Sydney: Azuma (Aug. 2013)
Exec Chef: Kimitaka Azuma
My Sushi Chef: I didn’t get his name :(. I kind of wish I did because he wasn’t great…
August 19, 2013
When I googled around to find the top sushi restaurants in Sydney, Yoshii and sushi-e were two of the three most common names to come up. Azuma was the third, so I made it a goal to try it before I left Sydney. Sushi e was a great experience with pretty good sushi, while Yoshii was decent to good food but an average experience. I wanted to see how Azuma would fare (spoiler: not well).
Regarding the sushi rice, the rice was warm (in a good way) but a little grainy (bad). It didn’t have that “wet” taste that really good sushi rice usually has for me. There were one or two pieces where the rice wasn’t as good, which is a negative because of the inconsistency.
Most of the time, the proportion of the rice to fish was fine. I think I would have liked about 10% more rice for each piece, but this wasn’t a big deal. For the paradise prawn nigiri, though, the proportions were off. There should have been more rice. I think that the sushi chef could have cut the prawn meat in half and then have two half-nigiri pieces that would, in total, have more rice than a normal nigiri piece would. (Chef Takashi Ono at Sukiyabashi Jiro’s Roppongi Branch did a preparation of kurumaebi like that.)
To sum up my thoughts about the sushi, the rice’s temperature was fine, it was a little too grainy, and the proportion of the rice to fish was generally fine.
There were a few negative points of the meal that made this a considerably worse experience than my meals at sushi e or Yoshii. First, I only ate 12 pieces—my sushi chef was basically out of ideas for pieces after 9 or 10 pieces. This is related to a different problem; the selection is considerably worse than sushi e’s. Second, the chef didn’t add any soy sauce at all for me. This sucks because a lot of customers might not know the ideal amount of soy sauce to put, while the chef would (or should) definitely know.
Third, the chef was very mechanical. He just kept on working and working and didn’t bother to make any convo at all. I suppose that’s okay if the sushi is great, but it kind of detracts from the overall experience. Fourth (and this is more of a pet peeve), he didn’t give any akami (lean tuna)! Do they not even have it? Then again, I’ve done omakase meals at Sushi Kuu where I didn’t get akami; however, the chefs at Kuu could easily prepare akami nigiri if I asked them to. They just didn’t have akami here… I wonder why. Akami’s one of my favorite pieces, and I feel like it’s a central sushi piece.
1. Chūtoro (medium-fatty tuna).
It wasn’t as fatty and rich as I’m used to. I just think the seafood isn’t as good here compared to the other two restaurants :(.
I also don’t know why my sushi chef chose this as the first piece. It would be one of the richer pieces in the meal. I don’t… see the rationale in making this the first piece. Maybe someone could enlighten me as to the sushi chef’s wisdom! (Because I’m clearly lacking his insight.)
2. Sake (salmon) belly.
4. Paradise prawn.
5. Aburi sake (salmon) belly.
6. Aburi hiramasa (kingfish) belly.
7. Ikura (salmon roe).
8. Shiitake mushroom tempura.
The flavor of the shiitake mushroom was actually lost in the deep-frying.
9. Prawn tempura with tobiko (flying fish roe) hand roll.
I suspect he made this mainly to help get me full…
10. Hotate (scallop).
11. Unagi (freshwater eel).
Gah, another mediocre piece. I like eel a lot, too (both unagi and anago). Whyyyyy?!
12. Dashimaki-style tamago (egg).
The tamago was REALLY warm—it could almost qualify as “hot”. I didn’t really like this.