Monday, May 31, 2010

Dinner at Umi Kaiten-Zushi

It's a balmy Thursday evening that Mel and I are meandering across Chinatown, feeling a little peckish despite it being quite early. I have no idea what we're doing down this end of Chinatown. We seem to have left the restaurant scene behind us. The last time we were here was after going to check out the Chinatown night market - we stuffed ourselves full of black sesame and lychee ice cream whilst staring disgustedly at some Asian guy spewing his guts out onto the pavement in front of Harry's Cafe, already blind drunk at only 9 o'clock. A poor effort.

Wait, why are we going to the post office? Wtf is this place? Oh.. OH! I see what's happening now! Thank god I have Mel to take me out! I must have walked this street literally a thousand times and never noticed the restaurant that sits nestled just behind two brick columns and a little railing.

We wander in through the big glass doors and loiter around the entrance. Mel has been here before and seems to know what she's doing so I just hang around and let her do her thing. An almost silent Japanese waitress directs us to the side of the restaurant where we jump into the heavy, high chairs which she pushes in for us. Before we even know she is gone, she's back with menus and hot green tea. It's the first time I've tasted it like this and I'm pleasantly surprised. It's very fragrant and mysteriously smoky.

I see a card advertising "TODAY'S SPECIAL GRILLED WHOLE CONGER EEL SUSHI $7.80 EACH" and we order that. I love eel! I have no idea how to cook it (yet) but I just love it to bits. Whenever I see it on a menu I can't help but order it. The grilled conger eel comes out on a long black plate. It's beautifully filleted and covered in a sweet, sticky glaze and fresh chives. Accompanied by a slightly spicy mayonnaise and paper-thin slices of onion, it's a delicious and delightfully balanced combination.

Agedashi tofu comes next. Lightly fried, crispy cubes of silken tofu sit in a light dashi broth. The top has been sprinkled with slivers of nori seaweed and smoked bonito flakes which appear to dance from the heat.

Hungry for more, we begin choosing sushi plates to taste from the train in front of us.

"Next.. Next.. Next.. OMG is that raw scampi?!"
"It looks like it's been lightly seared"
"Do you want to try it?"
"Oh no, it's too late!"

We end up with 13 dishes in total. Not all at the same time mind you! Crispy soft-shell crab with avocado, seared ocean trout with cucumber and pearls, wagyū beef with seeded mustard and chives, smoked salmon and butterflied squid, spicy jellyfish noodles with black sesame, braised octopus with ginger, California rolls with fried lotus root, something with seared scallops, something else..

Absolutely stuffed after 2 hours, I convince Mel she still has space for a green tea mochi so we try that too. I tried mochi once before at an industry show and my god it was freaking disgusting. I have no idea how they managed to make it taste so bad but I can remember being so absolutely grossed out that I tried desperately to spit it back onto the toothpick I'd picked it up with so I wouldn't have to swallow that shit. And no, I didn't have a napkin or I would have used that instead. Back on topic, this one was a million times better. The green tea mochi was filled with adzuki bean paste, sprinkled with icing sugar and served with a honey-sweetened cream and strawberry. I have to say I quite enjoyed it.

In my experience, sushi train has always been a very rushed affair but dinner at Umi is so far from what I know. The waitresses move around with ninja-like stealth. My cup of hot green tea stayed mysteriously full although I drank it I swear! I love being able to watch the chefs at work and as far as sushi train goes, Umi is right up there with the best in Sydney.

Umi Kaiten-Zushi
Shop 1, Sydney Central
477 Pitt st, Sydney 2000
(Cnr of Hay and Parker st)
(02) 9281-2006

13 sushi plates and green tea mochi..

Umi Kaiten-Zushi on Urbanspoon


  1. haven't been this place before.. green tea mochi sounds really really good!! if you're interested in more of those good mochi, I recommend Sakana Ya at Crows Nest.. best that I've had in Sydney so far..

  2. Ooo..I have to try this place. Think i saw it the entertainment book too :D

  3. oooh.. thanks for the top mochi tip!

    julie - if you go can you bring me back a piggy bank? they're so cuuuuute! :P


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