Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rise - Darlinghurst, Sydney

Japanese fusion restaurant with very fancy-pants Japanese maitre d'. LOL just kidding, he was wonderful. There aren't many Japanese maitre d' in Sydney that acts like what a proper maitre d' should act like - most of them are very relaxed and casual, but this maitre d' at Rise is 'serious business'. Very posh and proper. He's a good sommelier, too.

Oh - as you'll notice, I'm putting a Japanese translation of the menu even though Rise doesn't actually write their menu in Japanese. Why did I do that, you ask? Good question. Hm. Now why did I do that...hmmm...let me think, let me think. Probably because names of dishes, when written / said in French, Japanese, or Italian, sounds much better than in English?

Okay, that's a stupid reason. Actually, the REAL reason is - I love to translate stuff. LOL
Anyway, I might do this for every one of my Japanese food-related posts in the future, so hope you don't mind!!

Note: I actually did put up some Japanese contents in my previous posts, but there are lots of computer-illiterate people who complained that the Japanese characters didn't display correctly in their browser. Rather than telling each one of them to change their encoding, I'm embedding the Japanese characters on the image this time...hope it's okay...

Tuna tartare, guacamole & witlof salad
(Maguro no tarutaru, wakamore to vittroofu no sarada)

-> Hm, interesting. So this is basically a tuna roll sushi without the rice, dressed in a strange dressing. (LOL what's wrong with me today??) Okay. The guacamole doesn't taste like guacamole - perhaps it's too light, it just tastes like mashed avocado. The tuna is wonderful, though.

Rating: 6/10

Potato cream soup with prawn tempura & tofu
(kuriimu potaajyu ebi tenpura to toufu shitate)

-> Ahh...the potaajyu (potage). One of Japan's favorite fancy-pants French soup (another one is the vichyssoise). Nearly every European-style restaurant in Tokyo has this on the menu. Anyway, this soup is delightful. I wouldn't imagine that potage (or potato creem zouup for you, Anglais peeple *in French accent*) would go so well with tofu. The tofu is kind of like agedashi tofu (with the sticky gelatinous skin) and the tempura is dressed with a sweet sauce. Very nice.

Rating: 8/10

Ocean trout, sea bass, and Sydney Rock Oyster sashimi
(Nijimasu, suzuki, shidonii no iwagaki no sashimi moriawase)

-> Excellent - and nice presentation as well. Love the chilled shot glasses. The Ocean Trout comes with a sweet-ish soy sauce and wasabi, and the sea bass comes with a...I actually have no idea what sauce it is - it's kind of sour and lemon-y and a tad milky.

Rating: 8/10

2007 Nepenthe, Adelaide Hills
Pinot Gris (South Australia)

-> As far as I know, Pinot Gris tend to go well with Asian meals, and that's the reason why I asked for this wine. To think of it, I've been drinking lots of Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio lately...don't know why...maybe I like the crisp and acidic taste to it.

Rating: 7/10
Compatibility with food: 7.5/10

Rise is located at a very, very obscure street just off William street in Darlinghurst - It's seriously obscure, if you aren't looking for it, you'll never know that it even existed there. Even the entrance is obscure - double non see-through solid red doors that are always closed, so the restaurant looks like it's closed all the time. Decor is quite chic, I guess (kind of like New York-style) - the place is surprisingly small (although they did close a section of the restaurant). The service is very, very good - one of the friendliest services I've ever experienced in Sydney (or maybe I just happened to be served by a good waitress).

The Chef is Okazaki Hide - and I heard he worked at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Italy before establishing this restaurant. Apparently, Rise is nicknamed "Baby Tetsuya's" (nah, they don't deserve that nickname just yet, IMHO)

Duck and bamboo shoot with hoisin sauce in wonton cup, grilled eel rice paper rolls, and steamed baby octopus with "ume" plum vinaigrette
Age wantan ni ireru ahiru niku to menma hoishin soozu fuumi, unagi no kabayaki raisupeepaa makimono, mushi tako ume no vineguretto soozu fuumi

-> The duck is nice - kind of like Peking Duck served in crispy wonton cup (duhH, both dishes use the same sauce, hello!). The eel is kind of a hit-and-miss, I think they shouldn't have used rice paper because it conceals the flavor of the eel. The baby octopus is just weird.

Rating: the duck 7.5/10 the eel 6/10 the octopus 5/10

Steamed scallop, mung bean noodle & ginger shallot sauce
mushi hotate to ryokutoumen, shouga to negi soozu fuumi

-> I assume that all of this is steamed in one go. As a result, the noodle is a bit mushy, and the sauce is not strong enough (a little bit too tart, too) even though the scallop is perfectly done.

