the centre of all celebrations, life events and milestones. A lover of the finer things in life, as well as cheap eats, her blogging ethos is all about empowering and inspiring people to expand their culinary repertoire. When not running her two companies (she is also the Managing Director of The Bamboo Garden online marketing agency), Jen can be found exploring old-world charms at vintage markets and delving into local eats around the world. She has a weakness for fried chicken.
  • YUM!!!! hahaha once again, soo jealous

  • Yum! Smoked Icecream????? What did it taste like? Smoked with what I wonder? BTW tagged you! Come visit to check it out!

  • YUM! This place is STILL on the list for me…more desire to go than ever before now!!

  • Hee hee you must really love this place and with good reason too! I tried Yoshii years ago but don’t really remember it well 🙁 but the food looks fantastic! I must pay another visit! I am sure the staff recognized you and were just sitting you at your usual table 😉 hee hee But I am finding it weird that Yoshii would serve sushi at the end of the meal eeettooo :S

  • Reem – Hehe… its very hard to describe, but it was delicious… there was only a subtle hint of smokiness which made it very appetising. Oooo… i got tagged. i’ll post my response soon
    Fooderati – I overheard Yoshii mentioning a change in the menu soon. Must try the summer degustation
    FFichiban – the sushi is probably served at the end to leave you with a good impression… so artistic, i especially love the presentation of the garfish (the one with 2 circles)… but the simplicity of tuna and shiso leaves were fabulous too! om nom nom..