PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
The somewhat unglamorous entrance via the Overseas Passenger Terminal lift is but a distant memory once you enter the doors of Yuki's At The Quay. Greeted with a smile that is worth a million dollars and with manners that I can only hope will one day be passed onto my children, I almost forget why we are here. All these unusual pleasantries have put me off my "Little Miss Critical" game. The restaurant is quiet and intimate and yet has a very chic New York feel to it – all glossy black, twinkling mirrors and low ceilings. My dining guest and I are seated with a view of the entire Opera House and there isn't a panel of that odd-looking tourist landmark obscured. I make a personal note to bring any tourists to this restaurant. Even if it is just to sip sake at sunset in the outdoor dining space.
On the waiter's recommendation, we start with the chef's selection of 7 types of assorted antipasti. Expecting meagre mouthfuls, we order one each. Our boatful (and yes I mean BOAT-FUL) of Japanese goodness arrives and I briefly consider cancelling the rest of the order. But rather than filling us up, each dish awakens the taste buds. The simplicity of wagyu tataki (which is visibly marbled) topped with toasted white sesame seeds, tangy shallots and drizzled with a subtle ponzu sauce creates a textured and balanced mouthful. While the subtlety of the Natural Pacific oyster dressed with an eschallot and citrus vinaigrette is a perfect accompaniment to the crisp, crunchiness of the soft shell crab.
The chef's selection of sashimi are a colourful array of thickly sliced raw fish –your standard kingfish, tuna and salmon trio are there but there are also more exotic varieties such as yellow-fin tuna, snapper and mackerel. As a sashimi lover, these are welcome additions. We're informed that the seafood travels from the Sydney Fish Markets to Yuki's on a daily basis and as I devour dish after dish, there is no questioning it. It is as fresh as fresh.
But the hero dish - Nobu's black cod with miso remains one of the most pleasing dishes that has ever touched my lips, and while that memory has made its mark for all of my eternity – the grilled cod with sweet miso at Yuki's is reminiscent of my Nobu fairytale. Two fillets of cod elegantly lean against each other, like old friends. As I tentatively place the chopsticks on the fish, it falls apart – exposing its moist and buttery flesh. A small bed of creamy spinach cuts through the slight saltiness of the miso and unifies the dish.
Seafood lovers will rejoice, as will meat-eaters. The Wagyu beef (sourced locally, I am assured) is a standout. Doused in what is described as the chef's "special sauce" and as equally marbled as the tataki – each hunk of beef disintegrates with but a gentle chew. The wine list is extensive and the sake is all imported from Japan.
There is not an ounce of pretension at this refined Japanese restaurant that prides itself on providing outstanding service and incredible food. But beyond the view, which is undeniably memorable and impressive, it is the warm hospitality of Yuki's staff that will keep patrons coming back.