Monday, 8 December 2014

Sepia, Sydney CBD

Restaurant of the Year they say.
Sepia's 'Spring Chocolate Forest'

How can I not try? Finally, I can tick off one huge box on my bucketlist. Dining at Sepia, Sydney's Restaurant of the Year 2014. Hoorah.

Sepia, Sydney CBD

There's a lot of expectation when it comes to Sepia. After all, it holds prestigious titles and wins awards, and with chef Martin Benn on the helm, nothing else is accepted but excellence.

The place has deluxe and elegant interior, dominated with dark and neutral colours. It is not a place to wear your summer singlet and thongs, but really, I'm more than happy to doll up for a beautiful place like this.


Sepia is equipped with expert sommeliers and extended variety of wine, but with such warm day, sips of reviving tea were enjoyed instead. My iced koyuki tea had lovely fragrance with subtle hint of citrus.

I was joined by some pretty and hilarious ladies for their degustation option, $190 pp. Seven savoury courses, two desserts.

The teas: (R) iced koyuki tea (high altitude with yuzu, lemon balm, elderflower and white rose)

Our amuse bouche was a bite-sized seared bonito with interesting crunchy surface, creamy chicken cream and smoky sobacha.  It might be tiny but it left giant impression on our taste buds.

Seared bonito, roasted chicken cream, sobacha

Sepia's dishes were incredibly scenic and there were so many ingredients listed, I had to Google some to know what they actually were. Despite the complexity and the crowded description, every single ingredient seemed to belong to each dish they were served in.

A stunning pink ring of sashimi yellow fin tuna encasing goat milk chevre was demolished in no time, thanks to its slightly tangy and smooth characteristic and the thrilling texture play with the pork crackling.

Sashimi yellow fin tuna, goat milk chevre, avocado, pink beauty radish, pork crackling

Hokkaido sea scallop appeared very delicate with the crumbed feta that resembled snow. Beneath a soft layer of spiced tomato jelly/kombu were the fresh and soft scallops hidden.

Hokkaido sea scallop, spiced tomato, horseradish, kombu, aged feta, olive oil

A log of perfectly seared smoked Saikou salmon arrived next and we couldn't be happier. I tried to act classy and elegant by cutting the magnificent smoky salmon but all I wanted to do was to get another five serving of this and stuff them all in my mouth. Especially with the complimenting garlic cream and umami seaweed powder.

Seared smoked Saikou salmon, garlic cream, baby onion, seaweed powder, momiji leaf

Trying to find the Western Australian scampi in the midst of paper-thin sheep yoghurt mushroom was so much fun on its own, and the woody aroma from the raw mushroom passionately hugged my olfactory sense.

Western Austalian scampi scented with Japanese curry, apple, sheep yoghurt mushroom

The scampi was exceptionally juicy and the flesh was sweet; it was obviously cooked to perfection. The Japanese curry made its contribution with its faint yet exciting strokes.

Revealing the scampi

Prior to our main dishes, buttermilk bread and butter were served. The bun was so good I had to do take two. And the pearl-like butter was so perfectly-shaped it was unreal.

Buttermilk bread and butter

Apart from the wasabi butter that was a little bit too overwhelming for me and unusual (for me) sea vegetables, the ribbons of seared David Blackmore wagyu was as good as it could be. Melt-in-your-mouth texture with some fatty traces that only made the whole dish even more exhilarating.

Grilled David Blackmore wagyu, salt pickled cucumber, native sea vegetables, chestnut mushroom, wasabi leaf butter

Feli doesn't eat beef and so she had the Western Australian marron that she gave thumbs up for. The puffed rice crackers were brilliant idea.

Western Australia marron smoked over charcoal, sudachi and shellfish butter, candied lemon aspen, sea vegetables, shell powder

Seared Mandagery Creek venison was our last savoury dish and it closed the session with a bang. I was expecting it to be gamey but it was pleasant on my palate and jaw. It was tender, juicy, and perfectly seasoned. The artichoke leaves were almost mistaken as sweet potato, and everyone scraped the pumpkin puree clean from their plates.

Seared Mandagery Creek venison, sansho pepper, roasted pumpkin, miso, artichoke

Here comes one of the best desserts I've tried: the Citrus. A crackable sphere of white chocolate enclosing oozy blood orange gel sitting on a small pile of many other shades and textures of citrus.

'Citrus' - mandarin, blood orange, yuzu, dai dai, sudachi, thyme flower

It was a pre-dessert and it was one hell of a palate cleanser. It was acidic for sure, but not so much to make you grimace. The white chocolate balanced the piquant parts, and each of us just kept licking our spoons even when there was nothing left on the plate.

Cracked 'Citrus'

The Spring Chocolate Forest was the pièce de résistance for me, and the presentation was so appealing with all facets of the 'forest'.

It looked rather real: the twigs, leaves, pebbles, dirt, flowers. It was a powerful and intense dessert with so many hidden elements and bits and pieces beneath the refreshing and tangy raspberry sorbet. The dominating flavour was clearly the chocolate, although others, such as licorice, blackberry, and the nuts, were also quite recognizable.

The contrasting textures between the smooth sorbet and the cream and the crunchy chocolate 'soil' and twigs just emphasized Sepia's attention to details. 

It did get too overwhelming for me though, and I struggled to get to the finish line.

'Spring Chocolate Forest' - soft chocolate, hazelnut, almond, lavender & honey cream, blackberry sorbet, shiso vinegar jelly, green tea, licorice, chocolate twigs, bronze fennel

We weren't gonna leave Sepia with another one of their signature dessert: the Japanese stones. Note that this isn't included in the degustation menu.

Japanese stones - $40 (additional dessert)

Another dish that had striking resemblance to the real thing. I would've taken these as real stones if I had not known better.

Not real stones, you guys

There was no way of knowing which stone was filled with either raspberry, passionfruit, or chocolate, so we had to rely on pure luck. Each of us somehow managed to try all three flavours, and it was an unanimous agreement that the zesty passionfruit was the best one.

Raspberry Japanese stone

Overall, it was such an marvelous dining experience, especially given that I've been always a bit skeptical about fine dining. Sepia definitely doesn't skimp on anything food wise, and I can barely fault anything I consumed that day.


With such attention to details, outstanding skills from the kitchen, and food that look more like artworks, nobody should question Sepia's titles.


Currency: $1 = IDR 10,800

Rating: 4/5 (Recommended)
Amazing dishes with minimal misses for me, price is high-end (it's a fine dining what do you expect?), service is great, ambiance is really nice and comfortable.



201 Sussex St
Sydney, NSW 2000

Phone: (02) 9283 1990

Web: Sepia

Sepia on Urbanspoon

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  1. Sweet post, Sherlock. I remember the wagyu melting in my own mouth back in the day.

    Can't wait to go back!

    1. That wagyu is almost like butter. Although I like wagyu AND butter too.

  2. Glad to see you liked it as much as I did. Definitely one of Sydney's icon restaurants, and not just in name!

    1. Couldn't agree more! Great degustation, and everything is awesomeeee~

  3. I can taste the salmon, the citrus and stones by looking at your pics! Oh and that soft soft bun.. mmm

    1. That soft bun is outta the world. And did you get at least a piece of that wagyu to try, Feli?

  4. that chocolate forest dessert is all kinds of amazing!

  5. Still on my 'go-to' list - looks amazing!

    1. Definitely worth the try! It tastes more amazing than it looks! :)

  6. The scampi dish looks beautiful - almost floral!

  7. Looks fabulous (obvs)! I WANT the Japanese stones!


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