Jazushi | Jazzing It Up
Aptly named, Jazushi stands out from the milieu of Sydney’s Japanese restaurants in that it offers great food paired with live Jazz. The prices aren’t too bad either. Those elements alone would make any connoisseur of Japanese food and good music to take a visit, though the food definitely warrants some serious discussion.
This post is based on my second visit to Jazushi; a particularly special visit in that it was the celebration of The Lady turning 21 (you’re so old what is this). Indeed, we were impressed enough with our first visit that we chose Jazushi for a 21st – that speaks volumes already, does it not?
Read on for the juicy details.
Date Last Visited: 10/7/13
Address: 145 Devonshire St Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Recommended Dish(es): Hitsumabushi
In the case of The Lady’s party, we were not subject to this, as we had the private dining room at the back. I never noticed it was there upon the first visit, but I gotta say, it looks pretty retro, in an ancient fashion.
I’m no muso, so I leave it to readers to decipher the collection here
Just another observation I made – I usually expect hashioki at a Japanese restaurant, and am at a loss to see their absence. It matters little however, those who are extremist in their Japanese cuisine purism may beg to differ.
Though I seem to have inexplicably lost all my photos in my first Jazushi visit (they were horrid anyway due to the near lack of lighting), I was glad that The Lady and her “food advisors” hand-picked a $55/pp set menu that encapsulated almost all of Jazushi’s highlights. Somewhat sadly, the symbolic JFC (Jazushi Fried Chicken) was left out, but I don’t disagree with the decision – while rather quirky, it was really only OK when we had it on our first visit.
For the first course, we have an appetiser in the form of two fish – salmon & kingfish. They are layered on top of each other to form a beautiful interleaving pattern that looks very pleasing to the eye.
They also happen to taste as good as they look – I pretty much don’t have any general criticisms of the fish. The fish were sliced thinly, so the kingfish’s inherent firmer texture didn’t show through all that much, and the salmon’s fatty/creamy texture was less pronounced. All said, the taste is quite refreshing and neutral, forming an excellent starter to kick off our appetites.
I had some pretty big expectations for this dish – well, as far as my expectations for salad can be. My only disappointment was that there didn’t feel like there was enough noodles in the dish. What little I could scoop out before my friends could (share plates!) tasted absolutely delicious, leaving me craving so much more.
The firmness of the noodles, freshness of the oak leaf lettuce, coupled with the zesty onion dressing make for a great salad – but it really, REALLY needs more noodles.
For The Lady, these oysters won the dish of the night by a LONG SHOT. To this day, she keeps wanting to return JUST TO HAVE A DOZEN of these. While my excitement is less palpable, I can see where she is coming from.
Most uniquely, I have not had oysters prepared like this before – while it should have been obvious in a Japanese restaurant, the clever usage of cheese & miso cream to essentially “bake” the oysters is a fantastic move. The closest analogue to these oysters I’ve had would have simply been a cheese & bacon bake.
Yeah, miso makes everything better – if you like miso.
As for the dish overall, I’m mostly positive. The one point of improvement was that the miso cream mixture needed to be toned down a bit, as it was encroaching on overwhelming the natural flavour of the oyster (which is already muted through a heated cooking process). That way, I’d feel like I’m eating less cheese & cream, and more oyster.
Just a small nitpick though – this is definitely my second favourite dish of the night.
Oh, didn’t expect to come across my dish of the night so quickly, right after the awesome bomb that was the oysters. Readers of my post on Ocean Room and Yoshii will know that I’m an absolute sucker for fish cooked like this, and boy does Jazushi make it look (and taste!) incredible.
It was pretty much perfect for me – the flavours were strong, potent, sweet, tangy, all over salivatingly (not a word) tender cod. Mmmmm, if I had some rice with this dish I would be a very happy man.
As someone at the party describes this dish – “so it’s fat deep fried in fat”. Ah, could a more appropriate term be ascribed? Unlikely. Tempura cheese is not my idea of a regular eat, but the indulgences were already being heaped on us from the previous dishes, so why not this one too? Did I mention the third layer of fat that’s essentially the tartare-style sauce that you dip it in? Yeah, don’t bother counting calories – it’s just not going to help you here.
Taste-wise, it’s a very full on taste, though that’s mostly due to the rich and carby tempura batter w/the cream sauce than the Camembert itself – the cheese was rather overwhelmed by the stuff that was happening around it. Overall, the dish does its job as a guilty pleasure – have no worries about that.
After all those curveball dishes, we finally have something a bit more normal – simple sushi! Indeed, there wasn’t any fiery surprise or such waiting for me when I bit in. Nope, just some simple, decent-quality sushi. A rest dish, as it were.
Along with this dish came rice, which is a definite welcome. I hungered to get some of the sweet sweet teriyaki sauce into my bowl, but in similar fashion to the green tea noodle salad, the entire plate got cleared pretty quickly
In terms of the beef itself, it was tougher than I’d have liked it to be, but other than that the rest of it was quite nice – they avoided my so-called “teriyaki trap”, where the strength of the teriyaki sauce often overpowers anything that it’s meant to flavour.
In our first visit, this dish was definitely the dish of the night. It’s still very, very good and easily takes third place for me tonight. The mechanics of it are pretty simple, you get the plate as pictured, some condiments (below), and a pot of seaweed dashi – a very light stock used in the flavouring of many types of Japanese dishes (see Ume).
Then, either scoop some of the rice/eel mixture into your own bowl, apply your condiments of choice, and then pour in the dashi. Alternatively, you could just pour the dashi directly into the plate itself.
Heck, you could just eat the dish and drink the dashi separately – free choice here!
Wasabi gives the dish a kick that I don’t like, so I avoided the wasabi (as always). However, the dried flakes & spring onions are always welcome.
What really wins me over with this dish is how amazing the rice and eel taste together – that caramelisation works wonders on rice, and the eel imparts a wealth of flavour and tender texture. The dashi definitely has its own place as well – it’s just pure joy to drink, or to act as a lighter buffer to the flavours of the rice/eel combo.
It just looks great, and tastes even better.
Definitely a restaurant that stands out!
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
Awesome: many dishes are very unique and taste amazing, service is excellent
Not so Awesome: some dishes could be improved here and there, portion sizes could be bigger