Thursday, August 4, 2011

J-Ten, Sydney

This eating adventure opposite the QVB all started because of a Scoopon deal, where for $49 you got $144 worth of food and beverages of your choice at the relatively newly opened J-Ten.  Now I see a lot of restaurant deals, but after finding out that the head chef Yang Wu of J-Ten worked under Kenji Nishinakagawa previously of Koi in Woolwich, I could not look the other way, as Koi is one of my favourite Japanese restaurants in Sydney.

It was Friday night, so some drinks to wind down were needed.  Cheesecake Boy ordered an Asashi beer and as there were no cocktails, I went for a couple of glasses of Japanese plum wine.  I really love the sweetness of plum wine, it makes it too easy to go down.  I also took a shot of our water glasses, as I thought the glasses were quite unusual in their irregularity.

Asashi on tap, $9.80
"Choya" Plum Wine, $7.50

They have quite an extensive menu, so there is bound to be something for everyone.  However, we were told by our waiter that J-Ten aims to provide a point of difference by providing contemporary Japanese options with a Westernised spin on them.

I don't usually order agadeshi tofu when I eat out as I can cook this myself.  However, we were informed that they make their own mushroom sauce and decided to give it a go.  The sauce was a very subtle shitake mushroom broth that almost leans towards being bland as there are no extra enhances added, which is a good thing though.  I prefer my agedashi tofu to have a crunchier exterior, but the tofu was lovely and creamy inside.

Agedashi tofu, $9

There was no way that we were not going to order sashimi, as it is Cheesecake Boy's favourite Japanese indulgence.  Besides the usual fresh sashimi, there was also a lovely selection of aburi sashimi, which is sashimi that has been seared and in this case with a delicate sweet teriyaki-like sauce.  It was nice mix of raw and aburi style sashimi consisting of salmon, kingfish, tuna, scallop, bonito and I was particularly intrigued by the seared squid, as it was slightly charred and just perfectly cooked through to give it a bit of bite.  However, the sashimi combo at Sake Restaurant and Bar is still our firm favourite in Sydney as the freshness of their sashimi is just unparalleled.

Large sashimi platter (21 pieces), $42

We were really looking forward to our entree of miso scallops.  The beautifully pan fried scallops wrapped with prosciutto served with white miso sauce, truffle oil and plum shiso salt were plump and delicate morsels.  The crisp prosciutto with the juicy scallops and creamy white miso sauce was a lovely combination and went down a treat. 

Miso scallops, $16

I felt like some sushi so I decided on the Oz roll to Cheesecake Boy's dismay.  The Oz roll was described to consist of deep fried fish and potato in cucumber wrap, I had never even heard of this combination before so I decided it was a must try.  When our sushi came I had a bit of a giggle due to the Kettle chips, they are a form of potato after all.  The waiter explained the rolls can look different depending on the chef's creativity on the day, so I guess that may explain the missing cucumber wrap and the use of seared salmon instead of deep fried fish as described in the menu.  This combination actually worked, and it was a lot of fun to eat due to the crunchiness of the chips and nicely seared salmon.  I would definitely order this again, if I knew that this roll was going to be consistently the same.

Oz roll, $18

I don't usually take a picture of the rice we ordered, but for $5 a bowl I figured it needed it's own photo this time.  It was just the usual slightly sticky streamed rice served at other Japanese establishments.

Rice, $5

The mains at J-Ten are quite different to what you would expect a Japanese restaurant to serve, so Cheesecake Boy and I figured we'd go out on a limb and order the more unusual mains such as the lamb rack. The slow poached lamb rack was crumbed with panko crumbs and was served with a delicately sweet red miso sauce, pumpkin mash, English spinach and a small side of asparagus, carrots and pickled spring onions.  Unfortunately, the lamb was lukewarm by the time it was served, and the accompanying pumpkin mash and English spinach were fridge cold.  The actual flavours went well together, but the lack of heat let this down for me.

Slow poached lamb rack crumbed with red miso and served with pumpkin mash and English spinach, $32

Our crisp duck slice main came next and the duck was also lukewarm.  However, the peppery mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes under the duck was actually hot, but again the asparagus was quite cold though.  I did not think that our duck main was unpleasant, but I did find the combination of the very peppery mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes slightly overpowering against the natural richness of the tender duck quite unusual.

Crispy skin duck breast roasted and finished with mushroom and sun dried tomatoes on classic plum sauce, $29

We were quite full, but still had enough room for dessert, so it was a choice between the deep fried taro roll pastry served with Camembert cheese and a green tea shake or the black cheesecake cake.  The black bean soy cheesecake with black sesame ice cream and soy mousse prevailed, and the serving was a lot larger than I had expected.  It was hard to say whether  I like this dessert as the soy cheesecake seemed to be sweet and not sweet at the same time and there was a lingering taste that I think would consider an acquired tasted.  However, the cheesecake was light and creamy in texture.  The lotus root chips were more there for decoration, and I prefer my black sesame ice cream sweeter.  The wooden spoons provided were a novelty, but not that practical though.  This dessert would be a good choice for those who like their desserts that sit in limbo between savoury and sweet.

Black bean soy cheesecake with black sesame ice cream and soy mousse, $21

J-Ten serves nice food that sometimes tries too hard.  However, these are some of the few hiccups that can be ironed out and that's expected with a restaurant that has only been opened for a couple of months.  My other gripe is that the prices seem to be on par with what you would expect to pay at Koi or Sake Restaurant and Bar.  Unfortunately, I don't think J-Ten is quite in the same league yet.  However, staff are attentive and I love the cosy intimacy that J-Ten provides. 

Dining away, Dumpling Girl.

119 York Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9267 0822

J-Ten on Urbanspoon


Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said...

The interior here reminds me a little of Koi. Have you heard that Koi is closed temporarily? =(

And I had to do a double-take with that Oz Roll - for a moment I saw what looked like hard tacos filled with rice!

chocolatesuze said...

lols the oz roll sounds crazy delish!

sugarpuffi said...

whoa that sashimi platter and miso scallops looks freakin good! shame about the warm duck :(

Jen said...

The oz roll sounds like a great idea. I really want to try it!

Dumpling Girl said...

Hi mademoiselle délicieuse, I read somewhere that it was closed, but I thought that wasn't possible. It's a shame as I wanted to lunch there soon. You have any idea why it is temporarily close? Lol, tacos I see where you could get that idea.

Hey Suze, it was different in a good way :)

Hi sugarpuffi, the scallops and sashimi were really lovely. Yeah the duck was a bit of a let down.

Hello Jen, the Oz roll was a lot of fun, really enjoyed it.

jack said...

hehe I bought the same scoopon voucher! So this post has been very useful information. Pity about the lukewarm mains, but the sushi and entrees looked good, esp the sushi with potato chips :)

Dumpling Girl said...

Lol, great minds think a like I guess, Jack :D I really did enjoy the entrees and the sashimi. The Oz roll was definitely my favourite though, but I love Kettle chips.

chopinandmysaucepan said...

The duck breast looks good especially when the skin is crispy! $5 for the rice is pretty steep even with an extra sprinkling of black sesame :)

Dumpling Girl said...

Hey chopinand, lol yes the addition of black sesame does not warrant the $5 price tag for a bowl of rice.