I took my lovely sister here as a birthday gift, using a Living Social voucher – $37 for a two-course banquet for us both. The banquet usually costs $38 each so it was a big saving.
The first thing we liked was the use of smooth black stones as chopstick rests. A nice touch.
The banquet consisted of edamame, Japanese pickles, beef tataki, sushi and sashimi, assorted tempura, teriyaki fish and rice. When the beef tataki arrived my first reaction was one of slight disappointment. With just four slices for the two of us to share it looked so… stingy. I suppose it made sense though, as it’s not a dish you can eat a lot of. Plus the banquet menu is usually for a minimum of 6 people so I guess usually it’d look much more generously proportioned.
Anyway, the beef was good quality and was complemented by a well-balanced soy and vinegar dressing. Sadly the garlic tasted a little coarse, as if it had been minced much earlier and left to oxidise. The edamame, however, were tender and fresh, and thankfully not cold from the fridge as some places serve them. And I like getting Japanese pickles too. I like getting anything pickled. Pickles rock.
Next came the sushi and sashimi and I was very happy to see the balance was tipped in favour of the sashimi, my favourite 🙂 It was delicious.
We were drinking one of my Vintage Cellars mixed Marlborough sav blanc specials ($8 a bottle! Score!) which was really yummy. Funnily enough it went really well with the sushi and sashimi. I really know nothing about wine but I know what tastes good to me, and the combination of the wine with the sashimi seemed to bring out a kind of lemon rind flavour in the wine. Mental note: Buy more Fairhall Cliffs 2010 sauvingnon blanc.
The surprise of the night was the teriyaki fish – beautifully cooked, flaky white fish fillets glazed (not drowned) in a sticky teriyaki sauce with toasted sesame seeds to give it extra depth of flavour, served with a piece of lemon to give it a little touch of freshness. And an accompanying salad for a bit of textural contrast. Yum.
The tempura was equally good, with an impressive crunch while still being very light and delicate. Two prawns, one piece of pumpkin, one piece of eggplant, one piece of sweet potato and a green bean… AND a piece of lotus root! Look how pretty it is!
We enjoyed our meal, and while I’d definitely eat there again I think I’d just order a la carte – $38 seems a lot of money and while I was satisfied I’m sure I could order more cheaply! Another point, the atmosphere downstairs is ok but feels a bit basic – if you’re booking make sure you ask to be seated upstairs which is decorated prettily with noren, bonsai trees and enormous koi and paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling. Ahhhh nice.