Sunday, May 15, 2011

Classically hidden – Kabuki Shoroku

Not that I’ve been to Japan (yet), but I’m told the out-of-the-way location and serenely calm interior of Kabuki Shoroku in the Sydney CBD is very Japanese.

In a quiet arcade between Clarence and Kent Streets, pass through traditional noren into a very zen garden with stepping stones amid pebbles on the ground, into the restaurant where you’ll likely be greeted by a kimono-clad waitress.

Entrance to Kabuki Shoroku, off Clarence Street, Sydney
She leads us to seats at the sushi bar with an elegant deferential air, while the busy sushi chef welcomes us with a smile and “irrashaimase”. Handed menus, we agree that sushi and sashimi are a must, especially from our prime vantage point, so we simply ask the chef for sashimi to start.

Sashimi (l-r, salmon, kingfish, tuna)
He sets us each up with wooden stands on the sushi bar itself and proceeds to slice thick pieces of salmon, then tuna and kingfish; depositing each pile of fish on the stand after slicing.

The fish is exceedingly fresh, with the simple dip into soy sauce and wasabi barely necessary. The tuna is my favourite on this occasion, and I think the chef delights in seeing us so thoroughly enjoy our sashimi.

Some other tables' garfish dish

Garfish sashimi

Mackerel aburi sushi
We request sushi next, and the chef is a little bemused when we seem keen on mackerel done in the aburi style – a blowtorch blazing the surface of the fish as it sits on rice nigiri style.

Unusual as it was, it was really tasty with the heat seeming to release oils and thus more flavour from the fish, pairing well with the drop of mustard sauce.

The sushi chef blowtorching the scampi
Next we get a taste of luxe with the scampi aburi sushi. I remember the sad times when I didn’t know what scampi was – but now enlightened for many a year I adore the shellfish, preferably closer to raw than cooked.

Scampi aburi sushi
This is how it was served here, with a spicy mayonnaise sauce that enhanced the creaminess of the soft, yielding scampi, and flying fish roe for more texture and saltiness. I get shivers thinking back to it and would have continued having these all night if I thought my budget could extend that far.

Deep fried whitebait
The pile of pale fried whole whitebait, with seafood flakes in the batter, are impressively crunchy while subtle in flavour. This is one of the few stare-at-you foodstuffs that I can handle.

Soft shell crab
The magnetic attraction of soft shell crab prevails again – here four halves standing upright, showing off their gangly legs. Seasoned with the side dish of a salt mixture and not oily, this is a fine example of the ubiquitous dish.

Wagyu beef and vegetables
While Kabuki Shoroku is known as a Japanese seafood restaurant, we couldn’t go past the wagyu hot rock option on the menu. It arrives as a small dish of meat and vegetables, and a tabletop ‘hotrock’ stove, heated and ready to go.

Wagyu on the hot rock
After delicately laying the highly marbled beef slices onto the hotrock, sizzle and smoke ensue as did an oil splat-dodging game while waiting for it to cook. It doesn’t take long to reach a medium-rare state, and when it does, it’s immediately dunked into waiting dipping sauces and then my mouth.

Wagyu sears on the hot rock
After a few cautious chews of the hot-off-the-grill beef, the fat hits with buttery caresses of the tongue, followed by some lip-smackingly beefy yet tender meat. We break it up with some grilled vegetables and do it all again with the beef.

A rich, filling dish – ideal with rice – that I would definitely order again when I'm not wearing light-coloured silk.

Green tea ice cream
Ice cream as dessert is actually included with the meal, and we elect one each of the green tea and black sesame options. The latter is actually light on flavour despite its speckled black appearance, while the green tea seems to have double the usual flavour – not a bad thing, actually.

Black sesame ice cream
Served unfussily with a wafer biscuit and a spoon cut on an angle – very cool, a little sci-fi – the ice cream was a lovely, simple and cooling wind-down to an unexpectedly big meal.

Waddling back out to the zen garden and passing back out through the noren, we leave the arcade back to a quiet Clarence Street like nothing had happened – except for some high quality, genuinely traditional Japanese hospitality and food. Perhaps best to keep that hidden.

Kabuki Shoroku on Urbanspoon

25 comments:

aptronym said...

I used to love going to Kabuki Shoroku, haven't been there in years. Still looks fabulous. I really need to revisit it!

thang @ noodlies said...

Everything looks so good, especially aburi sushi, which i've only recently discovered.

The wafer at the end was a tad disappointing though.

Gianna@TheEmptyFridge said...

What a relaxing and almost serene dining experience in the heart of the city. I'm still in awe of that presentation with the garfish.. So elegant!

missklicious said...

I love aburi sushi, and this little hidden gem is a great place too

Tina said...

Hi apotronym - Yep, it looks like it's one of those places that have just been there forever :)

Hi thang - Oh you've been missing out on aburi zushi? So sad... :)

Hi Gianna - I thought it was pretty awesome too ;)

Hi missklicious - Yep, charred and raw is a great combo

mademoiselle délicieuse said...

Haven't been here for a few years but definitely remember the shuffling kimono-clad waitresses! Their service was quiet and unintrusive and the food...well, you've just reminded me I need to get back there!

Simon Food Favourites said...

that soft shell crab looks like crispy perfection. i must ry! :-)

Dolly said...

the guard fish looks amazing!

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

Love these hidden gems. The foods look fantastic.

sugarpuffi said...

omg this places looks awesome! the little walkway is enough for me to try this place out. is the wagyu hot rock expensive? really want to try it.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Their presentation is quite arresting! And that garfish dish is such a star!

Tina said...

Hi mademoiselle délicieuse - It's just so peaceful in there; a real haven away from city life.

Hi Simon - Pretty darn good!

Hi Dolly - It wasn't our dish, but I wished it was!

Hi Ellie - Finding them is half the fun!

Hi sugarpuffi - From memory, the hot rock was about $30... but don't quote me :S

Hi Lorraine - Everything is presented just so :)

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Wow what an awesome little hidden gem! Hopefully it remains a hidden gem... ;)

OohLookBel said...

What a find, though it sounds like it's been there for a while. I definitely want visit, the food you had looks brilliant.

Jacq said...

My friend keeps telling me to go here but I haven't had the chance yet. The food looks fantastic though, especially that aburi scampi!

blushingstrawberries said...

This food looks incredibly fresh, I can almost taste it!

MissPiggy said...

I have a feeling this place is under the office tower I used to work at on Market Street...many many moons ago. Looks so lovely - great photos too.

Chanel said...

Wow! I would love to try their sashimi - I'm a new fan of it, and theirs looks so fresh.

How about the presentation of the garfish! And the marbling of the wagyu? Wow :D

Tina said...

Hi Angie - Yes and no... It's a double-edged sword :)

Hi Bel - From what I've heard, it's been there forever! :)

Hi Jacq - Oh, even thinking about the scampi makes me swoon...

Hi blushingstrawberries - It sure was fresh!

Hi MissPiggy - Yes, I believe it;s close to Market Street...

Hi Chanel - Both the garfish and wagyu were definitely impressive..!

lateraleating said...

Great looking food, more authentic than most places around here. "Stare-at-you foodstuffs", LOL!

Tina said...

Hi lateraleating - Well, they do! Some people I know love eating eyes from whole steamed fish... Crazy, eye know!

susan said...

I have never ever heard of this place. The sushi looks amazing though and the deep fried whitebait!

Tina said...

Hi Susan - I'd never heard of it before being taken there either!

Forager @ The Gourmet Forager said...

Looks like a great find! I'll have to find some time to try it out - looks very authentic!

Tina said...

Hi Forager - It was! A great experience :)

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