Monkey say: “To some of us, opinions are so precious that we will die for them, again and again.” The bizarre look on my dining companion’s face took me back to the infamous ‘Golden Century pipi incident’. I’d seen that look before. I knew it wasn’t good. Sharp crab shell in the Crab Leaves ($13/3 leaves) equals shaky beginning.
Mortified I stare at walls, noting dark, moody, tasteful decor. Noisy room covers muffled curses emanating from across the table.
A wasabi-based Ken Watanabe ($16) helps steady my nerves; great cocktail, packs a punch. My out of focus photo should indicate how thrown I was by bleeding man across the table.
They had a tough night – newish chef, more patrons than expected, new floor staff. I told the waiter my dining companion wasn't particularly keen on sushi, so I hoped she could suggest some good alternative dishes. Instead she honed in on him: ‘What is it that you don’t like, the raw fish?’ Perhaps this sounded more harsh than our server intended. With time hiccups will hopefully be honed, but for the price I wanted to fall in love – Japanese fusion is a favourite!
Bright points were the Ox Tail Tortellini ($18) with scallops and ox tail wasabi jus – on the money for taste, but pasty in the pasta.
Seafood Ceviche Salad ($16) triumphs; shaved fennel is brilliant, fetta less so.
Twice Cooked Pork Belly ($32) popped with sweet carrot puree, but Julie Goodwin’s kids might ask: “Where’s the rest of it?” Pork belly is not a a particularly expensive cut.
Soft Shell Crab Roll ($15) is really right up my alley, but there were issues with the rice. It just wasn't quite right, and didn't hold together very well, making the dish hard to eat. The fresh wasabi and pickled ginger however were great.
The Monkey Magic Salad ($7) was fine, but the house specialty of Monkey Magic Sushi Selection ($36/large) did not live up to my expectations. The salmon teamed with basil oil was a crime against raw salmon, but the Crystal bay prawn with tartare was good. I didn't photograph it as I was a bit despondent. Even the wine failed to please, a 2007 Bourillion Dorleans Vouvray Chenin Blanc ($70/bottle) which never really opened up into the wine I hoped it would be, leaving a kerosene like taste on the lips.
I so wanted to like this one... I suspect my adoration of Japanese fusion will mean I will give it another whirl (with a different dining companion) down the track when they have had more time to settle.
3 and 4, 410 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9358 4444