Rating: 6.5/10

Braised pork belly rolled with savoy cabbage,
eggplant ragu & gochujang miso sauce

Buta no kakuni no rooru savoia kyabetsu, nasu no ragu to gochujyan miso soozu

-> This dish is...really 'out there'. For many reasons, really. Firstly, when this dish arrived, I thought, what? Rooru kyabetsu (rolled cabbage)?? What is this, granny's obento? It's kind of...too plain and simple, because for those people familiar with Japanese food (and by Japanese food, I mean food that the Japanese actually eat in Japan - can be anything, doesn't have to be Sushi or Teriyaki), rolled cabbage is kind of like standard katei ryouri (home-cooked meal). And what's with the gochujang miso sauce?? (gochujang: Korean hot paste made of chilli and glutinous rice which are fermented) Is this an attempt to marry Japanese and Korean cuisine (my least favorite kind of fusion food)??

My head was filled with hundreds of complaints and reactions, and suddenly...a waiter approached and handed over...a bowl of RICE.
What the hell?? So they're suggesting us to eat this granny's obento food with RICE and mess up the beautiful arrangement of this dish? This is like, rubbing salt to a wound!
Okay. OKAY. *relax* So there are TWO interpretations of this phenomenon. Firstly, it's quite common for restaurants in Japan to serve rice on the side of everything - even in European restaurants. Because rice is a staple food (as an Asian, I always try to eat rice as often as I can for fear of being too whitewashed LOL!), and the Japanese really stick with this principle on "rice being the staple food" - that it is perfectly understandable for people to eat rice with...everything. I mean, everything. Even steaks, mac-and-cheese, pies, potatoes (double carbohydrate, hello), everything - like, in steakhouses in Japan, they DO serve rice on the side if you ask for it.

This isn't weird if it's in Japan, I guess - but this is Australia - I felt kind of weird eating rice with what looks like a French food. I mean, unless the rice is fully integrated to the dish, it's weird, know what I mean? Heck, even in Indonesia it's weird. People will stare at you if you ask for rice at a steakhouse!!

(maybe I should just shut my yap and don't eat the rice If I don't want it - it's not like they FORCED me to eat the rice)

Anyway, back to the topic - the other reason is (and this is ultimately the more feasible reason), the presence of rice signifies the end of the course meal. This is very Asian - in every Asian banquets / course meals / etc, the very good, very expensive stuff (abalone, shark's fin, bear's paw, Buddha Jump over the Wall Soup, sea cucumbers, whatever) always come out early in the course. Then, this is followed by the less-fancy stuff (beef, chicken, duck, etc), and for the finale, it's always the tummy-fillers like rice or noodles. Kind of makes sense, really - I mean, who wants to fill up on rice and noodles at the beginning of the banquet when all those nice food are waiting for you?

Okay, now let's talk about the dish...
Despite the negative images and comments in my head, the dish turned out to be quite yummy. The pork belly is soooo perfectly cooked, it's tender, juicy, and sweet. The eggplant ragu goes very well with the pork and the sauce is quite delightful - excellent miso-gochujang flavor ratio. In short, it's delicious.

Rating: 8/10

Panna cotta with kumquat, blood orange & pink grapefruit granita
Pinku gureepufuruutsu no guraniita to panna kotta kinkan to buraddo oranji soe

-> This dessert is yarisugi (trying too hard). LOL. There's too many different textures here, they don't exactly get along very well with each other. The panna cotta is sour (made with sour cream instead??) but the grapefruit is even more sour. I find it hard to acknowledge this as a single, integrated dish - it's a messy dessert.

Rating: 4.5/10

Moral of the visit: I haven't changed my mind - fusion food can be very, very tricky. Attempt with care.


Anonymous said...

ahhhhhh Rissee. Haven't been there for a while now... hmm maybe its time to revisit :D especially after reading about your meal haha

Asian Food Lover said...

This blog is great - now when I travel I'll know just where to eat. The Panna Cotta looks delicious. Here's an Asian Food Blog I thought you might like.

angel said...

i think she sea bass sashimi was served with some vinaigrette, but i couldnt recall what exactly the maitre d' had told me. sorry :P

and yea, i totally agree with u. that baby octopus tasted a bit off

D said...

I agree FFichiban - let's make a visit :)

Anonymous said...

just visited this place last Sunday, for the main I got Chicken roulade ... but I reckon pork belly is even nicer ...