Friday, June 14, 2013

Japanese beer at Biru Biru, then 'aisu kurimu' at Gelato Messina

Beer has a special place in my (drinking) heart, so I didn't need a whole lot of encouragement to visit the new Japanese craft beer bar Biru Biru in Darlinghurst.

Previously a Zushi outlet on Victoria Street, the same owners have transformed the very narrow space (right next door to Gelato Messina) into a dimly-lit Japanese izakaya with an impressive collection of Japanese craft beers alongside nibbles and skewers designed to soak up the alcohol.

Ocean Kujukuri Pilsner (left) and Yona Yona Ale tinnie (right)
at Biru Biru, Victoria Street, Darlinghurst
With Asahi pretty standard and popular across Sydney now, and even the microbrew Hitachino Nest range getting around town, it's exciting to discover new labels like the Ocean Kujukuri pilsner which is a refreshingly hop-py and bitter start, and the Yona Yona Ale which is a heavier and fruity American-style pale ale.

The Victorian-brewed Robot Ninja rice lager was a first for me; beer with an entirely new, softer flavour profile which I look forward to learning about and sampling more.

Fresh tuna salad, nashi pear, miso sesame dressing
Biru Biru seemed a little understaffed on the night we visited, although in the squishy space it's hard to see how they could fit in a third waitperson.

There was a bit of a wait for our first dish of raw tuna salad, topped with sticks of nashi pear that had me thinking of the Korean-style yukke raw beef dish.

The mild, creamy miso sesame dressing just coated the mixed leaves in this unusual but somewhat unconnected salad.

Seasonal vegie and prawn kushiyaki skewers
We went for a selection of kushiyaki grilled skewers which are great drinking buddies. The seasonal vegetable skewer was an unexciting foursome of cherry tomatoes, shallots, capsicum and zucchini while the prawn skewers of three coiled crustaceans per stick could have used some seasoning or garnish.

Pork belly and enoki kushiyaki skewers
Much more exciting were the petite pork belly skewers with enoki mushrooms rolled within. These were worlds away from the first skewers with fantastic seasoning and a char flavour, and great textures of the thinly sliced pork and delicate strands of mushroom.

Wagyu beef and red onionkushiyaki skewers
The skewers of wagyu beef were undoubtedly buttery in flavour with fat, although surprisingly tough even in their small cube form, but paired well with squares of Spanish onion.

Chicken and spring onion kushiyaki skewers
The traditional yakitori chicken skewers were great, meaty thigh renditions, grilled with a sweet, soy-based sauce and interspersed with softly cooked shallot segments.

Lotus root chips
I'm more accustomed to deep fried renkon lotus root chips as a starter but the slightly thicker cut of the ones at Biru Biru meant that they retained a vegetable crispness and moistness within the golden exterior. They almost felt healthy but were also great dipped into mayonnaise.

JPC - Japanese popcorn chicken, honey mayo
A clear winning dish of the night was the small pieces of popcorn chicken in a batter so crisp and crunchy that every bite was audible. The honey mayonnaise on the side was a well-rounded finishing touch.

Crisp fried school prawns
We continued on the deep fried route, as frankly a lot of the menu is deep fried and it goes well with a beer or three. The whole fried school prawns probably could have been a tad crisper but it's hard to get this dish (that's showing up all over Sydney) wrong.

Agedashi tofu
It was a generous serve of lightly battered tofu cubes in the agedashi tofu, which was less wet than most versions I've tried. Rather, the soft, squishy and just-crisp-on-the-outside tofu sat lightly in a shallow pool of the dashi broth-based sauce, soaking in flavour from the bottom.

Sticky pork ribs, chilli miso, kimchi
We finished with a meaty, fusion dish of thickly-sauced spicy pork ribs which were rather chewy, served atop kimchi fermented cabbage that seemed to have had just a light pickling.

Situated right next door to Sydney's original legendary gelateria, it's no surprise Biru Biru doesn't have a dessert menu.

We finished off our beers and hopped next door to Gelato Messina, into the queue for apple pie gelato and cherry sorbet.

Gelato from Gelato Messina, Victoria Street, Darlinghurst
Although you wouldn't think it, Japanese biru and aisu kurimu go together like a horse and carriage and make for great neighbours.

Biru Biru on Urbanspoon

Gelato Messina Darlinghurst on Urbanspoon


Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

Really wish I know how to down beer.. my bf and boys try to get me to do it but the taste just don't go well with me.

Michael Shen @ I'm Still Hungry said...

The food here looks very Japaz/tapas-like! The Kushiyaki in particular (Y)

missklicious said...

looks good! I'm always down for dinner in darlinghurst as it means messina for dessert!

Priscilla @ said...

JPC i love it!

I've never met a popcorn chicken I liked, so this place might be the turning point!

The Hungry Mum said...

That tuna salad - ooohhh yeah. #delish

Anonymous said...

I was sad when Zushi on Victoria St closed - it was definitely my 'local' as I live close by. Good to see they've kept the same owners though, must try this out soon!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

A friend told me about this place and really loved the beers there too!

Tina said...

Hi Tina - It just takes practice ;) That said, I can really only enjoy the first two or so...

Hi Michael - I've yet to check out Japaz but I do like this style of Japanese food.

Hi missklicious - Indeed, right next door!

Hi Priscilla - I loved this one, but haven't tried too many outside of fast food.

Hi The Hungry Mum - Mmmn, it sounded better than it was I think...

Hi talkandspoon - Yeah, not sure why they changed the concept but I think this one works well.

Hi Lorraine - Yeah, so many new, uncommon ones to try out :)


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