Friday, July 27, 2007

Mikaku - Spawn of the Devil

Quite simply the most disgusting meal I have ever had.

I'm a sushi pig. Everyone knows that. And in general I'll eat anything not nailed down. But ...

Mikaku in Salamanca Place has been famous for its sushi buffet for years. Almost as famous is the filthy carpet and nauseating toilets. But hey, we'd figured we're not eating off the floor or the toilet, and so over the years the sushi buffet has been an occasional indulgence in gluttony for gluttony's sake.

That is, until a recent weekend.

We arrived just after opening. Being just after opening, we thought we'd be first-ish in line for a super-fresh sushi buffet hog-fest. Maybe God was trying to tell me something about gluttony (a bit late now), but instead of super-fresh sushi, this is what we found:

  1. The mayonnaise tasted tinny - was it off?
  2. The omelette atop the "egg sushi" was grey around the edges. How long had it sat there?
  3. The rice in each piece of sushi was stale.
  4. The tonic in my g & t was flat.
  5. And then there was the tuna ...
The "raw tuna" was chewy, very chewy. It was chewy for a very good reason. It wasn't tuna.

Sitting on the counter behind the sushi bar was a lump of silverside sitting in its open supermarket packaging. This is what was being sliced up and passed off as tuna.


Raw silverside.

For the sake of your health, for the sake of all that is holy, avoid this place. I'm of a mind to call the health inspector. Look out, here comes another wave of nausea!


p.s. If you want sushi there are only two things you need to know:
  1. Orizuru in the Mure's complex
  2. Kawasemi in Moonah

Both have Japanese masters in the kitchen. The only authentic Japanese to be had in Hobart.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Golden Harbour

Golden Harbour sits quietly minding its own business in Hunter St, under Zero Davey. It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of spot, next door to Saffron. I was completely put off when I tried to book a table over the phone. It was way too hard. But something made me persist.

Oh lordy, my China Syndrome quest may have yielded the unholy grail of hangover cures ...

The evidence:
  1. Wonton soup that has redefined my opinion of what great wonton soup looks and tastes like. A delicate broth reminiscent of the royal Chinese cuisine we tasted in Vietnam. A bowl with seaweed and wontons that looked so appealing and so fresh that I expected wee fishies to be darting in and out of the seaweed. The wontons were little burstlets of flavour and I could have eaten this all day.
  2. Steamed scallops served on the half shell - fresh, plump, and had to be teased free of the shell. Served with crushed fresh garlic, rice vermicelli, and a delicate mirin-style sauce. Gorgeous!
  3. Salt and pepper prawns with shells that shattered in the mouth - yes people, eat them with the shells on (unlike the indelicate manhandling I watched at the next table). Salty. Peppery. Prawny. Yummy.

They advertise themselves as purveyors of Fine Chinese Cuisine ... and I'm glad to say I didn't feel this was an overstatement.

The setting is very comfortable. No laminate or vinyl to be seen, instead there are carved timber tables and very solid chairs. The service was attentive and considerate, if a little awkward at times. Booking by telephone is a feat in communication - but well worth it. I'm not sure I'm convinced by the wisdom of the big screen TV airing Chinese variety shows, but I'm sure I'll grow to love it.

The sad thing is that Sunday lunch is by booking only. No bookings, they're closed. So, as far as my spontaneous hangover cure goes ... there'll be a little less spontaneity involved. Until of course they are regularly hounded by the likes of us for a Sunday lunch ... then it should be on for young and old!

Oh, I forgot to mention Golden Harbour is great value. Four of us shared:
2 bottles of Nobilo sauvignon blanc
Wonton soup each
Steamed scallops with rice vermicelli and garlic
Whole steamed fish with garlic and ginger
Salt and pepper prawns
Total price ... $160. Most excellent indeed!

AND THEN we went back for more. Our second outing was a brave dip into the other items on the menu. Beans with mince. Sounds appetising, non? Well let me tell you buster, don't screw your little nose up until you've tried it!

In stark and grossly disappointing contrast was our visit to the Bund in Shanghai. The elegant interior set my expectations way too high. The team from Sen's is behind the scenes, so the duck should be a corker. Our meal (not duck) was less than great, our waitress should have been wearing L-plates (and perhaps she was), in short everything that could have gone wrong did. BUT I'm putting this down to opening niggles. This could be a great restaurant once they settle in. However, the pending birth of Mee Wah in Magnet Court is going to be a big competitor. Let's hope there's enough good will for everyone. At this rate we'll soon be referring to "Sandy Beijing".

In the meantime ... Get thee to Golden Harbour in Hunter St and try those damn scallops!