A few Friday nights ago, The Brooding Architect organised a double date with one of our favorite couples – The Botox Babe (to clarify, she injects it and does not receive it) and The Artistic Pharmacist. Because we were so disorganised, we could only get a booking for the fashionably late dinner sitting of 9.30pm. Having said this a 9.30pm is better than nothing, as at least you can settle in across the road at Atticus Finch for a relaxed round of pre-drinks, rather than queuing around the block for hours (I am looking at you Mamasita and Chin Chin).
Eating at Kumo feels like a special occasion. The fit out is dark and sexy, with lots of cozy private booths, a long communal table down the middle of the restaurant and just the right “mood lighting” to make everyone look more glamorous. There is even a Sake Master, who they wheel out to help the uninitiated navigate their way through the extensive sake menu.
Based on reports from others, I expected Kumo to be more expensive than it was, but perhaps we were restrained with our ordering on the night? For $60 a head, we had 2 bottles of sake ($36 per bottle) and a very decent selection of food shared between 4 people.
We started with some grilled edamame (soy beans) with Murray River pink salt, a round of yakitori and a selection of Tasmanian oysters with ponzu (citrus based) dressing.
The yakitori is made with organic chicken thighs and have that authentic sweet, smoky, crispy flavor combination you find in genuine Izakayas (bars with food) on the streets of Tokyo. The only thing missing was the Shichimi (Japanese chilli pepper).
Given that we are still adjusting to Australian Restaurant Oyster Prices, we limited ourselves to 2 oysters each. The tangy ponzu dressing worked fantastically with the sweet, creamy, salty flavour of the oysters.
Instead of the traditional chef’s sashimi platter, we opted for a snapper ceviche and a serve of scampi sashmi. The snapper ceviche was lightly coated with a zesty wasabi dressing, which gave the dish a good dose of heat. The ceviche was topped with a micro herb salad, which added some lovely freshness and crunch to the dish.
The scampi sashimi was served with delicate slivers of young ginger and topped with crispy, golden friend lotus root. The scampi was sweet and delicious, contrasting beautifully with the slight heat of the ginger and crunch of the lotus root. Plus it just looked really shit hot. For me this was the dish of the night.
Feeling virtuous, we ordered the homemade tofu with sesame and chilli dressing. Even The Brooding Architect, who is a well known tofu skeptic, conceded that this dish was a fantastic flavour combination. The homemade tofu had a lovely nutty flavour and rich, silken texture. The nuttiness was further enhanced by roasted sesame seeds and black sesame seed oil. Highly recommended, even for tofu skeptics.
We then moved onto some rice with homemade pickles, tempura vegetables and, for something completely unexpected at a Japanese restaurant, a braised Korobuta pork belly pie.
I am always a bit skeptical about ordering fusion or European style dishes at Asian restaurants, however the pie was surprisingly good. The pork belly filling was melt in your mouth tender and deliciously sweet. The pie comes served in a bowl filed with the braising juices and topped with a crunchy apple and spring onion salad. The pastry was light and flaky and gave you something to mop up the extra braising juices with.
The final dish of the night was a plum wine chicken karage. The waitress sold it to us on the basis that it was the ‘best fried chicken ever’. While the karage was very good – its kind of hard not to like deep fried golden chicken, especially after a few rounds of sake – I think our waitress was a bit ambitious in her sales pitch. However, given that this was the only service slip up(if it can even be called that) of the night, I think I can forgive her.
Despite the best of intentions, we could not say no dessert. The Botox Babe was feeling adventurous and ordered the green tea Mochi balls, filled with chocolate ganache.Unfortunately, it was not a gamble that paid off. According to Wikipedia, Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice. The rice is pounded until it forms a pliable, sticky mass and then is formed into various shapes. Therefore, not surprisingly, the Mochi balls at Kumo were dense, heavy and gelatinous. The Mochi balls were then thickly coated with Matcha (finely milled green tea powder), with the rich chocolate ganahe hidden deep within. I would not recommend ordering this particular dessert, unless you are a big fan of green tea.
I played it safe and ordered the Japanese style cheesecake, with caramel sauce. This was definitely a dessert winner. A lovely, not too sweet, baked cheesecake topped with a rich caramel sauce.When this dessert came out, the Artistic Pharmacist had such a visible case of food envy that the only solution was to divide the cake into 4 bite sized pieces.