Saturday, November 8, 2008

Japaz - Neutral Bay, Sydney

It is always exciting to try out a new restaurant especially after reading about the food and ogling at the photos. NQN's review on Japaz had me wanting to try out this place for a while now and I am grateful for the review of this wonderful little gem. The food here packs a wonderful fusion of Japanese, French and Spanish influences by the notorious chef Hiro Takagi.

I like the simple but effective plates for each dish

The faux sandstone wallpaper which I think is a little bit tacky but, I probably wouldn't had noticed it unless NQN mentioned because I would be staring at the kitchen and the food hee hee

The Spanish Tapas style of the dining meant ordering a few dishes and sharing it with your fellow diners which makes it more interactive and fun. The atmosphere here is also quite intimate with the big round warm lighting and mirrors lining one of the walls.

We perused the unique selection on the menu and shortly after Here Comes the Food.

Sourdough Bread ($4)
I just love sourdough and the one served here was absolutely perfect. The thick, soft slices of sourdough dabbed with a bit of extra virgin olive oil was the perfect way to start off the evening. The sourdough was not very sour like some others I have had, so I found there was actually a sweetness to the bread.

Jamon Iberico ($40)
This was a bit of a splurge but it was worth trying this dish. The meat of a black Iberian pig has been hung up to dry for many months (I recall the waiting saying 88 months but that seems way too long :S) to bring out extra flavour and then cured which also takes many more months. The black pig is a prized pig everywhere it seems and this cured ham has a beautiful array of flavours within each bite. To be honest I have not had that much cured meats and none of this top quality so I am still learning about these. I found there was an initial saltiness, followed by a slight sweetness and then a peppery aftertaste. The thin cuts had a soft and luscious texture while the melty fat part of the meat added a new dimension of flavour.

Baked Eggplant with Pine Nuts & Cured Mullet Roe Crust ($10)
I am not a big fan of roe but the eggplant and pine nuts was a brilliant combination of texture, soft and slightly mushy with small bits that resist the teeth. The roe flavour was actually quite subtle so that was better for me.

Twenty-Second Smoked Swordfish Perserved Lemon Sauce ($14)
I love swordfish as it has a soft melty texture and oozes natural oils when it is done correctly. The twenty seconds of searing on this piece of fish has left it wonderfully soft and the lemon citrus sauce added a nice sourness that melds into a sweetness. I like the touch of tarragon on top but I thought the tomato was a bit out of place. The tomato is good by itself but combined with the fish was a bit experimental for me.

Pan-Fried Pork Belly with Pear, Herbal Balsamic Sauce ($16)
I am definitely a carnivore so when this pork belly came out my tastebuds went yay! The aroma from this dish just captivates you and sets you up for the thick juicy piece of meat. The tender lean meat mixed with a layer of melty fat and a fine layer of crackling is a meal within itself. The pear has a tarness which made me think they were green apples at first but they mixed beautifully with the balsamic sauce and the pork belly.

Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek & Almond Sauce ($16)
This dish really reminded me of Japan, well the beef cheek part. The meat is so tender that it simpy just falls apart when you try to pick it up and each bite causes it to melt slowly, distributing the flavour throughout in the mouth evenly. The almond sauce was interesting as it added a slight sandy and crunchy texture. The almond sauce was not overpowering so the sweet beef cheek was still the main player in this dish.

Manchego Cheese & Rum Ice Cream ($9)
This fusion was interesting and weird but I would not be ordering it again. The rum ice cream with the crunchy honey roasted nuts was great and the manchego cheese was good but together the combination was too weird.

Crema Catalana JAPAZ ($9)
Sago pudding and palm sugar with a layer of caramelized sugar on top. Nice crunchy layer on top of gooey sago underneath with a pleasant sweetness all throughout the dessert.

This was a worthy experience even though the portions are small and the prices a bit above average. I found that Chef Takagi likes to season with sea salt on top so it can be a little bit unevenly distributed throughout the dish. I also thought that the highlights were the meat dishes (jamon iberico, pork belly and beef cheek) and the sourdough but that could be because I love bread and meat haha. A very good dining experience and worthy of more visits :D

165 Wycombe Rd
Neutral Bay 2089
Ph: (02) 9904 0688
Dinner: Monday – Saturday, 6:00pm till late
Lunch: Thursday – Saturday, 12:00 noon to 3:00pm



D said...

Jamon Iberico looks so tasty ... as if not wait for me mangs! exams almost over ... almost .. *cry* Wow, you had room for dessert too? Splurgeeeee!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your comment about seasoning on top making it uneven. We found that really the case on some of the "piled high" dishes where there was just salt on the top but nowhere else.

Glad you enjoyed your meal, it's a great place (and so closeby woohoo!).

Anonymous said...

D - Rarrr finish already mangz. The portions are small and we didn't order that much. I should've tried the beef tongue as well haha.

NQN - Yeahh so saltier on top and blander near the bottom :S but still a good place OH I forgot to mention I saw the owner of JuGeMu/Shimbashi near closing time as he is close friends with Hiro.

Miss Honey said...

Oo as usual I'm procrastinating via food porn. Would love to try this place - unwittingly got hooked on Jamon Iberico while in Barcelona but haven't had it since I've been back in Sydney...

Yes, I'll use that as a justification to drag some people over the bridge lol

Anonymous said...

Miss Honey - Hee hee that's the spirit :) Jamon Iberico is very nice but soo priceyy too. Worth the splurge once in a while tho ^^!