Bite-sized Summary: When Michelin-trained chef Hideki Okazaki blends western technique with quintessentially Japanese flavours, the result bursts with creativity and irresistible flavour. Expect dishes of a fine dining standard in the comfort of what feels like a hidden, local gem.
Having been open for just one month, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Eiju, a little “fusion” restaurant on Harris Street in Pyrmont. Inside, it’s a small, cosy space with a casual vibe – specials written on a chalkboard wall, pendant lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling, and irregular shelving across the back wall housing bottles of wine, sake and various clay ceramics.
Salmon confit with pearl onions, yuzu citrus foam and tosaka seaweed ($15)
To start, a balancing act of tastes and textures — remarkably soft morsels of salmon confit with a gentle, smooth flavour sit alongside crisp pearl onions, coils of zucchini and paper-thin sheets of radish and tosaka seaweed, all finished off with puffs of bright, citrusy yuzu foam. A beautiful and elegant dish, which showcased wonderful technique, but for me, lacked depth beyond the delicate, subtle flavours.
Spicy soft shell crab fritters with guacamole, black sesame and yogurt sauce
Next, an unusual combination of familiar ingredients — soft shell crab with guacamole and a striking black sesame and yogurt sauce. For me, there wasn’t enough sauce on the plate for it to contribute much flavour, however, that the soft shell crab alone was so juicy and flavoursome that it didn’t really matter. I also loved how artistically this dish was presented with an inky brushstroke of sauce across serving plates, which are also made by the chef.
Potato croquettes with manchego crisps, cauliflower purée and corn salsa
The waitress informed us that as this was the first time making these croquettes, they were much bigger than intended — we said, make them bigger! We don’t mind 😅
These reminded me a lot of the potato and corn croquettes that you can get at casual udon/ramen joints where you line up with a tray and pick from the variety of tempura and fried items. Incredibly soft and fluffy potato and cauliflower puree inside a crispy, golden shell, served with salty manchego crisps and fresh corn salsa.
Pan fried salmon with turnips and blood orange beurre blanc
We were in awe of the stunning, vibrant colours of our first main — pan fried salmon with turnips and blood orange beurre blanc. The salmon was cooked absolutely perfectly, with a crispy, golden skin and soft pink flesh. The blood orange beurre blanc had a pleasant flavour, however, lent toward the sweet side, whereas we thought that a slightly more acidic sauce would have helped cut through the fatty salmon.
Pan fried kingfish with bean salad, pea powder and pea purée with yuzu cream
Next, a stunning plate of juicy, delicate pan-fried kingfish with perfectly seasoned crispy skin, on top of an artistic swirl of pea puree, bean salad, pea powder and dollops of yuzu cream. Here, is a perfect example Eiju’s Western/Japanese fusion in both technique and the marriage of flavours, which may not ordinarily go together. Absolutely delicious!
Roasted lamb with eggplant miso gratin and celeriac purée
The first of the meat dishes was the roasted lamb on a bed of eggplant miso gratin with celeriac puree. The lamb was tender, succulent and full of flavour, albeit quite fatty on some pieces more than others. I’m a big fan of miso eggplant and this was no exception; soft flesh scooped straight from the skin, it had a pleasant, light miso flavour.
Roasted duck with quinoa, kale and black sesame sauce ($35)
Next, a generous serving of roast duck perfectly cooked to the rarer end of medium-rare. Served with quinoa, kale and a nutty black sesame sauce, the duck meat itself was most memorable for me. With a layer of fat under the crispy, golden skin, it was incredibly succulent and flavoursome.
Roasted quail wrapped in prosciutto with miso sauce and yuzu milk foam
The final main was a great example of chef Hideki Okazaki’s ability to seamlessly combine western techniques with quintessentially Japanese flavours and ingredients. Featuring delicate and moist roasted quail wrapped in a crispy, salty coat of proscuitto, with miso sauce and yuzu milk foam.
Hojicha crème brûlée with black sesame ice cream ($16)
Forming the first of two desserts at Eiju — hojicha crème brûlée served with black sesame ice cream . Protected by a crisp burnt sugar crust, the silky-smooth custard base had a delicate roasted green tea flavour from the hojicha. Sharing a nutty flavour profile, the scoop of black sesame ice cream with shards of meringue on the side overwhelmed the hojicha flavour when eaten together, however, on it’s own had a fantastic texture and rich black sesame flavour.
Matcha green tea and white chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream and meringue ($18)
The grand finale and I daresay, my favourite dish of the day — matcha green tea and white chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream and meringue. Cutting into the dense outer shell, I expected an oozy molten centre so was surprised by the fast-flowing eruption of matcha white chocolate lava. Relatively thin in consistency, it maintained a beautiful rich matcha flavour sweetened with smooth white chocolate. Together with the vanilla ice cream, this was a luxurious and decadent dessert and the perfect way to finish off our meal.
Based upon looks alone, I would never have expected this humble and relatively unassuming shopfront to house such a high calibre of food. Marrying Eastern flavours with flawless Western technique, the dishes we sampled were creative, delicious and presented in a way that wouldn’t look out of place in a fine-dining restaurant. The highlight for me was the kingfish main second to both desserts, which were incredible in both execution and flavour.
Eats with Marie dined as a guest of Eiju Fusion Japanese Dining as part of FCBA. All opinions, comments and photos are 100% honest and my own.
Eiju Fusion Japanese Dining
196 Harris St, Pyrmont NSW 2009
(02) 8590 3433
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