It was date night again. A time when Mr NQN and I go somewhere, just the two of us. The rules are simple. We both have to get dressed up and with Mr NQN now dressing up in proper "corporate" gear for work, this was going to be easier than it was previously. It was usually just me getting dressed up and Mr NQN sporting his favourite Marc Jacobs t shirt proclaiming that "monkeys ate his car."
We had saved our date for a little adventure. It always feel like an adventure when we go somewhere that we don't often venture and The Shire is one of those places that we don't often get to. Seven Lanterns was recommended to us and it is a Korean Japanese restaurant. And when I did my research I had a chuckle at the owner's responses on their eatability review page ;)
Right next to Paul's Famous Hamburgers, the entrance is not at the front door but instead it is to the right down a Japanese style walkway with painted red walls. When we walk in at 6:45pm the shades are drawn. And why is this? The sunlight hits diners just so and it isn't until a bit later in the evening that the blinds are pulled up.
We take a look at the menu and there is sake sangria with cocktails with names such as "My name is Ryan and I'm an alcoholic." Having stalked the menu online already we both thought that the set menu with 7 courses at $50 was good value but we also wanted to try the beef short rib hot pot. We ask if it is ok if one of us has the steak and the other the hot pot and thankfully it is!
On the table we have a choice of chopsticks or a fork and a knife set down on the table to eat with. The first course comes out quickly and it's a bowl of mixed green leaf salad with a slice of tomato with a ginger soy dressing that is refreshing and addictive.
The gyoza comes out on lacquered square plates with some small paper thin slices of birds eye chilli which we were warned about. Just a little slice each is quite nice although I can imagine a larger slice might have one huffing and puffing. They're said to be steamed and then teppan fried but these weren't so we sent these back to be lightly grilled on the bottom. They're filled with minced pork and vegetables and have a thin dumpling skin on them and they're not bad although truth be told, we're really more waiting for a few more dishes down the line.
We weren't quite sure what to expect and when a baby cos lettuce leaf arrives with a small pork katsu meatball in the centre it is a surprise. It is best eaten in the crunchy lettuce leaf and the meatball is made up of miso marinated pork mince katsu with a sweet sauce and a dollop of mayo on top.
Now this was the course that I was really waiting for. This is a piece of inside out sushi filled with tuna, avocado and cucumber which is luscious and soft. This is then topped with an aburi (lightly grilled) salmon fillet, red onion slices and black caviar with a gorgeous sweet soy based sauce that reminds me of kecap manis and a "cheese mayo." And if we go back I'm ordering my own serve of a dozen of these please.
Said to be their house specialty, the emperor's prawn is a whole king prawn split down the centre and served on the shell. It is teppan grilled on both sides so that the shell is meant to be eaten. It is then topped with a creamy seafood sauce and then blowtorched until blistered. Owner David who works the floor expertly like nobody's business tells us that it was inspired by his love of pizza and its blistered cheese crust. Again it has that lovely sweet soy sauce and cheesey creamy sauce that makes you want to lick the plate. And Mr NQN gave me his shell too-isn't he a prince? ;)
Marble Beef Steak (Black Angus)
Now we're onto the mains and this is a steak done simply on the teppan grill. It is a black Angus fillet that they cook on the teppan with melted butter. They then carve into slices and top with a honey roasted soy sauce. It is served with onion, red capsicum and divine mushrooms and some rice. The steak is tender and served medium rare and the rice soaks up the sweet soy sauce.
_Cross-cut Beef rib marinated overnight in chunky garlic sesame and shallot _
This had to be both of our favourite main-the Korean beef short rib dish has a limited number of serves per day and it comes as tender chunks of beef rib that really just melt in the mouth like butter. There is one piece of bone to show that it was beef rib I presume, and the flavours are of garlic, sesame and shallots with a sweet and spicy aspect to it too. And you know there are some dishes that make you start drooling as soon as you recall them? This is one of them.
This is an extra dish that we ordered and I have to admit here that we ordered this just because we saw it on the table right next to us and it looked really good. Sometimes I find soft shell crab to be quite capable of holding a lot of grease but this one is crispy and delicious and not greasy. It comes as four pieces of sushi filled with soy marinated soft shell crab which is then tempura fried. This is made into an inside out roll with cucumber and then drizzled with honey roasted teriyaki sauce and topped with black caviar.
The usual choice of sorbet was not available so we both received the chocolate mousse instead. It's a neat cube of mousse with a draping of set dark chocolate on top and shavings of white and dark chocolate as well as a white chocolate anglaise. And we have to remark that it is about the right size for us after all of this food.
At $50 a person it's great value for a set meal although a part of me knows that when we go back it will be just Mr NQN, the emperor prawns, the Atlantic salmon roll and a big pot of the beef short rib. A perfect date! ;)
So tell me Dear Reader, what do you do on date nights and what is your idea of a perfect date?
12 Princes Highway, Sylvania, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9522 2422
Open Tuesday to Sunday