Over the last few years I’ve noticed a crucial difference in waiters. There are really two sorts – waiters who want to be something else, and career waiters.
Restaurants which attract and hold career waiters, like Ema Tiller-Cordy, are usually excellent, or well on the way to being so. Ema spent a full month in training here before taking to the floor.
Ergo, it’s unsurprising she can confidently design and deliver a personalised your-first-visit-to-Sokyo menu for me and my rather fetching stand-in dining companion. We're seated at the sushi bar. It's particularly good for er... chef watching.
She won me with Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice ($20), a deceptive plate of nigiri sushi where luscious tuna hides a shock of crispy rice with the earthy resonance of truffles.
My eyes also widened at the wasabi-like squiggle atop of the Queensland (spanner crab) Roll ($21). It’s definitely playful food.
Even my least favourite dish, Kurobuta Black Pork Sashimi ($16), had me smiling at the idea (and the mouth-watering salty caramel sauce); whilst I scrubbed sous vide pork fat from my tongue using the rare mountain peaches in a wintery Yamamomo Sour ($20).
Ema kept us oohing and ahhing with an array of dishes, including Kingfish Miso Ceviche ($18); a lovely, crisp Asparagus Tempura ($11) with truffle poke sauce...
... and from the robata grill, there were skewers of mouthwatering Wagyu Tenderloin with Foie Gras ($25) served with fig and plum wine, as well as pancetta wrapped King Prawns ($15) encircling enoki mushrooms with a green chilli sauce.
Not to mention a delicious plate of one of my favourite dishes, caramelised miso cod - here it's called DengakuMan ($32) and comes accompanied by a clever Japanese salsa.
Ema’s incredibly delicious menu also kept me hungry enough to truly enjoy a Dessert Tasting Plate ($26).
The frothy white Miso Tapioca ($12) gave rise to my most wicked imaginings, though Goma Street ($12) was a sight to behold, featuring black sesame ice cream, beautifully tempered chocolate and caramelised white chocolate mousse which got a little bit lost amidst all the other big flavours.
While celebrity chef Chase Kojima created this opening menu himself, I'm told his kitchen staff will have more input into the next menu, and get to add occasional dishes to the Omakase Menu ($110/head) which I'm determined to return and try on my next visit.
The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street (direct entrance on Union Street), Pyrmont
Ph: (1800) 700 700