Japanese meals are usually simple and very well presented. A good Japanese chef would balance his flavours and textures well, and artfully arrange his meal of captivating colours on stunning tableware (usually a lot more expensive than they look - if you have ever tried to pick up one of those serving plates, the first thing you would notice is how heavy and solid it is!).
One mid-week night, I stumbled across Fuku Restaurant unplanned. It is discretely nested up on Level 1 at World Square, Sydney just opposite Ding Tai Fung. I must have walked past them many times and not noticed them?
I was greeted by their friendly staff quickly on arrival and lead to a spacious 4 person table by the window (even though there was only 2 of us). It was mid-week and the restaurant was obviously not at capacity. I was impressed by their considerate service (some restaurants would put us on a smaller table despite there being plenty of larger available tables). Big tick!
The restaurant is nicely furnished and dimly lit - my first impression was "Uh oh, it's mid-week and I just walked into a fine dining restaurant with a friend, who was working overtime and just stepped out to grab a quick bite with me! Fail." However on opening the menu I was presented with, I quickly discovered I was very wrong (whilst the eye repetitively flicked over to the separate sake menu lying lazily on the table in front of me - it was mid-week and I do make an effort to avoid drinking on weeknights). The menu was very fairly priced with a well-rounded sake menu - this was an izakaya restaurant (居酒屋) - perfect!
What is an izakaya restaurant? The word 'izakaya' means 'to stay, in a sake shop'. A typical izakaya restaurant offers a good sake menu and serves food on the side to accompany the drinks. Therefore you may find that the portion size of food served in izakaya restaurants smaller than what you would find in your average Japanese restaurant.
Though I didn't plan to drink, I felt a little obliged to order a bottle of sake - nothing fancy just the chilled house sake. The sake served was dry and had rich rice flavour, exactly as I like it, and very affordable.
Our first dish was the Kingfish Carpaccio. Very fresh, served with a citrus dressing and baby herbs. It was the perfect starter and very appetising indeed.
Next the Salmon Belly Aburi was served (note the salmon belly was not on the menu, but can be specially requested subject to availability). I always prefer the fattier part of salmon and would go for the belly wherever possible. After searing the belly, the salmon simply melts in the mouth. Yum!
Finally came the Smoked Miso Cod. I was very unsure about this dish at the start because bar cod tastes awesome when cooked well, but can be a total fail if not cooked properly. Before this dish was set on our table, the first thing we picked up was the smell - a tantalising smokey flavour. The dish was set down and before us was two flat pieces of wood still burning (we think it may have been cedar wood but forgot to ask) tied together with cooking string. The string was cut loose, the top piece of wood lifted off and there was the smoked cod, and it looked good! The fish was tender, dressed in a sweet teriyaki-like sauce, and strongly smokey - it was truly divine!
What an unexpectedly and surprisingly wonderful experience this was. This place is great for a casual date-night with your other half, or a girly catch up (did I mention the drop-dead gorgeous waiter?).
Fuku Restaurant Sake & Wine
Level 1, Shop 1103 World Square
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9261 8977