Some of my fondest memories as a child revolved around Japanese food; I was nurtured by my Mum's self taught teriyaki recipes and looked forward to every "Sushi Night" at home. We also frequented a traditional Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant right in the heart of Perth CBD and I especially always loved watching the chefs toss their various utensils in the air during service - it was just like magic to me as a kid. As I grew older, I was fortunate enough to visit Japan consecutively over the years and experience an authentic insight into Japanese cuisine first hand. It is truly a wonderfully versatile, flavourful and theatrical form of cookery and can be enjoyed on all levels from the humble takeaway sushi, to the extravagant spectacle of a teppanyaki style degustation. Speaking of this particular style of dining, I was invited along to a blogger's dinner hosted Fuku Omakase and Teppanyaki Restaurant in Mosman Park to experience their illustrious teppanyaki menu entitled, "Better" ($135 pp).
SAKE AND BEVERAGES SELECTION
Exquisite service was showcased by the Fuku service team throughout our dining experience; waitstaff were readily on hand to offer their extensive knowledge, especially in regards to the restaurant's considerable range of Sake and attend to any of our requests for the night. They kindly redirected any questions we had about the food to Chef Choe and Head Chef Gary, who were both extremely entertaining and displayed their beautiful repertoire of dishes with pride, sophistication and finesse.
For Sake 101-ers like myself, the staff at Fuku advised that premium sake should be served chilled and not warmed, which is a serving technique used for far inferior grades of sake. We were introduced to a nifty Sake Chilling Device, which enables Fuku diners to experience their chosen sake in it's prime chilled state immediately. For Sake Enthusiasts, I would highly recommend enjoying Fuku's Sake Degustation ($75) which begins with a sparkling sake and finishes with a plum wine in conjunction with your meal.
By the time my third serving of Sake came, I waved my imaginary flag of surrender and the waiter immediately recommended a mocktail for my enjoyment instead. In addition to Sake, we were also served a continuous flow of Sparkling or Still Water, and Brown Rice Green Tea at the end of our teppanyaki experience.
1. KAWA EBI AND SUN DRIED CRISPY NORI SHEET
This is definitely one of those classed up "bar snack" type dishes. The Kawa Ebi was deep fried and served alongside shards of crispy nori sheets - it was an interesting starter and reminded me of seasoned fried fish skin that is often served along side Chinese style congee. I had the strong temptation to dip the morsels into a creamy something, a yuzu mayonnaise or an aioli would have been the most perfect accompaniment!
My guest for the night was Sandy Luc; a fellow foodie, close friend and author of Hungry Again? Whenever we eat out together, she has to sadly turn away all deep fried goodies due to a gallbladder operation she had sometime ago. The waitstaff and chefs at Fuku kindly adapted our degustation menu to suit her high fat content intolerance. This dish reminded us both fondly of sweet braised pork (Sui Yok) - I applaud Fuku for considerately offering an allergy friendly alternative at such short notice but I definitely preferred the flavours and texture of my Kawa Ebi starter.
2. SMALL MORSELS (OTSUMAMI)
The Japanese term Otsumami commonly refers to "small plates of food" that are served at the beginning of a meal, much like a series of tapas would be. Our otsumami consisted of a trio of bite-sized morsels, including a Tempura Oyster with Ginger Sauce, Red Emperor served with Octopus Salad and Smoked Wagyu Beef in a Spiced Sesame Dressing.
I was stationed on the left hand side of the private dining room, and in front of Chef Choe's teppanyaki grill for the night. There were definitely a lot of ooh's and ahh's when both chefs began cooking before our very eyes, it was a delight to watch and definitely makes the experience at Fuku very worthwhile.
I do believe that you can pretty much tempura anything, and it just so happens that tempura oysters are the way to go. As an oyster fan, I'm already halfway inclined to enjoy this component, but it was the accompaniment of the ginger sauce that brought it home for me. I love the crisp, savoury aspect of the Tempura Soba Noodles too and both elements overshadowed the other two aspects of the dish for me.
Previously, the Kawa Ebi trumped the Pork...but this time around, I was the one struck with food envy! The scampi was beautifully cooked and had a nice, well balanced citrus taste. As much as I'm a tempura anything fan, I would have happily enjoyed the scampi as well.
