I previously mentioned that Monsieur Poisson and I had a lot of trouble getting into Azuma Kushiyaki to try their Sugar Hit in October, and it was only by making a reservation for dinner that we managed to extend our stay into the allocated timeslot. But of course it wasn’t just the lure of pretty desserts that drew us into coming here – we had heard many good things about the food and especially their specialty of barbequed skewers. So in the name of our anniversary we headed there for dinner, with a view to casually slip in a Sugar Hit dessert.
Upon first entering the restaurant you are met with neat rows of bottles of sake and wine glasses as well as the unmistakable aroma of barbequed meats. The interior is brightly lit with homely-looking tables and friendly service. I am almost disappointed when we received fairly standard chopstick rests, as opposed to the ‘interesting’ ones reported by other bloggers.
We glance down the extensive list of kushiyaki as well as the rather large laminated menu, and my eye is immediately caught by ‘Crispy chicken skin’. Monsieur Poisson actually mis-orders it as ‘crispy skin chicken’ but the waitress is not phased and our order arrives as what we intend.
They look like thick triangles of blistery deep-fried pastry. The lightly battered portions of skin are very well drained of oil and are wonderful with a squirt of lemon juice. We also have fun dipping them in the colourful flavoured salts alongside – there’s curry salt, green tea salt and sansho pepper.
Next to arrive is Monsieur Poisson’s lusted after uni sashimi, which are presented on shiso leaves resting on a bed of ice chips. The uni pieces are on the large side and although there are pieces of differing shades of colour, the taste is the same regardless. The uni is very fresh, sweet and not too mushy; and this proves to be the first time that I actually enjoy eating it.
This is followed by a flurry of plates as our kushiyaki arrive and we almost run out of room on our small table for two. Firstly we have quail eggs which are a glossy dark soy colour and I only wish there was more of them. The ‘Shiitake with minced prawn’ are perfectly shaped and are cooked just enough so that the prawn meat hasn’t started to shrink away from the sides.
The ‘Wild scallop with soy and homemade garlic oil’ skewer is Monsieur Poisson’s choice. I am surprised by the appearance of squared-off pieces of scallop when they arrive but assume it has something to do with ease of threading/cooking. They’re smoky without being over-charred with the garlic oil adding just that bit of bite. Our ‘Wagyu tongue’ skewer and ‘Chicken giblets with soy and butter’ arrive on the same plate, with the beef tongue expectedly juicy and the chicken giblets being squeakily crunchy with just a hint of butter flavour.
As chawanmushi has become our recent love, we order it when we see it on the menu here. It is served to our table on its own heat mat but without a spoon. I remove the lid to inspect it whilst Monsieur Poisson attempts to procure a spoon, and notice that it is lighter in colour than the previous one we had in Brisbane. Again, it is sublimely smooth but this time with hidden treasures of shiitake, prawns, chicken, spinach and gingko nuts.
And continuing on with my mentaiko obsession, I order an ‘Onigiri with mentaiko’. The rice ball is a compact shape that is easy to eat but the mentaiko is a little different to what I’ve had in the past by still having its ‘sheath’ intact. It makes for a slightly chewier experience but smokily salty nonetheless.
Our final dish is one that is again ordered to honour Dr King’s love of rice. It is the ‘Salmon zosui’, described in the menu as Japanese risotto, but arrives bearing resemblance to a Chinese dish known as ‘pau faan’ (泡飯) which has cooked rice mixed into soup.
This dish is served in a mini cast iron pot and contains generous pieces of salmon which are thankfully not overly fishy. An egg has been broken over the hot stock so that it is flash-cooked and floating ethereally on top of the rice when it arrives. It is warming and soul-restoring with plenty of chopped chives sprinkled on top.
And then came our slightly sneaky way of enjoying Azuma Kushiyaki’s Sugar Hit for dessert. The meal in itself was great and was only made even better by their spectacular Sugar Hit, as well as the chocolate mousse Monsieur Poisson enjoyed from their standard dessert menu.
Ground floor of Regent Place, 501 George St (near cnr Bathurst St), Sydney NSW
Tel: (02) 9267 7775
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri lunch from 12pm
dinner from 6pm
Sat dinner only from 6pm
Sun dinner only from 5:30pm