Come dine with me: Kuon Omakase, Sydney

For a few years, I did a lot of food blogging. It was a fun way to share my passion for eating! And the website Zomato gamified it, so the more reviews I did, the higher I would rank on their list of Sydney food reviewers. I thought it was pretty fun. And there was even a period where I’d get invited to events and even some special meals.

But life moves on. Restaurants are doing it tough. And they shouldn’t be offering free meals or deals unless it really helps them. Zomato basically closed down and food reviews have migrated to Google reviews, which seems smarter, easier and democratic. Some reviewers, like Does My Bomb Look Big In This? – my favourite food reviewer – now post reviews on Instagram and Facebook, rather than on a traditional blog.

As for us, we eat out much less frequently, and from the COVID lockdowns and onwards, have become passionate about cooking at home (and making pretty great cocktails). So, a meal has to be pretty special to inspire me to do a blog post, and my meal at Kuon Omakase, in Darling Square, for my 55th birthday, was very special. I also liked pretending that it’s my restaurant, Quan Omakase, but Chef Aki explained Kuon means in Japanese ‘a long period’, or as Google tells me today, an ‘eternity’.

I’d heard about the restaurant since it opened, four years ago, I think, but with only 12 seats, I knew that we’d need to plan it carefully (you can make reservations on the first Tuesday of the month for the next month). I got the reservation in early June for 7 July. Hurrah. We grabbed the early sitting, at 5.30pm. We arrived and were seated (the second last couple to arrive, I was happy we weren’t the last).

Chef Aki prepares or finishes each course, in front of you, and then lays it on the counter, where one of the two lovely and efficient servers then move it in front of you.

The Seiyo Shoro Chawanmushi, with shaved Australian truffle, and little pieces of lily root and mochi was a divine start. It smelled so good!

The sashimi was latchet, wrapped around thin spears of vegetables, which you then smear with monkfish liver and wrap it in a sheet of nori: a perfect bite. That liver was so good!

The appetizer plate, Hassun, was pretty mind-blowing, as each element was so refined and so delicious. Miso cured black cod (my favourite), baby eggplant, steamed abalone, a tiger prawn, gingko nuts, mackerel roe and tamagoyaki (a very delicate version of the egg omelette where white fish was whipped into the eggs before it was cooked).

The tempura was so good, that I’m sad that we missed going to the Kuon Tempura outpost, which has recently shut down. Fried in some super expensive sesame oil, imported from Japan, these were so light and crisp. I’ve never had scampi tempura, which was amazing, though the scallop and mushroom tempura were of the same calibre. Oh, and served with a curry salt, which we were warned would be addictive, and it was!

The sunomono course was the tiniest firefly squid. Almost too cute to eat. With those little seaweed pearl things and some other seaweed.

And then, what followed was Omakase Sushi, with Chef Aki moulding each piece of rice by hand, for each sushi, for each patron. I was very excited to try Yamaguchi Tora Fugu (pufferfish) for the first time, tasting to me a bit more like raw squid than a fish. Husband didn’t like this one!

Next, ‘Ara’ Hapuka.

And the first of the three tuna pieces, which Callan Boys in the Sydney Morning Herald described far better than I ever could: ‘marinated ruby-red akami (lean meat from the tuna’s back); luscious, highly marbled otoro (from the fattiest part of the belly) and chutoro, a pale-pink, medium-fatty cut with a flavour that pings every pleasure receptor.’ This first one was the chutoro.

Boafish. What’s that? Google tells me it is Stomias affinis, a long deep-sea fish that looks a bit like an eel!

The next one was previously hanging in a fridge that you can see on coming into the restaurant. A work of art, really.

I think the dry-aged salmon was husband’s favourite.

Next the lean ‘akame’ tuna. Check out the colour on this.

I can’t see the octopus sashimi on the menu. Perhaps it was an extra little gift to us!

The next one was a highlight for me. We were offered the choice of uni (sea urchin) from Tasmania or Japan. We opted for one of each. My family are big fans of uni but I’ve not caught on, until this one: this perfect creamy bite of the ocean.

The next one I think was the imperador, which I particularly liked, though I might have swapped the photos of this one with the boafish. I’m not sure!

The last one was perhaps my favourite: sea eel (anago). Charred with a blow torch before serving.

We finished with a perfect bowl of miso soup, Hojicha tea (by chance, I bought a home supply of this not long ago) and a refreshing dessert, Anmitsu, which the birthday people got a candle in it. I liked the special attention which was on top of service which I thought was so wonderful and gracious. There were 4 birthdays out of the 12 of us that sitting!

In case you’re interested, the meal was AUD$230 each, to which you could add special supplements (the Japanese uni counted as one, our neighbours to the right had wagyu beef and extra sushi courses). I did the sake pairing, and the waitress explained where each one came from, and they ranged from dry to sweet to one warm one and a yuzu-infused one as the final dessert pairing. I loved them all!

It all reminded me of a few special meals in Japan, in particular getting up very early to go to Tsukiji fish market, and then lining up at the small sushi bar that I’d researched and chosen. The freshest seafood. Personal service. And the skills of the chef on display right in front of you. I thought it was very, very lovely. As we left, Chef Aki ran after us outside to shake our hands before we left. The other photos that I’ve seen of him don’t capture his ebullience but I think husband captured him well, as he was skewering some gingko nuts!

Hope you enjoyed dining with us!

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