This is going to be a long post so let me get to the drop the mic line as quickly as possible.
There’s nowhere you rather be ju-rin dinner than at the sushi bar inside Hana Ju-Rin.
Located in the very back of the restaurant behind a grill, bar and the ghosts of thousands of satsified diners, Tomoyuki Matsuya showcases his mastery of sushi on a daily basis. Opting for omakase (Japanese for “i’m in your hands”) is the best way to experience his craft and that is exactly what the lovely annachaannn and I did.
The omakase menu consists of a starter, 3 appetisers, 10 pieces of sashimi, 15 pieces of nigiri sushi, 1 dessert piece of sushi and good God I’m tired just listing all of it let alone preparing it or eating it.
Let’s get right to it:
The meal started with a bang like a date in reverse where you go and engage in some hanky panky before getting to dinner and a movie. Octopus with the texture of Christmas ham and none of the chewy resistance you’d normally associate with octopus, the truffle oil just tops it all of.
I would love to go on a reverse date with this dish again.
The next course arrives shortly afterwards with a 3 hit combo of egg custard, spinach and tuna. This is easily the best trio since Destiny’s Child in their prime (their prime probably being when Say my Name first came out even if they were carrying that mysterious 4th member at the time).
The egg custard was my favourite of the three (let’s call her Beyonce) with its warm, nourishing and hearty nature. It was just so fragrant and contained some surprise shrimp and mushroom at the bottom of the tiny dish.
The spinach (Kelly Rowland) and BBQ tuna (Michelle) were also incredible and just added more fuel to my desire for sashimi.
A platter that made me splatter; it was an all-star line up of fish on a plate.
Everything presented was a bite to be reckoned with but the standout pieces for me were the fatty chu toro (you’re going to be reading this quite a bit) and the shrimp coated in a simple citrus bath. Makes me wonder if I would seem more attractive if I showered in lemon juice instead of soap.
The piece of john dory was a strong start with with the shiso’s grassy nature and the yuzu soy really elevating the bite.
With 15 courses of nigiri ahead of me, I was ready for some hits and misses. Spoiler alert, in this instance, miss is just a girl’s name as Master Matsuya doesn’t know how to mess up.
A ruby more valuable than any form of jewellery, this sesame oil drenched piece of ruby fish was amazing. The slight sour kick provided by the plum and the aromatic sesame oil was such a unique combination and not something I’ve experienced with sushi before.
Let’s just say it was one of the many memorable first times I’ve experienced in my life.
I did a bit of a double take when chef Matsuya told us the name of the fish being served. I wasn’t sure if he was referring to fish or a type of groupie you’d encounter at a rock concert. The affinity that the bass groper had with the citrus definitely made me want to grope a few more pieces from the Hana Ju-Rin fridge.
Another description which caused a double take, I had no idea what pre-processed soy sauce would bring to the table. Was it just being fancy for the sake of it? Did Hana Ju-Rin run out of soy sauce? Did they need me to go on a quick grocery run?
It did not taste like soy sauce, it was sort of musky and peculiar but definitely enjoyable.
Sorry about the poor quality photo, I was definitely diverting all my energy towards creating stomach space to fit in more morsels at this point. The slice of trevally fish was a meatier cut than the pieces we had up to this point and something I’d want to meat up with again.
Again, my body was definitely diverting energy from the parts of my brain that usually ensure a good picture to my tastebuds and stomach. The alfonsino was surprisingly sweet.
I’d say more but that was literally the only note I made on the night: “Alfonsino is sweet. Suck it future Isaac.”
God, I hate myself.
Master Matsuya’s sheer artistry with citrus was one of the biggest takeouts from my dining experience at Hana Ju-Rin. This is demonstrated once again with this piece of prawn sushi featuring the zesty yuzu forming a heavenly forkful of sushi.
Yes, I used forkful because I’ve used the word bite approximately 67 times by now. Bite me.
Fatty tuna is one of my favourite things in the world along with basketball, watching Anna Kendrick movies and sharing elaborate handshake/high five combinations with my closest friends.
This piece of sushi was just so fatty and dissolved in my mouth like a piece of cotton candy. There’s just something about a slice of fish melting in your mouth that makes me melt.
Sensing my love for fatty tuna, Mr. Matsuya decided to double down and put another piece in front of me shortly afterwards. This piece was even fattier than the last. The sequencing reminded me of watching Batman Begins (a very underrated movie) then following it up immediately with the Dark Knight and exclaiming “wow, I can’t believe they made the sequel even better than the original.”
Yes, this is Batman sushi. I’m no Joker.
The scampi was creamy but with a nice smoky/charred flavour. This was easily one of the best pieces of Scampi I had ever had in my life.
Tomoyaki Matsuya kept exceeding his own benchmarks; it was like Usain Bolt had strapped rockets on to his sneakers and decided to just break every record under the sun.
At this point, my belly was heaving and the buttons were going to pop off my shirt whereas the kingfish belly was popping off the plate. It’s smoky nature also popped off in my mouth and at that point; I didn’t care about my shirt being ripped to shreds. I was ok with being topless in restaurant as long as I could keep eating sushi of this quality.
The final course of the night and Tomoyuki Matsuya was going to make sure that his diners were going to leave with a lasting impression.
His signature offering, the salmon was seared lovingly with his blowtorch and still incredibly tender. The bite was the most multifaceted course I had all night with the textures of the leek, salmon and rice just fusing together in a beautiful fashion.
I’m all for collecting autographs, but I rather collect signatures like this.
Here’s the TL;DR for everyone because I know you guys don’t have the attention span for a 1200 word essay on sushi:
- Easily one of the best meals I’ve had since I started writing about food, Matsuya’s craftsmanship is a sight and bite to behold.
- Make a booking now. Don’t hesitate, accelerate.
Hana Ju-Rin, Crow’s Nest
Shop 1, 300 Pacific Highway
Open 7 Days
Lunch: 12 – 2:30 pm
Dinner: 6-10:00 pm