When Sophia asked me if I could find a Japanese restaurant in the city I thought for a second. All of my friends have their own food quirks and preferences, certainly I do, but Sophia's big thing is that she doesn't like raw fish. So at first thought Japanese was an odd choice but if anyone has visited Japan knows, there's more to Japanese food that sushi and sashimi.
Take Kuro, the new Japanese restaurant on Kent Street. Situated in the middle of a lot of office blocks it stands out with its golden lit minimalist white cup decoration among the grey concrete buildings. Kuro means Black in Japanese and we are visiting for dinner, where it becomes fine dining Japanese style.
During the day there's the brew bar café with a few snacks and there's also the chef's table Teramoto by Kuro with executive chef Taka Teramoto of Restaurant Pages and Florilège. The Head Chef is Nobu Maruyama of Bar H. This visit was pre-COVID but the items on the menu remain the same but diners now have a $80 a head set menu.
Mango + Cardamom $15, Coconut + Matcha $15
The cocktail list is tempting and is divided into sections like Refreshing, Sour, Bitter and Fruity so you get more of an idea of a cocktail before you order it. Sophia and I flip to the mocktails. She orders the mango, coconut and cardamom mocktail after saying, "Do I like cardamom? I don't think I've ever tried it." What comes out is a different drink from what we expect. With mango, coconut and cardamom we envisage a Mango Weiss Bar with cardamom. Instead it is a mango syrup infused heavily with cardamom, so intense that cardamom is the dominant flavour. There's also a bitter edge to it giving this mocktail a cocktail feel to it. Conversely my coconut and matcha cocktail with coconut, pineapple, grape, citrus and matcha syrup poured at the table is one of the most popular and I can see why. Sweet, creamy and coconutty I can't imagine anyone not loving this sweet confection.
KURO Chiffon / Ikura / Nori creme fraiche (1 piece) $5
We both love trying as much as possible so we don't mind sharing the Kuro chiffon cake, a savoury chiffon cake made with charcoal powder and topped with ikura roe and a nori creme fraiche. It's spongey and light and given salty pops from the ikura.
King Prawn / Arare / Prawn mayo (1 piece) $14
I loved the prawn snack which is one enormous king prawn, coated in arare rice and deep fried and served with prawn mayonnaise and some of the deep fried shell. It's so crunchy and delicious although I would have loved a bit more of the prawn mayonnaise. They fry the prawn so that the head and tail are crunchy and can be eaten. I take the head and Sophia takes the tail.
Wagyu tsukune / Sustainable (1 piece) $12
The next bite is a riff on chicken tsukune or meatball yakitori. It's made with wagyu and is served on a branch with dried cabbage flakes on top. The tsukune is rich and melting in texture and although the dried cabbage goes everywhere it is very tasty and caramelised and sweet as onion.
Kuro Fried Chicken / Ume / Bonito $18
Put fried chicken on the menu and I just have to order it. Luckily Sophia also loves fried chicken but when they sat it down my mind goes through the rolodex of what we ordered thinking, "Did we order burnt cauliflower?". They use charcoal powder to give the batter its colour and it is topped with bonito flakes and a wonderful sour umeboshi plum gel that balances the oiliness of the fried chicken perfectly.
Chawanmushi / Scampi Broth/ Blue Swimmer Crab $16
The chawanmushi is all soft, smooth textures. It's mild and subtle but not boring in the way that the Japanese do so pleasingly. There's a scampi broth, oil and cauliflower puree as well as a couple of chunks of tender blue swimmer crab meat.
Sticky Mochi Rice/ Charred Chicken/Egg Yolk/ Crispy Bonito $18
Another favourite item is mochi. I think I was expecting something similar to sticky rice or glutinous rice but mochi rice is less sticky, more like regular rice. It comes with tender pieces of charred chicken, crispy bonito flakes and an egg yolk that they recommend that we mix up. It's a nice dish, subtle in flavour although I think I was still hoping for something more chewy in texture.
Peach Compote/Vanilla/Hibiscus $12
It's time for dessert and we choose one each. Sophia's choice is the peach compote which is a chunks of yellow peaches in a hibiscus jelly and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Mochi/Coconut Parfait/ Mango/Desert Lime $13
Meanwhile, with my mochi itch not fully scratched I had to order the mochi dessert. This is both of our favourite. It's a rectangle of coconut parfait, strawberries, mango and tiny desert limes with a blanket of mochi on top!
So tell me Dear Reader, what sort of cocktails do you prefer? Refreshing, Sour, Bitter and Fruity? And do you eat prawn heads or tails?
This meal was independently paid for.
368 Kent St, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 9262 1350
Monday to Friday 8am–11pm