Yoshii – Japanese Jewel
If you weren’t looking for Yoshii, you’re like to miss it as you walk up Harrington Street. There is barely any signage bar a dull red banner with “Yoshii” printed on it in black. The fact that it’s kind of hidden by a tree doesn’t help. Put it this way – I didn’t realise I’ve been walking past Yoshii every day for nearly two months during a period of time when I used to work on Harrington St.
This is unfortunate, as Yoshii is a fairly polished gem when it comes to fine Japanese cuisine, and it’s pretty unfair for only regulars of the restaurant to get to enjoy its culinary riches
Date Visited: 7/11/2012
Address: 115 Harrington St, Sydney NSW 2000
Go-to dish: assorted fresh sushi plate
Because of its not-so-easily noticed exterior decor, the regulars of Yoshii are generally Japanese businessmen who work around the area. When my friend and I came, those were all the people we saw, and not many at that – we could only hear two distinct groups sharing our timeslot with the restaurant.
In other words, it was nearly empty. During lunch hour. Weird.
Yoshii doesn’t try particularly hard to be fancy with its decor, which is fine, really. You deliver the food first, decor later. That said, its clean, but traditional look, especially with its way of using a bamboo mat to put plates on is a very nice touch.
We ordered the lunch course menu, which is kind of a faux-degustation of sorts. This ensured I wouldn’t have to ensure the pain of choosing
Oh and yes, Yoshii is pricey – but is in line with similarly priced fine dining restaurants like Sake, or China Doll. Expensive for a casual lunch, perfect for a formal/special occasion dinner. But oh well, we still went for lunch just because.
We have a pre-appetiser (there’s such thing?) in the form of lightly roasted matsutake mushrooms with a creamy miso mayo. I was never a great fan of mushrooms, and usually I just tolerate them when eating them. Then again, most of the time they aren’t drizzled in such delicious sauce. I happily devoured this little morsel – and it turns out these kinds of mushrooms don’t have the pungent aroma of some other types that I just cannot stand. A satisfying start to lunch!
Next up, the ‘official’ appetiser in the form of a pacific oyster and a pork belly (below). The oyster was dressed heavily enough that I could barely taste it anymore. I didn’t mind this very much, as the dressing was actually very yummy (ate/drank every bit of it) – a great ratio of pickled ginger + shallots + oily vinegar. So who knows, the oyster itself could’ve been horrible, but I’d I wouldn’t have known.
This pork belly was far too small for my liking – I really did wish it could be bigger! The fatty layers were not as thick as normal pork belly was, and thus resulted overall in a larger lean:fat ratio. I love pork so much I don’t care whether it’s too much fat or too little (okay I lie – I would care if there’s too much fat). It was handsomely flavoured, in that the quality of the meat shines through, with such a small bite-sized piece delivering a very appreciable porky punch. Appetising, indeed.
The cool thing about this sashimi is that it doesn’t really look like it’s dressed with anything, but it SO is. Okay that’s not very cool, but I don’t generally eat fish without a sauce to dip it in; imagine my surprise as it is quite flavoursome thanks to the shoyu marinade which is virtually invisible.
It’s true what they say about Yoshii’s sashimi…it’s quite possibly amongst the best in Sydney. When it comes to tuna specifically, I don’t think I’ve actually had it better prepared than here. The balance of flavours was so simple, and because of it, delicate; subtle, yet refined. Buzzword this buzzword that.
But really, it’s a great dish of tuna and I do not recall the last time I’ve had tuna sashimi this good.
Piquing my interest immediately as this was plated up, the aroma wafting from the burning hoba leaf is dizzying. My mouth watered at this dish, and it seldom does that.
Ohhh nice. It’s a great cut of cod I can tell you that much. No actually I can say more: white miso – who’d have known miso could get even better! I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that cod’s natural pairing condiment is white miso marinade. It’s an amazing umami, and I only wish it were improved by having a more impactful flavour. Other than that – delish to the core.
In the end, I always go back to sushi as my primary reason for loving the hell out of Japanese food. Want to please me? Make me this
Not even kidding.
Salmon: still as flavoursome as ever
Tuna: tastes like the cleanliness of the sea as tuna does. Unfortunately, doesn’t match the salmon in flavour.
Well, this is just the maki version of the tuna nigiri.
Kingfish was particularly nice, and the sea urchin is commendable – very rich in its flavour delivery.
My general consensus for the sushi is that it’s exceptionally well-made. Even the wasabi which was put into selected nigiri in selected amounts was not really a problem (to make sense of what I just said: I pretty much never eat wasabi, and would generally opt for it not to be put into my sushi). The fish were fresh, the construction solid. Well, there was one piece which kind of broke apart when I tried to flip it, but other than that – solid.
I’m trying to, but I can’t really fault this platter at all. It’s just that great.
Now if only I had known about the wasabi inclusion…
For dessert, we have an ice cream of indeterminate flavour. No seriously I’m not too sure on what the flavour is. It’s closest to something like salted peanut caramel, but I can’t be too confident about that.
What a delicious lunch! Definitely going here for dinner some time down the road.
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
The Good: wonderful food throughout – cooked or raw.
The Bad: felt kind of stifling with pretty much nobody else in the place. Sushi can improve
I give Yoshii a grand total of eight and a half Caesars out of ten – 8.5/10