Spectacular dining at Sepia
To continue my fine dining tour of Sydney, I went to Sepia just a few weeks after Momofuku. I barely traveled in June/July which of course meant I could spend on a meal what I would normally spend on a plane ticket. (Absurd I know, but that is the fine dining scene in Sydney…and many other places to be honest.) We went all out on the degustation dinner at the three-hatted Sepia, It was an incredibly impressive meal but I have to say was probably the longest dining experience of my life, clocking in at just under five hours. The food is unbelievably creative and the team of chefs working there are young, ridiculously talented, and constantly churning out really cutting-edge, stunningly beautiful works of art on a plate.
Dining here is obviously not for the faint of heart, as the price tag is hefty, the dinner is loooong, and some of the dishes are a bit too adventurous even for me. But for a special occasion, it’s definitely in my top few in Sydney. I love what they do with seafood and their desserts are to die for.
Sashimi of Southern Blue Fin tuna, steamed Japanese omelette, and white soy jelly with dashi onion cream, puffed buckwheat, green apple, and wasabi. Incredible first course – there was a bit too much cream for my taste but I absolutely loved the omelette touch and of course the sashimi was perfection.
Sashimi of bonito, with flavours of roasted chicken, umeboshi (had to look this up – apparently it’s Japanese salted plums), upland cress, green tea, and nori. This was actually warm which was a surprise. I think the completely cold one was better but I liked this a lot too.
Yabby (it’s like a mini Australian lobster), seaweed puree, ginger, shellfish and blood orange emulsion, and sorrel. Firstly, the fact that this is called a yabby is amazing, and secondly, it tastes incredible. Sorry American friends that you have never experienced this crustacean.
Sea scallop with a grain mustard and ox cheek dashi mousse and a potato and garlic crumb. This mousse was a little much for me. I mean, ox cheek? Even I am not that adventurous. I probably would have just preferred a nice seared scallop, sorry.
But this next course more than made up for it – one of the best of the lot so far – A New Zealand scampi (aka the really expensive version of shrimp) with a shellfish mousse. The seafood was cooked so perfectly and the little accompaniments on the side were divine.
Charcoal grilled wagyu rump with sea urchin and wasabi butter (because obviously normal butter is not good enough), garlic chive mustard leaves, and ponzu. I am not much of a meat eater, to the point where I basically only eat wagyu because it is incredible. And wow yes that sounds ridiculously snobby. But I eat really humble vegetarian food!
Seared venison with boudin noir, chocolate crumb, blackcurrent, and macadamia nut yoghurt. Wagyu, yes, but venison not so much. My fellow diners enjoyed this more than I did I think. I do like incorporating chocolate into meat dishes, but this was just a little too rich for me.
THE BEST COURSE EVER. Our pre dessert: a playful and GENIUS take on strawberries and cream. This is a frozen strawberry that was somehow hollowed out – there is sheep yoghurt sorbet inside with Champagne cream and wild strawberry sherbet that’s been powderised somehow. Absolutely stunning. The sorbet inside the strawberry mold was like a flavour burst in your mouth that was so cold and utterly refreshing. If I had to choose one favourite course out of all of these, this would be it! This is 100% the reason why I go to fine dining places – to experience innovation like this.
Another shocking gastronomic delight: soft poached meringue with TRUFFLE ICE CREAM, hazelnut praline, and malt powder. And of course some edible flowers. This was such a weird sensation in your mouth because it wasn’t really that sweet, and truffles are just so distinctive in their flavour that it’s almost offputting, but then you eat more and you’re like wow that is actually genius. Incredibly clever use of flavours and textures here.
Their signature “Chocolate Forest” dessert – they change it by the season. This is the winter one: soft chocolate, hazelnut and almond, orange and thyme cream, sour cherry sorbet, cocoa brandy jellies, green tea, licorice, and chocolate twigs. Honestly there must have been 14+ components in this dish. My fellow diners didn’t like this nearly as much as I did which slightly horrified me, because honestly a chocolate forest is basically my idea of heaven. And it’s hard to describe, but it really did taste like a forest – with hidden chocolate underneath all those twigs, and a distinctly earthy flavour that the sour cherry sorbet contrasted with delightfully.
So in summary, if you really really like someone (like a LOT), this is a fantastic date restaurant for a really special occasion, but expect to spend hours and hours having to make conversation with them. The chefs at Sepia are constantly doing ever more impressive feats with their menu and it’s quite the experience. But expect to shell out the big bucks for it!