“I’m glad I tried it, but I don’t need to do it again,” one of my dining companions volunteers. She’s talking about the Sweet Wasabi ($18) dessert, but it’s apt as a metaphor for our whole meal.
While visually spectacular – this dessert is shaped like a wasabi root – the crisp, white chocolate covered mango pudding doesn’t actually contain wasabi, except in the form of a crystallised wasabi leaf that tastes more of sugar than it does of anything else. I can’t say I liked the combination of flavours any more than my dining companion did.
Fujisaki is the latest Barangaroo offshoot from the Lotus Dining group. It’s easily the most fancy spot in their expanding restaurant stable, but the biggest hook for diners here is getting to experience two big name chefs - Chui Lee Luk (ex-Claude's) and Ryuichi Yoshii (ex-Yoshii) – in the one meal. Set at the unfinished northern end of Barangaroo, hoarding still hides the water view, though the sunset does cast a nice golden glow over the restaurant.
The interior isn’t particularly Japanese - there’s a lot of back-lit marble, including ceiling circlets that eventually cast an orange, full moon-like glow over everything we eat. The chairs are wide, comfortable and square; upholstered in plush blue velvet.
Arriving before my companions, I avail myself of a smooth Martini ($20) garnished with a golden Japanese daikon pickle and made on seaweed infused gin. It’s gone in three swigs (through no great fault of my own), so I work my way down their signature list, first Yuzu ($20), which riffs on the margarita with a shiso salt rim, then Edamame ($20), which attempts spicy, savoury and sweet, but traverses too close to Midori for my liking.
Considering it represents two chefs, the Fujisaki menu is surprisingly succinct. Sea Urchin Roe, Spanner Crab and Avocado ($25) is a good place to begin. It’s a gentle combination of sweet spanner crab, briny lobes of sea urchin roe, avocado wedges and dashi jelly. It should make a convert out of anyone who hasn’t tried urchin roe before, but is unlikely to be a combination that excites regular consumers.
Before we’ve taken more than a bite, our Spanner Crab and Burnt Cabbage ($17) maki roll lands, and on top of that, our deep-fried selection, Prawn Kakiage Lemon Tofu ($17).
The lack of pacing detracts from our enjoyment of the dishes, which include a bland, fritter-like prawn and tofu concoction cut on the bias, and better spanner crab, avocado and nori urimaki rolls wrapped inside charred, pickled cabbage leaves.
Far from the “chequerboards and roses” Terry Durack encountered, the Sashimi ($48/14 pieces) I received wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, with unevenly sliced salmon, unremarkable fishes and wasabi that barely registered even if you used a lot. It was dumped on the table with a quickly muttered dish description in the ear-blisteringly loud room.
From Chef Chui Lee Luk’s customised robata grill, we took Pipis ($20) in a salt-bath broth purported to be squid and preserved broad beans. It bored me before we got to the end of the meager portion of clams; though it renewed my interest in my delightful but overpriced wine, the 2015 Daniel Dampt Chablis ($60/half bottle). The wine list here is exciting - probably more so than the cocktails - with more than 300 bottles stored in a central, temperature controlled wine room.
The Chablis was no match for Moreton Bay Bugs ($39), presented sans shell with spicy fermented soybean and some beach bananas. This dish packs a punch, but is pricey and doesn't feel particularly Japanese.
While it didn't quite arrive with the bugs, Shitake Mushrooms ($15) with asparagus and broccolini is plain enough to be a nice foil to the intensity of the fermented paste.
Service across the night was patchy – while staff were pleasant, they lacked the confidence and reliability that one expects at this price point. I also expect the bathrooms to be serviced, and cloth or paper handtowels to be available, too. They’re all little niggles but they add up to the sentiment I began this review with: I’m glad I tried Fujisaki, but it won’t win my repeat business. The experience doesn't match the bill.
Shop 2, 100 Barangaroo Avenue, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9247 6868