Coloured in its own name and dressed in the air of the early ’90s, Sepia was a truly inspiring experience. We were met with warm and immaculately dressed wait staff who guided us through the restaurant. In the deep auburn lighting we walked upon chequered tiles towards our dark wooden tables and firmly woven couches.
We began with a trio of seafood for entrée. Wrapped inside a wafer collar of tiny anchovies were cubes of fresh kingfish topped with sweet and slightly acidic dashi jelly. Second was the smoked prawn with pickled daikon and shell powder. Third was a soft jewel of salmon, lightened by the smoked roe yet sharpened by its sour citrus exterior.
The spanner crab finds a new shell in the pea garden, shedding its exoskeleton for a soft sake vinegar cloak. The sweet morsels of crab are complemented by the peppery wasabi and pea powder. The brown butter emulsion ties the dish together.
A warm dish of soft sweet scallops, yolky quail egg and smooth macademia cream with hints of umeboshi. The crunch and presentation of the scallop crackling and flowers makes for a textural and beautiful dish.
The chargrilled black lip abalone was cooked delicately, allowing the diner to enjoy every bite. The mollusc sits surrounded by its home garden of samphire, crystal ice plant and wakame oil, they add saltiness and fresh crunch. The depth of savoriness is added by the dashi cream.
Such tenderness in a single slice of bonito and refined with luscious chicken cream, smoked soy and caviar – a well balanced dish indeed.
The smokiness seeped through the sea urchin and the texture of the crackling seaweed interrupted the smoothness of the roe.
The dish of the night – Marron with shellfish and shiso emulsion. Sweet marron with just the right amount of firmness with a rich pairing of buttery and savory tones of the shiso emulsion. A beautiful way to embrace the delicate crustacean.
A roasted Aylesbury duck breast sits squarely against its accompaniments of sorrel, sheep yoghurt, lemon aspen and mulberry vinegar. The strong taste of duck was balanced well with the acidity of the mulberry vinegar and sweetness of the lemon aspen, whilst the sheep yoghurt rounded off the flavours.
The chargrilled David Blackmore’s wagyu was one to boast. Delicate wagyu dressed with roasted onion and mustard sauce, nameko mushrooms and shiso.
Our pre-dessert was one shiny, fluffy meringue covering a rich, creamy, citrus almost custard-like base with hints of yuzu and lemon.
The first dessert was Milks. Within its warm bowl were 6 variations of milk – milk chocolate, milk skin, rice milk pudding, goats’ milk dulce de leche, sheep milk sorbet, milk cake and yuba. Quite interesting flavour contrasts from tangy to sweet to slightly bitter.
We finished this encapsulating dining experience with none other than the Winter Chocolate Forest. So picturesque in emulating a winter forest floor with a blackberry sorbet egg, chocolate twig nest, chocolate soil, crystalised fennel fronds, green tea moss and violets. The taste uncovers more, with sharp lemon/verjus jellies, the earthiness of the almond and hazelnut, richness of the ganache and aniseed flavours of the fennel and licorice. The textural crunching as one eats the dish also mimics that of shoes crunching upon the snowy forest floor.
The dishes soon finished and we each embraced the cold night with a dinner photo in sepia to keep forever.
- Location: Darling Harbour side, on Sussex street
- Service: 5/5
- Price: $$$$$
Sepia | 201 Sussex Street, Sydney |