Monday, June 15, 2009

Sake and Sushi

My sister's boyfriend, matt, is one of those people who just lives to eat. His passion for food is so strong that he unconciously ignores you, and any other conversation, when he's eating something that excites him. It's an intense but amusing thing to watch actually.

Last night amanda and matt took my boyfriend, tom, and I out to dinner at 'Sushi E' in George Street. Sushi E belongs to the Hemmes' family empirical hospitality company Merivale. Now this family are the people who own the Ivy and the Establishment, Sydney's most notoriously swanky, expensive and a little bit pretentious nightclubs. The Merivale group consists of numerous award winning restaurants, including 'est.' which has been given 3 Hats by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, which is considered a foodie's bible.

Anyway, I went along to Sushi E expecting to be faced with an overpriced menu, riculously tiny servings and a cold, snobbish atmosphere but instead I actually experienced the opposite.
The atmosphere was warm and cosy which was needed for the freeeezing winter night we went on. The staff were all friendly....although I actually felt worried and slightly alarmed for the young, pretty waitresses who all seemed to be walking around in heels. I'm a waitress myself and get sore feet wearing flat converse for hours on end...Maybe it's down to my youthful inexperience with high-heel wearing, but I actually don't know how they can do it!...

...On to the food - We tried to start off modestly but matt became slightly possessed and by the end of it had ordered nearly everything on the menu.

First up Miso Soup. This was the best miso I've had. I love going to japanese restaurants just for the obligatory soup, but I'm often let down by lack of flavour. This one was delicious and had the perfect amount of saltyness.

I've had a weird obsession with trying to discover the best salt and pepper squid in Sydney and since dating me, tom has joined the bandwagon. So our first choice was naturally the 'salt and pepper cuttlefish'. It was amazing...the batter was light and didn't swamp the cuttlefish.

Next we got a sashimi tasting plate. I had a piece of incredibly deep pink tuna and it literally melted in my mouth. My sister ordered the prawn shumai - 6 perfect little steamed dumplings of sweet prawn (and I swear I tasted corn) served with ponzu dipping sauce. These were so incredibly simple but delish that we ordered two more serves.

tom and I also got the jumbo harumaki - a japanese style prawn and salmon spring roll. It was the only disappointing dish we had. The rolls had very little flavour...the only good thing was the 'tomato chilli relish' that accompanied it but even that lacked spice. amanda loved the fried chicken katsu, which tom referred to as "japanese KFC." matt had been hanging out for the Balmain bug tempura and I have to say that was the favourite all round. We scoffed this down enthusiastically, the Balmain bug was so soft and tender.

The spicy scallop was a raw scallop seared under a flame, with spicy mayo on top. It was fun watching the sushi chefs prepare the dish but I'm not sure I liked the scallop was sweet with a slightly citrus flavour but the texture was too mushy and was kind of like swallowing glue.

I also tried the agedashi tofu which featured on the 6 spoon tasting place, very willingly given to me by my meat loving companions- silken tofu which is deep fried then topped with a tiny pool of dark soy sauce and a toasted pine nut, served on a japanese spoon. The tofu was warm and soft, then came the sharp soy and the crunchy pine nut - dellllliicious.
matt and tom finished the meal with sushi rolls - the spider roll and the establishment rolls. They were pretty standard, raw tuna and cucumber with sticky rice, but nothing to write home about.

After we had established we were finally done with ordering Matt decided that he had to try the steamed pacific oysters. Anytime I've attempted to eat oysters out at restaurants it's always ended embarrassingly with me, red-faced, spitting the oyster back into its shell with the rest of the diners looking on. I passed.

matt however loved them, saying it was the best thing he'd eaten for a long time. He particularly liked the broth it was steamed in - soy, mirin, shallot and peanut oil. After his first, he ordered two more...
I can safely say we left Sushi E feeling content. The servings, although small, were enough to satisfy and the food itself was so fresh and flavoursome. The cocktails made with sake, fresh fruit and light citrus were well worth the $16 dollars. And the service was friendly and helpful...

...If only I had enough money to eat here more regularly....mmm salt and pepper cuttlefish

Sushi E: 252 George St, Sydney 2000

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