Sepia Restaurant, Sydney
As one of the best fine dining restaurants in Sydney, Sepia is the creative collaboration between two of Sydney's highly regarded food identities - Sydney Chef Martin Benn and renowned seafood wholesaler George Costi of De Costi Seafoods. Sepia Restaurant opened in 2009 and is located at the prestigious Darling Park precinct at 201 Sussex Street, Sydney. It was listed on Financial Review Australia's Top Restaurants,Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, The World's 50 Best Restaurants, and tons of other national/international awards.
Visited: Apr.28.2015 (Dinner)
Address: 201 Sussex St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Hours: Tue-Thu 6 pm-11:30 pm Fri-Sat 12:00-11:30pm, Closed on Sundays & Mondays
Menu/price: 5 course lunch $165, 9 course tasting menu $198, wine pairing $120
Once you step into Sepia, you will see a modern bar in front of you, which serves wide range of drinks and bar snacks. Both on the left and right hand sides are the main dining room. The restaurant is quite dim in the night, not that formal as those French restaurants with white cloth, the ambiance is rather relax but still upscale.
Amuse bouche was housemade tofu with tomato confit, tomato water and olive oil. The tofu was silky and has a deep tofu flavor, the tomato water as well as the tomato was on the sour side, quite refreshing.
First course was a beautiful plate of edible arts, i am sure yellow fin tuna sashimi is not something new to you, but with jamon iberico cream? Yes it works.
The jamon iberico cream was wrapped with the thin-sliced tuna sashimi, the cream was pretty smooth and flavorful. The juicy tuna soaked all the flavor from the jamon, the entire combinataion was very umami. On the side, the avocado cream and horseradish balanced very well, and the pork crackings added another texture to the dish. The only down side was the tuna was not melt-in-mouth tenderness as chutoro or otoro, its tendon made me quite hard to cut it into bite-size. But in general, It was an impressive starter.
This dish was incredible. On the bottom was fried potato, in a pretty golden color with wonderful crispiness. A perfectly poached quail egg was laid on it, topped with fresh bonito and caviar. The roasted chicken powder brought a touch of umami from the land to the juicy and tender umaminess from the ocean. The rich and creamy egg (yolk) works so perfectly with the crispy potatoes. I am not a big fan of fried food neither potato, but this dish was irresistible.
Next dish was a nice cleanse-up, came with a lovely yuzu and grilled aroma. First bite was the soup, although it was just a clean dashi (Japanese clear soup), the it nicely soaked the umami flavors from the abalone, and the yuzu brought a refreshing hint to the soup. The grilled abalone itself was crunchy and tender. Simple is the best.
Serving with the warm dishes, the bread roll came right after the soup. This was the only bread served at Sepia, a milk bread roll? It was, but trust me, the best so far. Freshly baked and warm served, the bread roll was pillow soft and has a mild milk flavor. The butter was in a cute sphere shape, smooth and great with the warm bread roll.
Next was Australian style omelette. The jelly-like tamago was quite delicious, stuffed with creamy egg and rice with a cheesy texture. It works really well with the umaminess and sweetness from the fresh king crab. While the blood plum puree balanced vey well.
For the next course, my partner had the smoked bone marrow and i had the marron. The smoked bone marrow was deep in flavor, it was rich in oils and melted in mouth. The citrus soy enhanced the flavor and at the time, has a hint of refreshens. For my marron, it was not that large as the one i had at Vue de Monde in Melbourne few days ago, but it was too pretty nicely processed. Its sweetness and sea flavor balanced very well with the seawerd and its sorrel on the op.
Move on the the mains, Sepia's charocal grilled David Blackmore wagyu presented beautifully in front of us. Cooking it involves both Western and Japanese methods. The beef was perfectly grilled, its pink center was high in oil content, the texture was incredibly juicy and succulent, another enjoyable dish.
For me, I had the WA scampi which was also memorable. The creamy and rich scampi was umami by itself, while the Japanese curry nicely enhanced the flavor and brought another Asian twist to the dish. Apple and sheep yogurt works well for a balance, and the mushroom made the dish more complex in texture.
The second main course was seared Mandagery Creek venison, it was succulent and flavorful. The pumpkin puree was sweet, which i though make the dish a bit heavy for our liking. But in general, it was still a nice dish.
I had the miso black cod which looks not very appealing, although its moist flesh was pretty high in oil contents, the entire flavor was too salty for my liking.
After the mains, we were served with the pre-dessert at first, which was some figs thing. Unfortunately i lost the picture and i cannot remember it very well.
For the dessert part, my friend had the Milks Milk chocolate, coconut yoghurt, rice milk pudding, goat milk dulce de leche sheep milk sorbet, milk cake, milk crisp, yuba. Consists of milk in different forms and textures, the overall flavor was quite nice.
But i certainly loved mine, which was the signature dessert at Sepia. Made of soft chocolate, hazelnut & almond, lavender & honey cream, blackberry sorbet, caramel & shiso vinegar jellies, green tea, licorice, chocolate twigs, bronze fennel, the presentation of the food was like a forest as well. I really enjoyed the strong chocolate, and it was pretty well balanced. The whole combination was a flavorful and textural harmony.
This was the most impressive meal in Sydney. While disappointing service because there was a big table celebrating birthday. We were almost being ignored at the corner. The service was incredibly slow. We waited for 45min for the amuse bouche to arrive, and another 30min for the next dish. The entire meal took us 5.5 hours from 6pm till 11:30pm, and the first hour was just a waste. The service, come on.