My weekends are so hectic that I often try and schedule nothing on Mondays. I need Mondays to recover from my weekend which is pretty much like a 5 day working week crammed into two days (not that I'm complaining Dear Reader, I love it!). But very occasionally, a lunch may creep into the schedule. This Monday I tapped some energy reserves and ventured out to try Saké in The Rocks for a Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) lunch to celebrate their 20th anniversary. We would be dining in the private dining area and partaking of their "signature dish" menu which is priced at $88 per person.
We start off with a Kozaemon Junmai sake-of course to toast the occasion with a "Kampai!" and it's with a sake that looks deceptively like water and is polished to 70% so that much of the outer coating of rice is removed. For the aroma, and it's strong in Vegemite and yeast, it is quite mild tasting and one of the more pleasant sakes that I have tried. Kozaemon is a 300 year old boutique brewery in Japan.
I'm seated and talking with my former travelling buddies so already I'm glad that I made the trip out. We start with the edamame beans dusted with flakes of salt on the outside. We pop the beans out of the pod the salt brushing our lips and seasoning the beans as they pop down the hatch. I immediately think back to my years living in Japan.
_ _They are generous serves of everything and don't tell anyone but I end up having at least six slices of the hiramasa kingfish sashimi! The kingfish is thinly sliced and served with a zesty, salty yuzu soy and garnished with paper thin slices of jalapeno chili which give it an ever so slight chilli heat kick.
The panko rice balls looked less panko that I thought they'd be (usually they're those larger crispy shards of breadcrumb). These are smaller breadcrumb balls filled with soy bean, baby bamboo shoots & shiitake mushroom rice balls with the predominant flavour being the rich, distinctive shiitake mushroom. It is served with a wasabi mayonnaise.
I think we were all waiting for these (or perhaps it was just Ute and I!) but when they set these down we were curious. They are Chinese inspired steamed prawn dumplings with ponzu dipping sauce and they are covered with thin threads of pastry that look like noodles. They're frightfully good and redolent with tender, juicy fresh prawn and they are paired with a spicy ponzu dipping sauce although truth be told, I preferred these plain as I thought that the dipping sauce overpowered them. I may or may not have had quite a lot of these. I'm not confirming or denying anything ;)
Butterfish lettuce cups
_ _Now onto the mains! Our first main, and one that I think wasn't quite as generous a serve as the rest was the sweet miso marinated butterfish with an unexpectedly earth shatteringly crunchy shredded kataiifi topping. There were a lot of flavours going on in this dish and it was a surprise and I got a burst of flavours and textures from the miso and the crunchy kataifi pastry. There wasn't quite enough once the bite was taken to indulge in another though. And I do love butterfish or black cod so, so much.
This has nothing to do with popcorn but is bite sized prawn tempura pieces coated in yuzu and a "creamy spicy sauce" which was rich and reminded me of a hollandaise sauce with a slow chilli burn at the end. I must admit that I ate an awful lot of this too. That's what skipping breakfast will do to you.
This dish had us questioning why we don't do more with buckwheat at home. Here the grain fed beef sirloin is cooked medium rare and comes sliced sitting on a bed of sautéed shiitake, edamame and buckwheat with a gingery yakiniku grilled meat sauce. As tender as the beef was I found myself enjoying the depth of the flavour of the buckwheat beneath. If I unearthed a wonderfully umami shiitake mushroom then I was happy (small joys Dear Readers, literally...small, flavoursome joys!).
Panna cotta shot
I do like panna cotta but I have to admit that I prefer them outside of a glass so that I can control the ratio of coulis or sauce to panna cotta and to also enjoy the visual wobble of the dessert. I've probably eaten too much of the rest of the food to be able to commit more space in my stomach to this and I find that I get a lot of raspberry coulis in the spoonfuls although the panna cotta is smooth underneath.
There's no time for tea and coffee as we all depart in our various directions but I'm willing to reconsider this "no going out on Mondays" if only I was given this option every Monday.
So tell me Dear Reader, are your weekends very busy or are they more relaxing weekends? And what day of the week do you dread the most? For me Mondays are bearable only because there is a new True Blood episode then! ;)
12 Argyle Street, The Rocks, Sydney NSW
Tel +61 (2) 9259 5656
Monday - Sunday Lunch 12.00 - 3.00pm
Monday - Thursday Dinner 6.00 - 10.30pm
Friday Dinner 6.00 - 12.00am
Saturday Dinner 5.30 - 11.30pm
Sunday Dinner 5.00 - 10.00pm