Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Kenji @ Opera Kitchen, Sydney

I know that I have been very slack on the blog side of things lately, but Cheesecake Boy and I have just come back from Perth, and we are finding it hard to adjust to the measly three hours time difference.  I was meant to get this post out a while ago, but I became uninspired.  I guess you'll understand when you get into this.  I was reluctant to post this experience, but I guess at the end of it all, it was how the dinner panned out, and it really was out of our control.

Spring fever definitely hit Cheesecake Boy and I in early September, when the weather was just stunning.  This led to us roaming the CBD after work a lot more frequently and enjoying the sometimes lovely warmer nights that we have been irregularly blessed with earlier last month.  One of these strolls led us to Kenji at the Opera House.  I had been meaning to make our way to Kenji for ages, as I truly loved Kenji Nishinakagawa's sushi when he was at Koi in Woolwich.  

Perfect weather, check, gorgeous view of the Harbour Bridge to my left, check... Now, if only I could give my seal of approval for the service.  As soon as we were seated we were asked if we wanted to try the special being the "obento tower" and what we wanted to drink, without even been given a chance to look at the menus, so the waitress might be a bit too eager, so we asked for some time.  Unfortunately, I had to make a quick phone call, and when I was in the middle of my call, the same waitress asked us if we were ready to order drinks.  I'm baffled as I was on the phone still and she just stands there.  Thankfully, Cheesecake Boy asked for five more minutes.

I feel the eyes watching me, and as soon as I hang up she makes a beeline to us again.  I easily made up my mind that the Mount Horrocks Riesling is the way I want to go that night, and Cheesecake Boy decided on his usual order of Corona.

Mount Horrocks Reisling '10 Clare Valley, $12 and Corona, $9

Cheesecake Boy and I are the type to take a while to decide with an unfamiliar menu.  I know we were taking our time, but it's only because we love our food too much, and like to get it right.  However, we were not given much room to breathe again, and we have again been suggested to take up the "obento tower".  We finally relented, and caved in.

The "obento tower" came with two bowls of miso soup, and there's nothing out of the ordinary here.  The miso soup was the standard kind, but it kept me warm from the the cool breeze that was developing.

Miso soup

The "obento tower" emerged shortly after and was presented on three tiers, that automatically made me think of high tea.  The bottom tier consisted of assorted fresh sashimi and two oysters, followed by the middle tier that was a mixed sushi plate and finally the top tier was a selection of fried seafood and vegetable tempura with tartare sauce.

Obento tower, $78.50

Cheesecake Boy and I love sashimi, so we attacked the assorted sashimi tier first.  The oysters were refreshingly nice and the sashimi was fresh and plump pieces.  However, the sashimi here does not blow us away like our favourite sashimi combo at Sake Restaurant & Bar, but we still enjoyed the selection of salmon, tuna, kingfish and bonito.

Assorted sashimi and oysters

The middle tier was an array of sushi.  I really enjoyed the freshness and quality of the tuna and avocado rolls, but Cheesecake Boy was much harder to impress as he thought they were quite standard.  However, our meal took another turn for the worse when I was consuming a piece of the kingfish sushi, as not only did one fish bone turn to two, but before I was about to swallow I managed to dislodge one last fish bone from my mouth.  I've had plenty of sushi before, and I can honestly say I have never ever had a bone in any of my sushi or sashimi for that matter, and to find three bones in one piece, left me flabbergasted.  Unfortunately, I also found our pieces of raw fish to be not as fresh on our pieces of sushi compared to our previous plate of sashimi.

Mixed sushi plate
Bones in my kingfish sushi

Our last tier consisted of a combination of crumbed fish pieces, calamari and prawns with vegetable tempura.  The seafood was perfectly crispy, but they didn't do anything for us.  The tartare was nice and creamy.  However, I was after something a bit more inspired, after some major set backs that night.  I found the vegetable tempura batter, much too thick to my disappointment, as I had thoroughly enjoyed a wonderfully light tempura at Ju Gu Mu & Shimbashi the previous week. 

Selection of fried seafood and vegetable tempura

I can't tell you how devastated I was with our experience at Kenji @ Opera Kitchen, as I'd been really looking forward to this based on my fantastic experience at Koi previously.  I've never not tipped a restaurant, and this was the first time when I didn't leave a cent extra.  We all have unlucky experiences, and unfortunately it was our turn this time.  However, I guess at the end of the day nothing brightens things up again like having an ice cream cone in one hand and ending the day with a ferry ride home with your other half on such a gorgeous day, even if we had to work earlier.  To make things even better though, there was a lovely couple on the ferry who gave overheard that we needed tissues, and they offered some to Cheesecake Boy for his dripping ice cream cone.  It's really nice to experience an act of kindness, especially from a random that you don't know.

Dining away, Dumpling Girl.

Kenji @ Opera Kitchen
Sydney Opera House
Lower Concourse
Sydney NSW 2000

Ph: (02) 9247 0480 

Kenji Japanese @ Opera Kitchen on Urbanspoon


Lil said...

That's a shame =[ I also dislike overeager waitstaff! It feels like they're rushing you or suffocating you. I once went to a restaurant where they asked us how everything was going at least 5 times throughout the night. It was nice at first but it was a bit overbearing and awkward towards the end. Bones in sushi = NO!

Tina@foodboozeshoes said...

Oh dear, bones. Very dangerous... not cool. The sushi high tea platter is an interesting concept too...

rockahenry said...

bones in sushi....
can't say ive ever heard of that either....

at least the weather was nice and the wine good?

Jen said...

I've never found bones in my sushi. That's so wrong!

Dumpling Girl said...

Hi Lil, the whole experience I think was a terrible shame, I think the bones were the last straw though.

Hello Tina, yeah I almost missed the third one, I guess my youth of eating chicken feet and whole steamed fish came in handy.

Hey rockahenry, Mount Horrocks makes some of my favourite Rieslings, and is so hard to come across, so that was a highlight :)

Hello Jen, me either until then, usually Cheesecake Boy is the unlucky one with the things he's found in his food. I guess it was bound to be my turn eventually.

Vivian - vxdollface said...

aaw i like the idea of the obento tower (yeah reminds me of high tea!) and there is a fairly good selection though it is a shame about the sashimi quality, bones & batter :( they're pretty big bones too!

Dumpling Girl said...

Hi Vivian, the concept was good. Unfortunately the other components didn't match up.