Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Azuma Kushiyaki @ CBD

Today I met up with a good old friend of mine, whom I haven't seen in ages. She is also a fellow foodie and the bulk of our conversation flows around recent cravings and must-try eateries. I've been meaning to try Azuma since 2 years ago now, and I remember walking in to the Chifley Plaza one with my mom one day, only to learn that you have to book in advance. We were captivated by the very traditional wooden ramp and paper walls. I don't know how the interior is at the Wynyard restaurant but the George St one had a modern Japanese look to it.

We were so excited that we began chatting as soon as we sat down for a good 10 minutes. When we finally had a look at the menu, we ordered the Grilled Eel Set, Wagyu Steak Set and the Agedashi Tofu as an entree.

The agedashi tofu came out with the main meals with each tofu piece coated in a soft tempura batter. The coating actually stayed on when I tried to break it into pieces, which isn't uncommon at the lower priced Japanese restaurants. The mushroom sauce was warm and fresh and along with the spring onions, the mixture of flavours was beautifully oriental.

The tri-coloured tempura salts. The yellow one had a hint of curry powder added to it. No matter how many times we tasted the green one, we couldn't discern what it was!

The Grilled Eel Set. The eel was soft and well marinated. The marinade wasn't overpowering and was sufficient to bring out the full flavour of the eel. There was so much of everything else that I had forgotten about the eel until I was nearly full. I'll even have to compliment the rice. It was fluffy and light but the pieces were so small I had to mush them into a corner before I could pick it up in one clump. And I'm Asian too.

On the top left hand corner, there are seared tuna with grated daikon. It's buried underneath all the green so I thought they were slices of beef until I uncovered it. Diakon is essential to completing the Japanese flavour and it was so in this case as well. It added an extra softness to the already tender tuna and because it was slightly seared, it didn't suddenly hit you with the raw fish flavour.

On the bottom right hand corner are assorted tempuras. Zucchini, pumpkin, sweet potato and prawn. The prawn tempura isn't your normal long prawn tempura that you get at Japanese restaurants. It's curled and the size of the zucchini but it was plump and juicy. I tried the curry salts more than anything else. It doesn't linger but that momentary curry pungency makes eating simple tempura more fun.

The Wagyu Steak Set. It was served medium rare on a hot plate with a few pieces of veggies. There was an abundant amount of soy garlic sauce which balanced out the fattiness of the wagyu beef. The steak itself was very tender and succulent.

I've always had a thing for bentos - the variety and burst of flavours. It's simple yet so elegant. Even better if I'm on a train to somewhere far, far away. That's one experience I regret not doing on my Japan trip. Next time, I want to try the one at Chifley Plaza, even if I have to wait a few months. I'm sure it'll be worth the wait.

Azuma Kushiyaki on Urbanspoon

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