Seeing S’age Bistronomy is a bit surprising. It’s on a highway corner with not much around it – just a burger shop, a few cheap Indian restaurants and some old-school Japanese joints. While many Sydney chefs are going back to basic techniques such as charcoal-grilling, wood-fired roasting and preserving, this Crows Nest restaurant is championing the fine-dining techniques of haute cuisine.
“My food is based on the French style, but I want to introduce my own style and my own creations,” says head chef Tomoyuki Usui. His style is to keep the plate bare, and use just a few ingredients and flavours in each dish. A plate arrives with a small piece of mulloway, a squeeze of black sauce and a seasonal salad. The mulloway has been glazed in mirin, flash roasted six times and finished in a pan. The sauce underneath is a yuzu beurre blanc (butter sauce); the salad is dusted in green-pea powder; and the black sauce is a fermented emulsion that contains, among many other things, kombu, butter, fish sauce and dried squid. “As a concept and a process there are lots of things going on but I don't want to show it on the plate,” says Usui.
Other ideas translate visually. A crimson piece of roasted venison inspires a palette of red smears and sauces. “Venison has a red colour, so I basically tried to use all the ingredients with red. I've got rhubarb, beetroot puree, pomegranate, red wine jus and red shiso,” Usui says.
Soon a lot of his ideas will be based on native ingredients. “I want to see how they work,” says Usui. On the menu now is a smoked oyster and kangaroo tartare with plum powder served in an oyster shell.
The drinks list – typically wine-dominated but with a few classic cocktails and a small selection of sake – is also local-focused. The dark, muted fit-out is still reminiscent of Waqu, the Japanese-fusion restaurant that previously occupied the space. Usui worked there before it closed to move to Baranagaroo. “You can feel the Japanese influence but we toned down the colour,” says owner Arthur Song.
308 Pacific Highway, Crows Nest
(02) 9906 7736
Tue to Sun 12pm–3pm, 6pm–10.30pm