When one is overwhelmed by the wealth of dining choices on their immediate doorstep, it’s often difficult to look further afield.
Yet those in the know will have seen the times they are a changing for our golden neighbour to the south, and establishments such as Jupiters’ highly-acclaimed Japanese restaurant, Kiyomi are helping lead the charge.
Without making too big of a deal here, this is one restaurant with an overflowing trophy cabinet. Kiyomi has won more awards than we’ve space to list here, but to give you an idea… in 2015 there were gongs for Australia’s Best New Restaurant (surely reason alone to earn a looksee), shortlisted for an International Restaurant and Bar design award, plus a coveted Chef’s Hat (I could go on).
At first we were unsure what to expect of a restaurant in a casino, which is tucked in an alcove on the mezzanine level with glimpses to the bustling lobby below. The long narrow izakaya is dimly lit, made moodier by the candlelight, dark furnishings, and warm wood feature walls. Our eyes were immediately drawn all the way to the end of the room where a vibrantly abstract and backlit art installation throws a subtle pink and purple glow across tables at the rear.
There are booths and high top seating, but we chose to pull up a stool fronting the nine-metre-long raw sushi bar. The crafting of Japanese food is an exquisite art form in itself, and it’d be a disservice to not sit close enough to watch the magic unfold.
The beauty of being a non-fussy eater, is giving the chef or knowledgeable wait staff free reign to choose for you. On an inaugural visit to a highly reputable eatery, you’re going to want to try their very best, their signatures, or those special dishes that makes a chef’s chest puff up with pride (although I’m pretty sure every dish here will do that anyway). We were at the mercy of the talented gents behind the pass and it’s the best decision we made all night.
At first we were presented with a drool-worthy Moriawase Sashimi platter. It was overflowing with fresher-than-fresh salmon and scampi nigiri, hearty slices of yellow-fin tuna and kingfish sashimi, plus slithers of raw scallop, and cuttlefish accented with a delectable shiso salsa. It’s a gorgeous plating made spectacular with a dry ice mist wafting across the dish and you’ll want to Instagram the heck out of this edible work of art. #foodporn
Our next course was the photogenic scampi appetiser, where the meaty flesh has been delectably extracted, leaving a skeleton of the beady-eyed crustacean to garnish the plate. The bite-sized morsels of lightly seared NZ scampi are infused with foie gras, topped with shredded apple, shiso, and miso vinaigrette. It’s a unique combination with the rich and buttery texture of foie gras lingering long afterwards.
To follow is a Binchotan slow-grilled charcoal chicken, a traditional Japanese technique that uses excessive heat, leaving the skin with a crispy yet sticky crust and the meat oh-so-soft beyond belief. My chopsticks return to the plate time and again, sweeping the chicken through the celeriac foam, yakitori sauce, and tiny mounds of yuzu honey. It’s a game changer and I may never be satisfied with another chicken dish again.
Theatrics continue as head chef Adam Lane presented a plate of sliced Wagyu tenderloin with a side of grilled baby gem. The tenderloin is topped with a solid block of wasabi butter which Adam blasts with a blow torch, melting the butter into the rare meat and releasing an aromatic waft of seared beef and wasabi. Melt-in-your-mouth is an overused term tonight, but it’s not often accurately used to describe red meat.
Even if you were not a dessert person, it’d be criminal to leave without finishing with Kiyomi’s legendary chocolate sweet, Goma Street. Served alongside a scoop of black sesame ice cream is an intricate tower of caramelised white chocolate mousse and sesame chunks, squashed between four layers of tempered chocolate.
“You’re going to want to crack right through those chocolate shells, and scoop up all the flavours together”.
Those gentle words of expert advice came from the master Chase Kojima himself, who watched from behind the raw sushi bar. Restaurant Executive Chef, Chase is well-known and highly respected in Sydney and further afield, yet his age is deceiving. Having started out as an 11-year-old in his father’s San Francisco-based restaurant, he’s since led kitchens in Robert de Niro’s prestigious Nobu restaurants in Dubai, Los Angeles, London and the Bahamas, before re-locating down under and opening Sokyo (a mash of Sydney and Tokyo, get it!) in The Star Casino in 2011. And in 2015 he was recognised as Australian Hotel Association’s Chef of the Year (impressive, no?!).
I quietly admit I’d not given Jupiters Hotel & Casino a look in for some time, but after hearing continual chatter about significant changes afoot—impressive renovations to the hotel’s executive suites, the new and beautifully-styled Garden Kitchen & Bar, and a six-star hotel currently in the works, I had to give it a go.
Open from 5:30pm for dinner, Monday to Saturday, Kiyomi is definitely worthy of the drive south or, better yet, build a GC itinerary and make a weekend out of it.
Image credit: Edward Tsang
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