May 7, 2012

Tasting Menu @ Uchi Lounge (Sydney)

It seemed a little silly to travel to Australia for Japanese food, but I couldn't resist having dinner at Uchi Lounge after reading so many glowing reviews. And plus, my mom and I were terribly jetlagged for the first day of our trip and Uchi Lounge was conveniently a short 4 minute walk from our hotel. We just couldn't wait to get back to the hotel and crash on the bed. But of course, as always, I refused to let sleep get into the way of a good meal.
We're a family of small eaters (and sister was on a diet) so we got two orders of the tasting menu ($49 per order), plus one additinoal item to share between the three of us. The meal started with complimentary rice cakes. Unfortunately, it was way too salty for me, and not as crispy as I would like it to be.
Next to arrive were the miso soup and the Uchi Salad with wakame, konnyaku, crispy gobo, cherry tomato, cucumber and Asian Greens. The miso soup was, once again, too salty for me, but I absolutely loved the salad. The combination of all the flavours and textures worked really well together, and as a whole, the salad was super refreshing. I'd be happy to eat a big bowl of it for lunch.
The next plate to come included two salmon top’n roll sushi and two pieces of tataki-style salmon sashimi with soy and caper ponzu sauce. The takaki-style salmon was seared beautifully on the edge, and I loved that added smoky flavour from the char. The quality of the fish was also excellent and I couldn't find fault with the dish.
The salmon top'n roll was simple in concept- an avocado roll draped with a piece of salmon, but it was inexplicably delicious (although I might be biased due to my general fondness for sushi rolls) I thought that the ratio of all the components was perfect.
In addition to the tasting menu, my sister wanted to try their char-grilled baby octopus with ginger and garlic soy. I think we all agreed that this was our least favourite dish of the meal. Personally, I'm just not a fan of half-cooked octopus. So while the char-grilled exterior was lovely, I couldn't really enjoy the slimy, half-raw interior.
The next platter presented us with agedashi tofu and isobe-fried chicken pieces, served with sesame mustard mayo.
Well-executed fried chicken pulls my heartstrings every time, and this was no exception. The chicken was juicy and flavourful, and I have to say, that sesame mustard mayo was really fantastic! In comparison, I found the agedashi to be pleasant, but not particularly outstanding.
When the next dish -Kingfish sashimi with shallot umeboshi and tamari dressing- arrived, I had to pause my eating and take a moment to admire the beautiful presentation. It almost resembled an abstract painting on a plate!
I usually stick with salmon and tuna when it comes to sashimi, but the kingfish here was quite spectacular. The flavours were bold, but still felt clean on the palate. No soy sauce needed for sure! It was another winning dish!
The next hot course was these scrumptious char-grilled seared scallops with enoki soy and crispy organic soba. And it really was incredible! The scallops were cooked perfectly and almost melted in my mouth. I seriously just wanted to inhale a bucket of these! On a side note, the shells were so pretty that I wanted to take them home!
But the dish that blew my mind away was grilled eggplant with miso and parmesan. Hands down, it was my favourite course of the entire meal! Almost every review I read had raved about the eggplant dish, and after taking a bite, I could certainly understand why.
I'm little lost for words to describe just how divine it was! The combination of the salty parmesan, sweet miso paste and soft eggplant chunks was unbelievably tasty (though my mom complained that it was too salty). We even ate all the skin! I've never tasted anything like this before, and I'm certainly going to look up a recipe and try to get my mom to replicate it at home! It's no wonder that the this is one of Uchi Lounge's most popular dishes.
The final course was a choice between beef and tuna. We went with medium rare beef steak with dark miso, chilled wasabi mash and crispy renkon. Again, I have nothing but praise for the beef, which was tender and flavourful in spite of not being terribly juicy. As well, the crispy renkon chips were delightful, and they would certainly make a great TV snack. I was quite sad that my mom and sister both declared that they were too full for desserts. I was really excited to trying some of their interesting dessert options here (Japanese pumpkin and chocolate tart! Houji cha panna cotta! Green tea and cinnamon creme brulee!) But nevertheless, I had a sensational meal at Uchi Lounge, and I'm so glad I found this hidden jem.
Uchi Lounge on Urbanspoon

My other Australia posts:
Cafe Ish
Red Door Cafe
Lindt Chocolate Cafe
Bills
Momofuku Seiōbo
Bangbang Espresso Bar and Cafe
Quay 
Pranzo

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