Restaurant review

Restaurant Review: Yuki at Burnside

Wandering through parking lots, dark alleys or nondescript supermarket hallways to find hidden eateries is commonplace in Tokyo, the home of omakase restaurants. Some of the best places are located in five-star hotels: these are high-end and very expensive hotels, and you can wait months to get a reservation.

The Michelin guide describes omakase as a formal Japanese dining experience in which diners leave themselves in the hands of a chef and are treated to a meal that is seasonal, elegant, artistic and using the finest ingredients available. Typically, these are small venues with limited capacity, as part of the experience is sitting at the bar watching a series of simple or interesting (and sometimes weird or challenging) small dishes prepared right in front of you.

During my travels, I’ve been lucky enough to sit in some of the best such bars in Japan, watching sushi masters and chefs display the perfection of their craft. One of them was Ippoh, based in the revered Aman Hotel in Tokyo. This experience is etched in my memory. Each dish was an absolute delight, with ingredients so fresh that some were turning over on the prep tray just moments before being served.

We are not in Tokyo tonight, but we cross a dark parking lot and enter a nondescript commercial building, adjacent to a collection of consulting rooms, a fitness center and an event center, just off Portrush Road. An obscure iconic sign next to the glass doors simply reads “YUKI, Japanese Fine Dining.” I’ve been delighted to relive those omakase memories since hearing that Yuki had opened a sister location to their more laid back Yuki in the hills in Aldgate. For the record, I’ve always been happy to dine there: they serve good sushi and sashimi, izakaya-style dishes and a good range of ramen.

Down the hill from Burnside, they aimed for an upscale experience, promising “Adelaide’s first authentic Japanese omakase restaurant”.

Inside, we find an austere space with tiled floors, a minimalist layout, and a counter along one wall, with just a handful of tables sitting under curtained windows. We are seated at one of the tables downstairs which is a shame as we are going to miss all that prep action. Soon, however, we’re distracted by the arrival of a tasting menu that reads like we’re in for an interesting series of dishes, structured like a four-course meal, with an option to match each course with sake. .

Yuki’s dining room in Burnside. Picture provided

The first is the zensai course, that is, a selection of three starters. Unfortunately, two out of three are not appetizing at all. The diced octopus is the first. The only other ingredient to note is the chopped onion, ie a little onion. The tiny braised octopus segments are chewy. And that’s pretty much it. We move on to a nearby silver Chinese spoon, piled high with a concoction of pureed tofu and cream cheese with some sort of mushy leafy greens (spinach, maybe, but it’s hard to tell) in the mix. . This usually light and creamy dish has been weighed down by the unnecessary addition of cream cheese. Since this dish arrived quite quickly after ordering, I’m guessing it may have been made ahead and although it’s supposed to be served cold it needs to be made chilled to avoid getting soggy . But here it is: it’s not a pleasant bite to swallow.

Each portion of this first course is quite small, which I am sadly grateful for.

Relief comes in the form of a dish called nanban, with small pieces of fish that have been fried and then marinated. This is another dish deliberately served cold that comes in the form of a small salad, with grated carrots and onions combined with a sweet and sour dressing. Tasty, textured and balanced, it is washed down with the first sake, which we are told is “fruity and dry” when poured. I guess it’s a match, but we’re given a little description of it before our server takes the bottle away.

Yuki’s zensai course. Picture provided

Then comes the sashimi course: in any omakase, this is the most important. This is the part where species selection, knife skills, and light flavors or seasonings that aim to shine the star of the course usually come into play. From our low seats, we missed knife skills. What arrives are two tiny bites of bluefin tuna, cubed and dipped in a light soy sauce, and three strips of King George whiting without any seasoning, plated alongside a dollop of wasabi. They are, unfortunately, uninspired. And worse, quite tasteless.

We are halfway through the four courses at this point and have barely had a few bites of each. This is the abbreviated version of omakase – four courses, served Wednesday through Friday nights only, for $89, as opposed to the full omakase experience ($180), but I’m still wondering what’s next to support this so far – meager meal.

Omakase is meant to test your taste buds; it is meant to delight and excite dinner. But in an effort to introduce some kind of (humorous?) fusion, we’re now served the weirdest things.

First breaded and fried fish (five cubes, resembling nuggets) next to a “homemade” tartar sauce. They used tuna (another weird gesture) and served it with a sake that is said to be “dry”. It’s not. Tuna is, however.

Wagyu’s promise has our hopes. This is served sukiyaki style (a kind of soy-based soup) with yuba (dried beancurd), leek (I can only find two pieces), Chinese cabbage (a little pasty) and daikon (there is in a). The thin slices of Wagyu beef are nice, tender, but a bit too boiled.

Next, two tempura shrimp are perched on a bowl of rice with ‘the special yuki seasoning’. The prawns are fine. The rice is fine. All seasoning is missed.

A side that is labeled on the menu as miso soup is there, but something seems to be missing here as well. In fact, everything seems to be missing, including the miso. It looks and tastes like hot water with chives floating hopelessly in the clear liquid. There is no dashi flavor, no salt, no other ingredients. Where’s the tofu? Nori? The usual greens? That delicious salty umami flavor that makes a good miso? It’s another failure.

Shrimp tempura with a strangely watery miso soup. Photo: Paul Wood/InReview

Dessert is only worth mentioning because tonight there’s no more pear-caramel semifreddo on the menu. Instead, we are presented with two bite-sized slices of squishy eggcake that are served alongside wasabi ice cream. It’s barely green, and it’s barely there.

Sponge cake with wasabi ice cream. Photo: Paul Wood/InReview

As we leave I wonder if the full omakase would have been different?

Did we miss the good bits? Or should Yuki at Burnside give up the lot and start over?

Yuki at Burnside

548 Portrush Road
(08) 72250378
www.yukiburnside.com
Open: Wed-Sun 5.30pm-10pm

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