Cuisine: Japanese, degustation
Location: Mosman Park
Disclosure: I dined for free as a complimentary guest of the restaurant.
I was grateful to receive an invitation to dine at Fuku – Omakase (Japanese for degustation) and Teppanyaki restaurant in Mosman Park. I had mentioned to a friend over dinner the invitation and he urged me to accept immediately and take him too. So I did. Arriving at the restaurant, it’s not immediately visible from the front. A lantern hangs outside but if it isn’t lit, you can’t come in. I rang the buzzer on the intercom which is next door to an associated restaurant, Tsunami, and then the golden sliding door opened and we walked in. Feels all kind of secret to me! We were immediately greeted by Brett, one of the waitstaff, and walking in I saw a few other food bloggers and realised it was a food bloggers night out. As I walked and was about to take a seat, I met another one of the staff, Milan, who had sent the invitation. I shook hands and thanked him for the opportunity to dine at the restaurant and told him I was looking forward to the first time experience of being at a Teppanyaki restaurant. The restaurant has a lovely ambience with the back wall lined with over 500 1.8L bottles of sake. This has to be the largest range in WA and sounds like the place to come to buy a few bottles direct. They also carry a large range of Japanese malt whiskey so if that’s your thing then head here. The kitchen bench and grill is there for all to see and 2 chefs would dazzle us through the night with their cooking skills and performance.
The restaurant only seats 16 diners and while the booking on the website is a little convoluted, they really need people to show if they make a booking because the whole dining party gets treated to a show. It’s not the typical kind of restaurant where you walk in, pick a table, look at the menu, start off with some drinks and wait for the food to arrive. Rather, all 16 seats need to be filled and “start” at the same time. The food is prepared and served by the professional staff (we really enjoyed the service) and away you go. The degustation is the chef’s choice so you get what you’re given.
However, having said that, they do offer 3 types of options ranging in price from “Good” at $100 / head, to “Better” ($135 / head), to the “Best” at $220 / head. They’ve also tried to be more flexible and do allow walk ins and have a “walk in” menu at $75.
We started off the $135 “Better” menu with kawa ebi which is baby fried prawn. It had a lovely crunch but was a little pokey in the mouth. Still, a textual delight. It also was served with sun dried crispy nori sheet. This was also very crunchy, but in a different way, and had a slight salty kick.
Next off, we were treated to tempura scallop with a ginger salsa, red emperor fish served with an octopus salad, and a serve of smoked wagyu beef with a spicy dressing. It also came with a miniature tree which turned out to be fried sorba noodles with tempura batter giving the effect of “leaves” on the tree. This was edible and really different. I liked it. The tempura scallop was delicious, lovely batter and soft moist scallop. The ginger salsa was also interesting and full of flavour. The red emperor was a little disappointing. It was cold, covered in batter that had gone too soggy from the sauce. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be served like that but it could have been better had the elements been executed a little better (if I’m reading the dish correctly, could be wrong too). It still tasted good. The octopus salad was really interesting. Cubes of spongy octopus sat under the red emperor and had it’s own texture and flavours. Yum. The thinly sliced smoked Wagyu had just the faintest hint of smoke, not too strong to overpower, but just enough. The spicy dressing was delicious too.
Our third course was a sashimi array containing salmon, Fremantle tuna, snapper with Japanese pickle, and sweet prawns from Exmouth. Of course, a dash of wasabe was also present and too much certainly has one’s eyes watering and the nostrils cleared out! Unfortunately I’m useless with chop sticks so while I was going so well, I proceeded to once again drown my first piece of sashimi in the soya sauce. There was no coming back from that. Fortunately, the remaining pieces didn’t suffer the same fate. You can really taste the freshness and with each sashimi outing, I keep gathering a growing fondness to this interesting dish. Just the right amount of soya sauce and the protein is fantastic. Too much and you kind of ruin it. Too little and it tastes a little raw and you miss out on the flavours, like having under seasoned food.
Sorba crepes with quail and a beetroot relish was next up. We watched as succulent pieces of really large quail breasts sizzled away on the hot cook top. They were then removed and deftly cut into pieces, 2 placed in each crepe with other ingredients, wrapped and served with a lovely sauce and a beetroot relish which was yum. Nicely pickled, the beetroot is soft, sweet and tasty. The sorba crepes were a little unusual. I’ve eaten sorba noodles, but the crepes were quite course in it’s body, like eating crepes made from wholemeal flour. You can tell the difference between wholemeal and plain flour as the crepe is much thicker, heavier, and changes the taste. The crepe itself is soft, smooth, thin but strong enough to hold all it’s contents. Given the sorba has a dominating flavour in the crepe, it’s contents, including the quail, got lost in terms of the flavour. I had a bite of the quail and it was succulent, juicy and tender. I can’t say I really enjoyed this course.
A medley from the sea was our next dish presented. It consisted of a beautifully seared scallop, juicy, spongy, and perfectly cooked and very tasty. This was accompanied by a crispy prawn head which sounded completely off putting but actually turned out to be much better than I thought. It’s simply the prawn shell of the head, flattened and fried so it’s very crispy and carries the prawn flavour while there is no prawn meat whatsoever. However, a juicy prawn was also served up in uni (sea urchin) butter. This was really delicious and the best dish so far. Of course, the dish preparation was far from pedestrian. The chefs proceeded to add lots of oil over the prawns and turn the blow torch on. This immediately caused the prawns to be engulfed in a ball of fire which left the prawns literally smoking for a few minutes. The smoke was not the steam from the cook top I assure you.
