Intrigued by the idea of Scandinavian sushi? Sven-San at the Wollahra end of Oxford Street serves up a mix of dishes with either a Scandi twist or a Japanese one, or indeed both. Sushi is served as a cake and there's an emphasis on seafood.
"Hell yeah!" is the response from Danish born Viggo when I ask him whether he, Louise and his mum Madame Butterfly want to try Sven-San, a restaurant with Scandi/Japanese food.
I have to admit I'm intrigued too. Any day that I can have Japanese food is a good day in my opinion and I've been waiting for this meal all day long. So much so that when I find myself ravenous at 3pm and presented with food I demur after a couple of bites as I want to save my stomach for dinner. It means that I am famished and when Louise starts telling me about something at length all I can picture is sushi.
Sven-san has an outside section and booths that look like they belong to their juice and coffee bar Jozo. The actual restaurant looks to be indoors but given the chilly winter's evening we are glad we are sitting inside by the fireplace. Swedish born chef Michael Bengtsson was formerly at Vino e Cucina and Eat Thai.
There is a two page food menu and we choose a few things to share, more of the fusion variety so we can see the Japanese Scandi fusion on the plate.
The first thing to arrive it a duck liver parfait with vodka and lingonberry jelly. It also comes with bread croutons and sweet potato crisps. The parfait is very light with a nice sweetness from the lingonberries.
Sven's Fried chciken is a bit like chicken karaage and this is served with spicy togarashi mayonnaise. The pieces are juicy and moist and the mayonnaise gives a mild tingle of spice.
This was Madame Butterfly's only request. It's a prawn skagen toast, an open faced lightly toasted piece of bread topped with lots of mayonnaise, prawns, dill and roe. She's very happy with it and says that it tastes just like at home in Denmark. This was one of my favourite things too.
Louise divides the sushi cake up into 5 pieces and is sushi rice topped with overlapping layers of salmon sashimi. It's a pretty way of serving sushi and everyone is a fan of the presentation and taste.
I think we ended up ordering a lot because I was so famished and kept just ordering and ordering. The prawn popcorn was recommended to us and it's battered pieces of prawns served with a wasabi mayonnaise.
This was ordered for Viggo as he can't eat shellfish. It's 6 pieces of a roll of thinly sliced char grilled wagyu surrounding a soft onsen egg. It's all about soft textures here with both the wagyu and the egg soft and tender.
The wagyu beef gets a bit of a mixed reaction. Louise finds it a bit too smoky while Viggo loves the smokiness. The wagyu is very tender and juicy but does need a bit of seasoning-there's plain table salt on the table and a flaked salt would have done the beef more justice.
The only dish I didn't really go for is the prawn gnocchi. The flavour of the sauce was a very strong bisque whereas I was expecting a gentle nuttiness of brown butter kombu. If you love bisque then you would love this dish.
I think we were expecting some sushi in the fried sushi rice but I think that refers to the type of rice used. It's fried with shiitake mushroom, pumpkin and a 63° egg in the centre and shaved bonito. Viggo is intrigued and fascinated by the bonito flakes, an ingredient I was sure he had seen before and he swears that "it's alive!" because it sways.
It's time for dessert and apart from the inclusion of berries, they're not particularly Scandinavian so we go for something that we like the sound of. The chocolate cake is served warm and topped with salted caramel sauce and a golden gaytime gelato. I was most looking forward to the gelato as I love Golden Gaytimes (for those outside of Australia, it's an ice cream) but it's very light in the golden gaytime flavour. I end up preferring the chocolate cake part.
The tiramisu roll is a combination of a Swiss roll and a tiramisu. Because there is a lot of soft cake it ends up being a bit drier that a tiramisu which is usually just lovely soft mascarpone and a bit of biscuit. But by now I'm so incredibly full that I don't need more than a couple of bites...Okay three.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you ever eat less in anticipation of a meal? What did you think of the Scandi Japanese combination?
This meal was independently paid for.
495 Oxford St, Paddington NSW 2021
+61 2 9131 8454