Our next course was also a trio of small bites, but this time in the much anticipated and highly appreciated form of fresh sashimi. Again, the staff informed us about the origins of each component and how best to enjoy this course. We were firstly advised to enjoy the Japanese Pickle wrapped Snapper - it was a great palette cleanser that set us up for the rest of the seafood on offer which included Exmouth Prawns, Fremantle Tuna and Tasmanian Salmon. Each slice of seafood was deliciously fresh and boasted a great texture - this was definitely some of the best sashimi I've ever had in Perth. I wished again, and again that a larger portion of the sashimi course would manifest in front of me, but there was definitely more goodness to come.
Whilst the entire table was tucking into the Sashimi course, the Chefs began preparing the Quail course on the teppenyaki hot plate. We were informed that Chef Gary had made each buckwheat pancake individually by hand earlier, and they would be the vessel that encased our perfectly cooked quail pieces. Like a few of the previous courses, the Quail evoked a familiar sense of nostalgia for me as it reminded me of one of my favourite Chinese dishes - Peking Duck.
The display of concentration and meticulous preparation skills continues to be an enjoyable dimension of our meal, with this dish especially I appreciated how many steps the chefs had taken to produce the final product before us. Unfortunately, this was my least favourite course - the buckwheat pancakes were doughy in texture and masked the flavour of the quail. However, I couldn't fault the Ginger and Beetroot pickle which was even enjoyed by Sandy, a non-beetroot eater.
Once again, I'd like to commend Fuku on accommodating for a variety of food allergies and intolerances - whilst the Quail course was being served, Chef Choe was preparing a Gluten Free option for the lovely Martine, author of chompchomp.com.au
5. SCALLOP, PRAWN & CRISPY PRAWN HEAD
It was all hands on deck when preparing the next course, which included heat, excitement and a lot of swash buckling teppanyaki turner action! The fifth course comprised of not only a perfectly cooked prawn tail, but a crispy fried prawn head that was prepared right atop the hot plate!
in accompaniment to the prawns, was a scallop that was grilled and finished with uni butter. Uni (ウニ) is the luxurious sea urchin roe that was incorporated into a rich butter that was used to finish off the grilled seafood.
Fresh uni is definitely an acquired taste and is quite like caviar in flavour - I'm not too fond of it by itself but it definitely worked as a seasoning component and gave this dish a glossy and flavourful finish. The scallop was a standout; buttery, tender and an ideal contrast to the delicious crunchy prawn head.
I hope to see the use of whole prawns a lot more in Perth restaurants. When I dined at Nobu Moscow in Russia , the entire prawn head was served deep fried in addition to the raw prawn meat that was served nigiri style. I'm actually a big fan of eating whole prawns - when prepared appropriately, they are thoroughly enjoyable as a large majority of true prawn flavour lies in the head.
5. FISH OF THE DAY
By now the Teppanyaki grill had been well seasoned and roaring from our previous courses and the colour on both the beans and Red Emperor was fantastic. For me, the fish was cooked more "well done", and whilst it wasn't exactly tough, I still prefer mine to be softer in the middle. Each fillet was blow torched with a yuzu miso sauce upon the plate, which gave the fish a lovely tangy, caramelised miso flavour.
I was ecstatic to see lotus root on the plate - it's one of my most favourite vegetables and yet it is so difficult to find fresh varieties around Perth. I spent nearly a whole month in Hong Kong recipe testing for Lotus Root chips; I think they're a great alternative to potatoes and have the capacity to soak up a lot of great flavours. They're commonly an unseen ingredient in traditional Chinese broths, but I definitely think that they have the magnitude to be so much more. Personally, I thought the vegetable components of this course stole the show, as the fish became an afterthought to the delicious yuzu miso sauce.
DINNER AND A SHOW
The illustrious final course was something that we were all looking forward to and it was when the knives, and tricks truly came out! Chef Gary was an entertaining character throughout the meal and although I wasn't being served by him personally, I was well positioned to watch his various balancing and flipping techniques at good length! I think the one of the most impressive moments was when he began spinning his utensils around his index finger. And more so when he began tossing and catching a raw egg into the air - all whilst during service! It was very entertaining, and definitely an experience that is unique to the talented chefs at Fuku.
7. WAGYU SIRLOIN STEAK AND FRIED RICE WITH WAGYU FLAVOURS
I'm a wagyu fanatic; it's one of those things that excites me on a menu because of it's full flavoured potential to be absolutely amazing. True enough, Chef Choe respected this gorgeous and prized produce immensely and advised us before he began cooking that his recommendation was to take the Wagyu medium, as the longer cooking process allows the fat marbling from the meat to caramelise fully.
