Friday, May 15, 2009

Review: Rise, Darlinghurst

JL and I had our very first anniversary yesterday. In the week leading up to the big day, JL had been dropping clues every once in a while, just to make me guess where we were heading.

Let me tell you this now. If there ever was a cat that got killed by curiosity, it was probably me, in my past life, no jokes.

I think in the end he regretted ever starting the game with me because I would annoy him every few minutes with a "GIMME ANOTHER CLUE! GIMME ANOTHER CLUE!"

So here were his clues, given at various times of the day, over a few days:
Clue #1: "The place we're going to has a four letter name"
Clue #2: "Ok it's not Waqu"
Clue #3: "I think it serves a degustation menu as well"
Clue #4: "I don't think you've mentioned it before"
Clue #5: This one is too long for the blog, but he basically copy and pasted an introduction of Hideki Okazaki from Menulog, and blotted out the restaurant name and made me promise not to google it.

I kept my promise, and controlled my urges by playing Restaurant City on Facebook all day instead.

We were about 15minutes late for a booking. It's incredible how many cars people manage to squeeze into the tiny avenues and lanes weaving between the buildings in Kings Cross. We eventually settled for a park a few blocks away, and just walked the rest.

Eventually we arrived and before long, we were served our very first course for the evening - Marinated Ocean Trout.

1st Course: Ocean Trout marinated with Gochujang Miso & Poached Quail Egg

To be honest I was wary at first. Apart from salmon and kingfish, I've never really taken a liking to any other types of raw fish - especially tuna. Nevertheless, I told myself that one cannot claim to be a foodie if they don't try everything and my goodness, I was delighted that I did! The ocean trout itself has a taste that resembles salmon, except the flesh is a bit firmer and the texture is less oily. The miso marinade really helped bring out the sweetness in the fish and complemented the bed of rocket that it was served on. Oh, and there was no fishiness!

I'm not sure what the white thing on top was, but whatever it was, it gave a really nice crunch to provide a nice contrast with the quail egg and the trout. I loved this dish, and would definitely come back for more.

2nd Course: Potato Cream Soup with Tempura Prawn & Tofu

This Potato Cream soup was an immediate winner with JL and I, and remained our favourite course for the entire evening. The taste of the cream soup was delectably light and the richness well controlled and satisfying. It served a double purpose in this dish as we enjoy it not only as soup, but I happily dipped my freshly fried tempura prawn and tofu into the cream potato soup in an almost sauce-like manner. The flavours are subtle, and exceptionally delicate.

My taste palette will forever be jaded after this.

3rd Course: Assorted today's fresh market sashimi

JL nearly jizzled his pants when he saw this dish come out. In fact, I think he did. Or at least his face showed it.

Clockwise from the bottom left: Kingfish with mustard vinaigrette; Jewfish with balsamic dressing; Ocean Trout with traditional soy and wasabi; Tuna with I-forgot-what-sauce, and Oyster with light citrus Japanese soy(?)

The kingfish was our biggest surprise on the plate. More appropriately, the mustard vinaigrette used as a dressing for the fish was our biggest surprise winner. JL claimed to want to drink the dressing because it was that good, and I had to agree, because it really complemented nicely with the fish, and gave a complete spin on the traditional sashimi.

4th Course: Egg flan, mushroom & miso red curry sauce; Rice paper roll of miso chicken stick; Duck confit salad with 'Hoisin' in wonton cup

This plate was also an outstanding arrangment of assorted savoury delights. The spring rolls on the left really took a focus on the blend of natural flavours from the food - with the lightly marinated miso chicken stick subtly orchestrating the blend. Despite this, for me, it was the egg flan in the centre which really made the magic happen.

The egg flan, or chawanmushi in Japanese, was gently steamed to perfection and tasted soft and silky and delicate in flavour. It was topped with a red miso curry sauce, which, I must admit, sounds a little strange on paper, but in reality it tastes somewhat like that yellow stuff you get in crabs, except not as overpowering in flavour, and needless to say, not fishy at all.

The wonton wrap on the side, as pleasant and tasty it was, failed to shine through when contrasted with all the other dishes which had been served. To its merit, however, the cup was crispy and not too oily, and the bamboo shoots provided a nice crunch of a different style to accompany the sweetly flavoured duck

5th Course: Steamed Scallops, Green Tea Noodle & Ginger Shallot Sauce

I have to say this was a bit of a hit and miss for me. JL loved it, but I found the dressing to be salted a little too heavy-handedly, and competed with the incredibly sweet scallops in flavour. The green tea noodles were pleasant, and in one mouthful, the trio worked gave the tastebuds a good jolt of excitement.

6th Course: Soy Braised Chicken, daikon & green beans

Ok. Just for the record, I've just about run out of adjectives showing delight, deliciousness and general tastebud-happiness. Whatever I used for the other courses, I'm going to say that this dish takes them all. Except for the creamy part. But what I can add, uniquely to this dish, is that despite being well flavoured, the saucing is nevertheless gentle and thus the natural flavours of broccolini and bean sprouts retain their integrity admist everything.

Oh, and you may have noticed that it's not green beans, but bean sprouts served with the dish. Dayam good bean sprouts.

Rice, along with Miso Soup, was served alongside this dish. I gave my miso to JL as I'm not a fan of drinking soup during my meal.

7th Course: Today's Dessert

Lastly, we finished off our meal with Grapefruit Granita with mixed berries, and Coffee & Kahlua Granita with Panna Cotta.

Given how much of a coffee addict I am, I was quite a fan of the strong coffee flavour in the granita. What I wasn't too thrilled about was the sweetness of the kahlua beneath, blending in with the panna cotta. Given the subtlety in flavours in all the other courses, I found this one a bit outcasted and fell one short of the rest. On the other hand, the grapefruit granita was refreshing. I wasn't sure what the yellow custard-like stuff beneath was exactly, but whatever it was it was beautiful, and went nicely with the berries.

To top the evening off, the service at Rise was really exceptional. The waiter/waitress were well informed about each individual dish, and were professional in every aspect of their job. This is definitely a place I would return to - even if they don't change their menu anytime soon, I would happily have it a second time round.

And that, sadly, brings me to the end of this post. Heck of a long one if you ask me. But I had a great evening and couldn't help but share it in quite a bit of detail.

Hehe, we nommed it good.

23 Craigsend Street
Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
Tel: (02) 9357 1755

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