With a nicely egalitarian philosophy, brother and sister team Ray and Serena Ang, have adjusted all three of their restaurants to a core menu. This means you’ll experience no price hike for taking in their trademark Sashimi Tacos ($20) in the luxurious surrounds of Barangaroo. With a crowning ball of yuzu granita, this tower of salmon, tuna and avocado is made to be eaten al fresco, using crisp wonton scoops, in the great outdoors.
The stylish space is designed by Koichi Takada; and like in so many other restaurants in their repertoire (Ocean Room, Ippudo), this team have employed wood to good effect.
At Zushi Barangaroo, they’ve fashioned it into an elegantly curved louvered wall, reminiscent of a makisu, or sushi rolling mat. Appropriately it curves around the sushi counter, allowing the reflected golden light of the afternoon to frame their sushi chef.
Sipping well-priced Kizakura Junmai Daiginjo ‘S’ Premium ($34/300ml) we enjoy watching the cleverly designed lighting take over its illumination as the sunlight fades. This is a lovely round sake with a rice-like beginning that is neither too sweet, nor too dry.
Our attention is focused inwards because, despite this new batch of Barangaroo restaurants being pushed to open in time for Good Food Month, their waterfront view is still obscured. With the weird purple-blue lighting and the outlines of two pile driving barges, the late night mood is a little post apocalyptic - though thankfully for us evening diners, the noisy work finishes before 7pm.
And while you might not be able to see the water, you can still immerse yourself in the sea with an eye-catching Sushi + Sashimi ($48) shared platter that presents ten pieces of nigiri sushi and ten pieces of sashimi. The firm texture and delicate flavour of sand whiting, Zushi’s fish of the day, impresses both as sushi and sashimi. We’re also quite taken with Alaskan king crab leg nigiri sushi, and tuna sashimi that shines like a glassy red jewels, and the salmon, as both raw and lightly seared nigiri sushi, which proves to be quite full-flavoured.
We move on to Echigo Koshihikari Rice Lager ($15/500ml) – my favourite Japanese beer – to accompany a sticky quintet of Honey Prawns ($16). My dining companion finds these plump Queensland banana prawns too sweet, but they taste like memory to me. Growing up in suburban Sydney, I actually thought honey prawns were the posh end of Chinese.
Laughing at my own culinary naivety, I find myself stroking the soft, silky wood of our table, as I relax into the well-designed chair. There's something quite architecturally pleasing about the way this restaurant design reflects the simplicity of the unyielding materials used across the rest of concrete canyons of Barangaroo.
Sweetness remains a theme in the nashi pear and green apple soy reduction that accompanies the Wagyu Steak ($35). The Tajimi wagyu is cooked medium rare and finished with sesame oil and shitake mushrooms. It is well rested, then sliced into batons that you drag through the semi-sweet glaze.
It’s also there in a honey-mayo dipping sauce for the popular Popcorn Chicken ($18), which eats best when you balance the sugar with a good squeeze of lime; and in Nasu Dengaku ($16) that presents everyone’s favourite eggplant with caramelised miso under crunchy lotus root chips.
Even the seared Tuna Steak ($30) employs sweetness in a sticky teriyaki glaze that's better balanced with wasabi mash and a dusting of quinoa.
What you get here for your money is reasonably priced, likeable, modern Japanese in a stylish setting that will really come into its own once the Barangaroo Delivery Authority deliver us that promised waterfront view.
10/33 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo South
Ph: (02) 8072 7383