Thursday, 20 August 2015

Sono - Portside

One of my close friends and I had a rather significant victory to commemorate, and when he offered to take me out to dinner at whatever place I wanted, I jumped at the offer and asked that we go to one of the most prestigious Japanese Restaurants in Brisbane.

We went to Sono at Portside Wharf after enjoying The Man from U.N.C.L.E (which was very enjoyable and highly recommended.)

Having our past experience in difficulty obtaining a table on short notice, we definitely booked well in advance, which was a prudent choice, as the restaurant was full up for the evening.

I was pleasantly surprised to be given a sunken table which mimics the traditional Japanese tatami. Indeed I would have put in a request for one specifically, but wanted to avoid the hassle, so it was an excellent start to the evening. They had a shoes off policy for eating at the sunken table, which was quite novel in Brisbane. 

The surroundings were elegant and calming, as one would expect from such an establishment. 

We were provided water very promptly before we ordered food.

Rather than alcohol, we settled on a traditional pot of Hojicha to complement our meal.

Our two orders of salmon sashimi came with much spectacle, being served upon dry ice. Being a big fan of salmon (as my readers would know), I was very excited to see that they had Alpine Salmon on their menu. To draw a comparison, we ordered one serve of the regular Tasmanian Salmon and one portion of the Alpine Salmon. I was advised that the lighter coloured salmon with some skin was the Alpine variety, whilst the darker coloured ones with the skin completely off was Tasmanian. In comparing the two, Tasmanian Salmon had a much sweeter and smoother flesh, as we are normally used to, but he Alpine Salmon had a far more delicate fresh seafood flavour, and more texture to its flesh. It was quite delicious. We really appreciated the opportunity to try both types of salmon.

Next to arrive was the Gyu Tataki (very lightly seared raw beef sashimi), served with a citrus soy dipping sauce, crushed ginger and garlic. We loved how the beef was well marbled and melted in our mouth. The garlic and ginger definitely packed an extra zing to it and left us appetised and wanting more.

Luckily we didn't have to wait very long. Three dishes came in very quick succession after this.

Our two orders of sushi came served on one plate.

The prawn tempura roll was served with avocado to add to the creaminess of the roll, and tobiko to give it extra crunch. The rice was cooked to a wonderful texture, and it was all nicely wrapped in seaweed. If the topping to rice ratio was a bit more generous, this would have been the most perfect tempura prawn roll I have ever tasted.

Following on my comments on the topping to rice ratio, this was definitely corrected in the soft shell crab roll, which had very generous portions of soft shell crab, and ample rice on the outside. The crab was fried to a nice crisp, whilst locking in the juices on the inside. It was wonderfully enjoyable.

That evening, I managed to try something I've always eyed off on their menu. The fresh salmon tartare was very delectable. Whilst those little cubes on the bottom may look like tofu, they are actually little squares of fried rice patties. The raw salmon was delightfully infused with miso and sesame oils, giving it a smooth and delicious texture, which contrasted with the outside of the rice parcels. My only suggestion with this dish though, would have been that the fried part of the rice patty could have been thinner, which would have added to the complexity of the dish.

In the running theme of Crab dishes that my friend and I have going, we tried the Tempura Alaskan King Crab, which was served with sea salt. It was a simple but exquisite dish, which brought out the sweetness in the crab flesh, and allowed us to enjoy the basic element of crab for what it was without being overpowered by other tastes. 

In the name of variety, I also ordered the Ebi Avocado Yaki, being a grilled cheesy avocado prawn. Despite being grilled, the prawn was quite moist in texture. The cheese and avocado were very creamy, and definitely added much to the texture of the prawn and made it quite delectable. 

We rounded off our meal with a nourishing pot of Nabeyaki Udon (for further information relating to Nabeyaki Udon, please see my explanation in my Oshin entry). The nabeyaki at Sono contained all the essential elements, such as a comforting soup, squishy udon, egg, eggplant, prawns, chicken and shiitake mushrooms. I was particularly impressed with how attentive the chef was to separate the prawn and the eggplant, as it was fried, and the soup would have softened the tempura batter. In the top photo, to the right side of the egg, you see something that I mistook to be tofu. From the photo on the left, you can actually see that it was traditional Japanese Ozoni, a type of savoury grilled soup mochi which is often served during new years. I wanted to try this for quite some time now. It was very very elastic and chewy whilst being soft and smooth at the same time. I loved the experience.

I really enjoyed my night out at Sono, especially because we were lucky enough to also get to appreciate the sight of fireworks from the CBD. Whilst it was very expensive, I think it a worthwhile destination, especially for special events.

Price Range: $80+ per person

Taste: 9.5/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 9/10
Environment: 9.5/10

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