Mayura Station is a boutique brand of Wagyu cattle that originates from the Limestone Coast in South Australia. The family-owned cattle station began breeding full-blooded Wagyu from Japan in 1998 on their 6000+ acre property. The stock are grain fed and originate from a herd of distinguished beef pedigree. Having previously been a primarily David Blackmore Wagyu eater in the past, I was very interested in trying something different!
It was a pleasure to watch Chef Choe prepare the Wagyu; the cooking process was both theatrical and meticulous, with everything from the seasoning to the flaming being an exciting display!
I loved the addition of crispy garlic to the Wagyu. I'm not really a chunky garlic fan and I much prefer it finely diced because it can sometimes be too overpowering if not cooked down. However, each caramelised slice was an amazing textual element to the beautifully cooked beef, and wonderfully matched with the sweet and spicy miso sauce. It was a very well executed component and my favourite aspect of the courses thus far. The tender onion was also a great accompaniment; I love grilled onions and these happen to taste extra flavourful as they had managed to pick up a lot of the aroma from the teppanyaki grill through the night long cooking process.
Honestly, the Wagyu flavoured Fried Rice is the dish that I spent the next few days reminiscing from my entire experience at Fuku. Chef Choe once again displayed his beautifully cookery techniques and it was a true joy to watch.
Truth be told, Fuku could also double as a Butter Factory - it was used extensively to finish dishes and a lot of butter was added into the centre of the fried rice as it was cooking - which may be potentially disastrous for the likes of Sandy and the health conscious alike. But I'm a fan; it gave each dish a beautiful sheen and flavour that only our dear friend Butter could have.
The mound of rich, Wagyu flavoured, eggy goodness was laid to rest on the right side of the hot plate whilst the Wagyu Steak component was being prepared. The spring onions that garnished the Mt. Fried Rice gave it a gorgeous pop of fresh colour; tell me that that isn't the most beautiful Fried Rice that you ever saw?
Honestly, despite how well the meal had been going thus far - it was the Wagyu course that made this a very worthwhile experience. It's the unique, delicious and exciting aspect that I'm most likely to rave about for months to come; this is what that I would highly recommend a visit to Fuku for.
8. YUZU CHEESECAKE, CHOCOLATE DRINK AND MOUNTAIN PEACH
After the unforgettable Wagyu course, the grill was wiped down and Chef Choe began to warm a small pot of bubbling dark chocolate - it was time for dessert! By this time, I was definitely filling up and was looking forward to something light and fresh for the last course.
Yuzu was another flavour that was used extensively throughout our banquet. The taste of yuzu is most likely to resemble citrus, but remains to be quite unique. The refreshing sourness formed the base of the cheesecake, and the dollop of cream on the side was an essential component that mellowed out the sharp sourness of the yuzu.
Texturally, I really liked the cheesecake despite not being a really big fan of Yuzu which can be quite unpleasant if the citrus flavour is not well balanced. The addition of the bitter chocolate drink and the slightly sweet Mountain Peach was interesting, but each component tasted very separate instead of complimenting the other as a cohesive dish. After the dessert plates were cleared, we were served with steaming cups of Matcha Brown Rice Green Tea which was a very pleasant way to end the extensive eight course degustation.
Overall, I really think Fuku put a lot of thought and a lot of well honed technique into each of their courses. Whilst I didn't enjoy everything on the menu, it was attributed to my palette preferences rather than to improper food preparations, bad service or poor quality. On the contrary, I do believe that Fuku offer their customers a premium selection of fresh, sustainable and delicious produce that has evidently been carefully sourced and thoughtfully prepared. The staff have an outstanding breadth of knowledge and were very accommodating I would especially like to extend my warmest of gratitudes to Head Chef Gary and my table's chef, Choe. It was a very smoothly run dinner, and a worthwhile experience that I would like to enjoy again. It was lovely to rub shoulders with fellow Perth bloggers as well, and it was a great feeling to comfortably get our cameras out and capture so many amazing moments throughout the night. I would recommend Fuku as a great place to celebrate special occasions, especially with teppanyaki being such an enjoyable dining style for big groups. After this great experience, I would definitely love to try their Walk-In menu where customers can dine "Mamasita" style and choose a selection of dishes for $75 per person - until then, I'll be all Wagyu and Butter dreams.
Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday for Dinner. Please be advised that they only take bookings online at www.the-fuku.com and require a $50 deposit. Due to the small size of the restaurant, they only take reservations for 1, 2 or 4 people unless the entire venue is booked.