Of course, being a venue with a whole wall of sake, the restaurant was generous enough to serve this along with the meal. The maitr’d was genial, friendly, welcoming, and had a sense of humour. Keeping a close eye over service, he was close at hand to answer our questions. He even brought out this interesting implement used to chill sake if there is no chilled bottles on hand. It looks like something out of a science lab and had us oohing and ahhhing.
And the next course, fish of the day – swordfish.
I’ve never eaten swordfish so was I in for a treat! A chunky dense piece of swordfish was served on a palm leaf, with green beans, lotus root, something that looks like male genitals but turns out to be eggplant (there were weird looks and laughs among the diners), and all this was served with a very unique yuzu sauce. I asked the chef more about this and he told me yuzu is a citrus fruit only found in Japan. The sauce has a citrus flavour but different from lemon, lime, or orange. The sauce was amazing and really lifted the dish up. I, and a few other bloggers, really commented about how wonderful this sauce was. The swordfish is a nice fish, quite dense and chunky. Each bite feels like you’ve eaten more than the one bite and it is filling. It’s very firm, yet was cooked very well, still retaining the butter flavour and there was a slight smokiness from the blow torch. The eggplant, which umm, doesn’t look like any eggplant I’ve ever seen tasted really delicious and had a very different flavour than what I was expecting. They’ve somehow pickled or stewed this in something. I’ve eaten lotus root once before at Shiro in the form of crispy lotus root chips. This version was very different, soft, slightly mushy kind of like what I was expecting from the eggplant, and had a different flavour to it being deep fried. An impressive dish. Can’t go past that sauce!
Wagyu of the same grade served in Rockpool was next on the list. Sourced from Tasmania, Mayuru Station, the Wagyu (full blood) sirloin grade 9+ steak was cooked medium to the strong suggestion of the chef, however, the other chef recommended medium rare. It was cooked and then chopped swiftly into bite size cubes, and then plated in this lovely spicy miso sauce. Fried onion rings were also served, and fried slices of thinly cut garlic was scattered upon the Wagyu beef cubes. A very rich, buttery fried rice was served in a bowl. It was very delicious with nice loose grains, the strong taste of butter, a crust on the outside which provided a little crunch in contrast to the super soft melt in your mouth grains. It was also mixed around in the wagyu juices from the steak.
The meal was not without entertainment. Large onion chunks were cut and grilled before being taken apart ring by ring and stacked into a tower or volcano. Plenty of oil was poured before applying a blow torch causing immediate flames before “smoke” (steam) billowed through the crater. Then it was pulled apart and reformed into the original onion chunk. The other chef, not wanting to be outdone decided to show us his skills in juggling and flipping the implements around in some kind of circus act. You have to see it to believe it. Got immediate applause. But he wasn’t done there. In preparing the fried rice, he juggled around an egg between his utensils before turning the spatula 90 degrees and splitting the egg but with the shell not broken all the way through and hanging on to the spatula edge, before being discarded into the bin. I don’t drink but I was sober as could be and had to do a double take. There was an egg and then it split in the blink of the eye. How did he do that? Talk about entertainment. Who said you shouldn’t play with your food?
Finally, we reached dessert which I was thankful to see because I was very full up to this point and there was just enough room for dessert. We were presented with yuzu cheesecake, drinking chocolate, wasabi cream, and mountain peach. The mountain peach looks a bit like a mini rambutan, it has a big seed in it but tastes quite nice, though certainly not like peach. The yuzu cheesecake was delicious, very cheesy and filling but this was offset by the lightness of the wasabi cream which delivered a slight tangy punch right at the very end. Nice touch. The little vestibule of drinking chocolate was delicious. A pretty fantastic end to the night.
Fuku Food Review Summary
Verdict: First time to a teppanyaki restaurant and also a Japanese degustation. The lit lantern, intercom, and sliding golden door seems something out of a spy movie. Walking in, you’re immediately greeted by the friendly waitstaff who deliver professional service throughout the night. The maitr’d blends in with interesting comments, directions, and knowledge of sake. The backlit glow of the sake bottle lined wall is quite a treat and adds to the whole ambience of the intimate 16 seat venue. With front row seats, the chefs entertain with some pretty jaw dropping and dazzling displays, but still deliver delicious flavoursome food. High grade ingredients are treated with care and carefully infused with flavour. I really loved the prawn, scallop and crispy prawn head course which was delicious. The crispy prawn head was something new for me and actually very different to what I thought – turned out to be crunchy and tasty. The swordfish, green beans, lotus root, and eggplant was also a highlight. Another dish which made you question what you’re eating, the eggplant isn’t what it looks like and yet doesn’t taste like any eggplant dish I’ve ever had. The delicious sauces were a key point throughout the night and the yuzu sauce was something to savour. I really loved the dessert which was an excellent finish to the night and a clever use of wasabi to provide that tangy element to a dish that required something like citrus to cut through the rich cheesecake flavour. Reflecting on the night, I really enjoyed myself along with the other bloggers, and while I was a guest of the restaurant, I certainly recommend a visit here as the food, ambience, setting, service, the unrivalled sake range, and entertainment provided by the chefs, make it well worth the money.
Fuku Restaurant Details
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