Kenji & Guylian Café

Sitting at the counter of Kenji, your back faces one of the world’s iconic landmarks – the Sydney Harbour Bridge – but the dozen or so counter seats at this open air eatery make it feel like you’re sitting at a kitchen island bench as there is nothing to separate you from the action of your food being prepared. (Well, albeit the kitchen of a very expensive place which has views of Sydney Harbour.) There is no barrier, no glass partition, no sushi conveyer, nor chilled display cabinet. It’s quite comical when our order is taken by a waitress standing behind us and moments later we hear the whir of the docket being printed from a machine sitting just in front of Monsieur Poisson, whilst I sit directly facing a sink.

We are familiar with Kenji-san’s skilful sushi and sashimi from having eaten at Koi previously. Kenji is Kenji-san’s latest venture and we notice a few familiar items such as the ‘Seared scallop carpaccio’ on the menu. We start our dinner, however, with the ‘Small chef's selection sashimi’ which is all about the fresh produce and nothing else. Monsieur Poisson is a little disappointed as he was hoping to order uni (sea urchin) as well but, alas, is it not uni season.

It is the proximity of the seating and the casual setting which affords us an opportunity to speak with Kenji-san. We discover the high standards he sets for his food and his passion for quality ingredients. He insists on using Japanese nori sheets which cost $10 per pack and rice from Japan which he finds less gluggy than local variants. When we tell him we really enjoyed his version of the ‘California Roll’, something which is inherently not Japanese, he offers a simple reason and justification for its $15 price tag – the filling is a combination of scallop and crab meat. As in, it is real seafood and not the usual seafood stick/extender stuff.

The ‘Soft Shell Crab salad’ is a jumble of mixed leaves and crispy crab legs with a light, tangy dressing topped with matchsticks of crunchy radish. It is the perfect contrast to the steaming bowl of ‘Tempura Udon’ where the crunchy tempura prawns are cooked before your eyes and served separately on the side (yay!) negating any soup-induced sogginess.

A short stroll later and we find ourselves at Guylian Café wanting something sweet. We share a larger than expected milk iced chocolate (because Monsieur Poisson is not a big fan of dark chocolate, unlike me) which comes with a little square of Guylian chocolate for nibbling on.

And then comes our plate of petits fours which Monsieur Poisson has devised. As soon as you step in the store there is a display cabinet of these dainty creations for takeaway purchase, but because they had so captured our attention we wanted to try them in house. Monsieur Poisson chooses several and we are surprised when they are presented with the extra effort of chocolate and fruit gel decoration on the plate – thoughtful!

A choc fudge slice sprinkled with the finest trail of salt flakes. A passionfruit cake-let with a mini-syringe of raspberry sauce for injecting into the centre. A tiny tiramisu in a miniature chocolate teacup! And a bite-sized lemon meringue tart. Everything was so adorable and had Monsieur Poisson talking about Sugar Hits again – not long to go now!

Opera Kitchen, Lower Concourse, Sydney Opera House NSW
Tel: 9247 0480

Kenji Japanese @ Opera Kitchen on Urbanspoon
Shop 10, Opera Quays, 3 Macquarie St (entrance on harbour foreshore next to Dendy Cinemas), Sydney NSW
Tel: 8274 7900

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe on Urbanspoon

happy eating!


  1. I love the meatines of Udona nd I envy you the soft shell crabs - having heard they are a delight but never having tasted one before. Enjoy your weekend!

  2. that mini syringe is absolutely one of the cutest things I've ever seen!!

  3. oh that cake looks superb! i have always wondered about kenji! and yes - not long to sugar hits :) love the photos!

  4. $15 Scallop and crabmeat roll? Excuse me while I stab around in blind happiness.

  5. Personally, I judge Japanese restaurants on how good their tempura udon is - top marks for non-soggy tempura! Great location, too (dessert at Guylian sounds lovely for afters).

  6. That passionfruit cake-let has caught my eye. Only because of that mini pipette! So freaking cute!!

  7. ive yet to have a 'real' california roll with the real deal inside! can't wait to check out this place next time i visit botanical garden (in spring!)

  8. Ahh…the first foodie visit to Sydney, I ate at Guylian Café. I dig how they give you chocolates with your hot chocolate. I was pretty surprised at how generous in size it was…it’s really made for 2 people! LOL

  9. Kenji looks absolutely fresh and delicious. I can't believe the 'mini-syringe of raspberry sauce'- whoever created that had an imagination! Sounds like a lovely day.

  10. OH YYUM! tempura prawn! That never ceases to disapoint! and the plate of petite fours looks absolutely artistically delicious!

  11. I love guylian cafe -- when there for a friend's birthday -- the decor is sooo cool! Great staff too.

  12. whoa that tuna and kingfish looks so fresh and tasty! and wow at the petite fours!

  13. oh wow- food looks great, love the photos! and, that mini desserts platter looks sooo good yummy :)

  14. I was drooling from start to finish. Thank you for sharing such an inspired review. I hope you had a good Friday...and are staying cool! I'm looking forward to a weekend of baking and relaxing. I'm glad I stumbled on your blog tonight. Happy day!

  15. Is nice to know I don't need to jump directly back on a plane to experience fresh beautifully presented Japanese food in a great atmosphere. The dessert presentation is absolutely stunning.

  16. Hey Kitchen Butterfly, I think "meatiness" is a most apt word for describing udon, well at least when it's done well and not soggy =)

    Hey Gastronomy Gal, those mini syringes/pipettes seem to be the latest thing - saw lots of them at Taste of Sydney this year.

    Hey gastronomous anonymous, Kenji is not the fine-diner which Koi was but the food is definitely of the same quality.

    Hey Ninja, please don't stab me by accident...

    Hey Bel, and the tempura batter was so crunchy! You can see all the "flaky" bits in the photo, mmmm...

    Hey Phuoc, lol the pipette appeals to your inner scientist, I see =p

    Hey Viv, the weather will be good then for sitting (half) in the open and admiring the view!

    Hey Adrian, and then there's the hot chcolates at Lindt Cafe as well...

    Hey Keely, and Kenji-san is such a humble man too =) First spotted those syringes at Taste of Sydney where you injected jam filling into donuts!

    Hey Mary, we completely didn't expect the elaborate plating for the petits fours!

    Hey Shaun, agree, love the decor at Guylian's cafes!

    Hey sugarpuffi, have yet to be disappointed with Kenji-san's sashimi =)

    Hey betty, desserts always look pretty!

    Hey Monet, thanks for dropping by and your kind comments! *blush* Hope you enjoyed your baking.

    Hey sara, there's nothing to replace the whole experience which is Japan but at least you can get some good Japanese food in Sydney.


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