I am shockingly behind with all my blog post, a hectic work life has managed to suck a lot of my energy (again). In any case, about a month ago I visited Azuma Kushiyaki with fellow MSGers as part of our nearly monthly gathering for Midweek Supper Group. I wanted to see what this new addition to the Azuma chain was all about. As an added sweetener, Azuma Kushiyaki offered Sugar Hit as part of SIFF making it doubly interesting to visit.
Azuma Kushiyaki specialised in Japanese bar food common to izakaya. The word kushiyaki referred to non poultry skewers, this in contrast to yakitori (skewered chicken). The restaurant offered both types of skewers and if you would like a taste of the different skewers you can’t go wrong by ordering the Assorted Kushiyaki set (5 assorted skewers). The assorted set came with a chicken, okra, beef, lamb and scallop skewers and provided a great overview of what was available.
If ordering individual skewers the Quail eggs with Kushiyaki sauce was an unexpected winner. The sauce and the egg complimenting each other in terms of taste and flavour.
Although the restaurant’s specialty was meant to be its skewers it surprised us to note that for a number of the meat skewers, the meat was dry and in a lot of cases cold. Despite being the only large group within the restaurant the kitchen could not cope with our numbers, even if they were pre-warned with all our orders being pre-ordered hours before we arrived.
Unexpectedly it was all the other non skewer dishes that impressed us that night. The soft shell crab was perfectly crunchy, the sashimi platter was generous and fresh…
In terms of possible lunch food, their onigiri or rice ball was enough to keep anyone happy for a mid day break. It was also a lot bigger than the photo suggested.
I was quietly impressed by the Azuma Ramen, it consisted of egg noodles in a mildly spiced sesame soup. The stock made it for me, it was flavoursome and complex. Perhaps not the same standard as Ryo, but definitely something I would look forward to for a quick lunch.
Before we knew it, it was 9:00pm and despite our bulging stomachs we waited eagerly for dessert to make its appearance. We were not disappointed when two square, black bento boxes arrived bearing sweet goodies inside. Described as a blend of East meets West this particular Sugar Hit offering was the most impressive in a long line of Sugat Hits. A typical Sugar Hit usually includes a sweet wine and a number of mini dessert. In most cases the selection contained three if not four desserts. A chocolate one, a creme brulee of some description , a “fruit of the season” dessert and a the restautant or hotel’s signature dessert.
In terms of presentation and content, Azuma Kushiyaki’s Sugar Hit blew me away. I started by tasting the fluffy Vanilla Cheesecake, before moving on to its polar opposite; a Belgian chocolate mousse. Although both were delicious, they were exactly what I expected at a Sugar Hit and therefore did not have the wow factor I was hoping for. After a few spoonful I shifted my attention to Box number two.
Box number two contained a Green tea roll with chestnuts. I have always been a big fan of macha flavoured dessert and this subtle offering was one of my favourite so far. It wasn’t until I ventured into the rather ordinary looking shot glass with vanilla ice cream that the surprise started. Not listening to the instruction I started by nearly choking on he incredibly sweet brown sugar syrup before pouring it on to the vanilla ice cream. I took my first bite of the ice cream and could understand why Marc, who was sitting in front of me was wearing an expression of utter bliss. The subtle vanilla sweetness was given a punch by the brown sugar syrup, and when combined with the two balls of mochi deep within the glass, the texture combination of smooth and chewy was amazing. Excited I turned to the Nori seaweed cat’s tongue biscuits. Looking rather like an ordinary rice cracker, I did not expect the mix of sweet and burst of savoury courtesy of the sea weed flecks. I could happily munch on a whole box of these little beauties!
It was close to midnight when we decided to make it a day. This Sugar Hit was easily my favourite, being unexpectedly different and delivering on its promise of East Meets West. As far as the dinner went, I had some mixed feelings about what we had. I didn’t think the skewers in general were outstanding, although what was impressive was the variety of skewers available. In terms of service, they were marginally acceptable, but mind bogglingly slow throughout the night. Despite the fact that it was a very quiet night, they were unable to cope with our group’s order. One order went out, then forgotten multiple times throughout the evening. Our waitress seemed to not understand our requests due to a language barrier, and despite being the booking that made up more than half their night’s intake we were often ignored throughout the evening.
What frustrated me most was the number of hoops I had to jump through to book a table for a group of 14 people. Azuma Kushiyaki has a policy that for groups of nine or more, you can only order from their $55 per head set menu. I had to ring for two days offering different suggestions to go around this, before they suggested that maybe as the booking will be on a quiet week night, we can pre-order beforehand. What annoyed me was that even with orders being pre-ordered the same dishes arrived at different time with different temperature.
I doubt I will revisit this place with a group bigger than four in the future, but would definitely drop in for a quick lunch here and there.
T: (02) 9267 7775
F: (02) 9267 7776
Ground Floor Regent Place Shopping
501 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000