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GQ (Australia) - - CONTENTS - Sasaki, Syd­ney

Ja­panese cul­ture has a won­der­ful re­spect for tran­quil­lity, singularity and style. Sasaki, a new Ja­panese restau­rant hid­den down a Syd­ney CBD laneway, em­bod­ies all of this in ev­ery sense. The tiny, so­phis­ti­cated space tucked be­hind cur­tains is unas­sum­ing from the street, but in­side is an in­te­rior de­signer’s dream. A court­yard leads to a small room that could pass muster in a high-end home­wares cat­a­logue – white walls, a Tas­ma­nian oak bar and ta­bles that dot a mi­nus­cule space filled with pot­tery and wooden cut­lery hand carved by the chef’s fa­ther. The wait staff is lovely bor­der­ing on apolo­getic, while chef Yu Sasaki (owner of Cre Asian cafe next door) cap­tures the con­sid­ered cui­sine of re­gional Ja­pan and his home­town, Shi­mane. His sim­ple, yet so­phis­ti­cated, cui­sine is in­spired by his mother’s cook­ing. A tofu dress­ing, used in place of egg, lath­ers a salad of cab­bage, per­sim­mon and wal­nuts for a sat­is­fac­tory start. Pretty pink slices of roast duck breast wad­ing in soy-braised leeks is bang on, be­fore a big bowl of Cloudy Bay clams in a mor­eish sake and shungiku sauce (chrysan­the­mum greens). The classic savoury cus­tard ( chawan­mushi) with crab ar­rives in a cov­ered teapot. The cus­tard eats like silk, the flakes of crab are some­what miss­ing in ac­tion, though it’s still a joy. The miso soup steals the show – an al­lur­ing broth hous­ing just­cooked car­rots, turnips, fried bean curd, kon­nyaku and silken tofu. This alone will have me com­ing back. The pas­try, while aes­thet­i­cally as­tound­ing, is po­lar­is­ing. A sweet potato mound is sand­wiched by potato crisps and it’s… in­ter­est­ing. Figs in a lick of yuko are bet­ter, while white peach sor­bet and yo­gurt nails the sweet, vel­vety brief. Sasaki is a quiet and al­most Zen ex­pe­ri­ence – a striking vi­sion with grace­ful de­liv­ery. It’s not for those who like a ruckus, and though the food could do with a bit more en­ergy to bal­ance, it’s still a wel­come ad­di­tion. 102/21 Al­berta St;

Yu Sasaki, chef/owner of the Ja­panese new­comer.

Sasaki’s high­lights in­clude roast duck with soy-braised leeks, and the chawan­mushi savoury cus­tard with crab.

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