Friday, August 24, 2012

A birthday bonanza pt. 2 at Kumo Izakaya

In addition to attending a sumptuous Sunday Lunch at Union Dining I was spoilt by another well-heeled restaurant choice for a birthday soiree - this time Kumo Izakaya in East Brunswick for Dinsaurs birthday.

Kumo Izakaya 
152 Lygon Street
East Brunswick
Open: Mon-Fri dinner, Sat - Sun lunch 12 -3 + dinner from 5pm
Phone: (03) 9388 1505

BYO: No, but they did recently win the Gourmet Travellers 3 Glass Australian Wine List Of The Year Award, and you can choose to match sake with the omakase chef's menu for an extra $50

Kumo Izakaya & Sake Bar on Urbanspoon

After missing out on a Nippon-love-fest earlier in the year involving a dinner at Kumo followed by watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi (it is a must see!), I was pretty antsy to go and check Kumo out myself. So you can imagine my elation when Weazelby informed me that Dinsaur would be celebrating his birthday there. Curiously we had to pre-order our dishes a couple of days prior the dinner, so I assumed it was due to the size of our group. You can opt to have a set banquet however it was a little too $$ for this particular occasion. We were recommended to choose 2-3 dishes, which I thought could be a risk (inner glutton on overdrive here) depending on what your choices are, as izakaya style servings are typically slight.

It's hard to miss this sleek addition to the East Brunswick food scene, an impressive architectural conversion from a 1950's bank through a collaboration between the owners, Andre & Jo Bishop, architect Victor Isobe and award wining builder Bryce Ritchie. An incredibly challenging feat was the two day task of cutting through the old bank vault to make way for the sake store. I particularly liked the diversity in dining arrangements including booths, tables, a private tatami room and a long communal bar. If you want to schwang your ca$h definitely book the private tatami room, for added high roller vibes.

Plucked from the kumo izakaya website

Architectural glory aside, Kumo's modern take on izakaya style food is equally worth crowing about with menu items spanning from classics karaage, gyoza, tuna tataki to more inventive offerings like the braised Kurobuta pork pie, crispy baby taro and chesnut savoury egg custard.    

Having pre-ordered for such a big group it was quite confusing when the dishes were all brought out, however Dinsaur's expertly organised girlfriend ER had it completely under control.

First up - the tuna yukke with onsen-poached quail egg in crispy cup $16.80

BLOODY BRILLIANT ! This was off the hook. The fresh tuna was bathed in a sweet and savoury sesame sauce, with a slightly translucent wobbly quail egg balancing on top. The crispy shell was a little redundant although it did work well as an edible spoon.Two thumbs up.

It was probably the first time in our dining history that I hadn't had the opportunity to manipulate Weazelby's ordering "oohh wouldn't it be great if you tried *insert what I want here*" so I was quite excited/worried to see what he had ordered.

A more visually impressive offering, although a little strange flavourwise were the seared scallops with butter & soy topped with bonito flakes $12.80

The plump scallops were sitting atop a mayonnaise slathered crunchy apple and mustard salad. We couldn't quite put our finger on the lingering flavour for a while until we realised it reminded us of bananas. Yep banana, pretty odd. The texture of these were great but I wasn't completely sold on the whole package.

Next - Chesnut savoury egg custard with shiso butter and soy $10.80

After indulging in a fantastic savoury fish custard at Cookie earlier in the month I was quite excited about this dish. This was one rich buttery delight ! So smooth and silky, although I have to say the butteryness was pretty damn intense and the chesnut flavour was a little subdued.

Weazelby had opted for the vegetable fry with sesame mushroom & balsamic nori sauce $12.80

This was listed in the 'deep fry' section so I was expecting it to look a lot more overtly greased up than it was. The vegetables were still quite firm, and were a nice addition to have with other dishes although not mindblowing on their own.

Assuming I would have had a healthy intake of beer by this stage, I had pre-ordered the karaage knowing my penchant for deep fried anything post booze.

Fruity Plum wine karaage chicken $12.80 

Who knew that deep fried chicken could be this good?? Even deep-fry phobic Weazelby was completely enamoured. I can't say I noticed the plum wine flavour (drunk), but this was absolutely cooked to perfection. I assumed it would have some sauce to add a bit of extra jazz to it but it didn't need a thing. And at $12.80 this was one of the cheaper larger options on the menu, so it wins for that reason too.

The roasted duck fillet with slow cooked daikon, hacho miso sauce and lotus root chips $19.80 was another winner. I love lotus root even before I have tasted it purely for its fantastic silhouette, but this crispy version added an extra dimension of appreciation. The braised daikon was surprisingly flavoursome and has inspired me to cook daikon at home instead of solely using it in salads. And the duck.. do I even need to say anything? Look at it.

 Roasted duck fillet with slow cooked daikon, hacho miso sauce and lotus root chips

Another dish that I loved was TH's crunchy potato salad $11.80 (good choice hoedown)

You may pick up on a trend here.. but the deep-fried shredded topping was amazing. It certainly wasn't what I was imagining with such an unassuming description. This was surprisingly fresh, with chunks of carrot intertwined with creamy potato and greens.

I was pretty impressed with Kumo, and would like to return and try more off the menu. It is quite an expensive restaurant, and I think some small dishes could be a little over the top in pricing (i.e. edamame $7.80.. come on) however I think for the quality, and general experience it is most certainly worth it. The service is spot-on too with the staff very knowledgeable and helpful. 

The opportunity to have a sake matched omakase is also another experience to add to my everygrowing 'wish list'. Given that Kumo has quite an esteemed bar component I would highly recommend just dropping in for a drink and a snack (psssst get the karaage!) - which is the essence of izakaya style dining.


  1. Hehehe is that a fingerbomb I see?

    Mhmmm the sake matched omakase definitely sounds tempting.

    1. Haha yes I am always grappling with finger/fist/arm/anything to annoy me - bombs! I can't wait to go back and try the omakase, need to make up a special occasion first :P

  2. Bring on the crunchy potato salad - that looks amazing. This place is going straight on my wish list.

  3. Great blog! Do update more often.

    1. thanks :) I'm hauling my lazy hands back to the keyboard and will hopefully tap out a few posts over the next week.