It’s my mum’s birthday and deciding where to take her to eat is always a challenge as my grandma (who is 91 – bless her!) is quite fussy with her food with her diet mainly consists of fish and vegetables. I’ve been to Blancharu a few times before and think it’s quite good value for money being $85 for 7 course degustation, entrees under $20 and mains under $40. Blancharu is a Japanese French bistro tucked away in the corner of Elizabeth Bay road under Sebel Townhouse, headed up by ex-Galileo chef Harunobu Inukai. Chef Harunobu has worked under many impressive chefs such as Joel Robuchon in Tokyo for 3 years and Tony Bilson at Bilson’s for 3 years where he earned two chef hats. Now at Blancharu, he has earned one chef hats for his casual approach to fine dining.
Blancharu has a Saturday dine early special where if you book at 6pm and out by 7:45pm, you receive 20% off the food menu. This was perfect as Mum was being a social butterfly and had part 2 of her birthday celebrations to go to. Choosing what to order was hard. We were presented with 2 types of degustation, 1 with truffles as the feature and the other was their normal degustation menu, as well as their a la carte menu. We wanted to go with the degustation and checked with the waiter to see if we would be able to vacate the table in time for the special, he assured us it was plenty of time. Unsure if my grandma would eat all dishes truffle, we decided to go with their normal degustation as it contained 1 truffle dish anyways.
First cab off the rank is the kingfish carpaccio with karasumi which is dried mullet roe. I’ve seen the dried mullet roe in the fish markets of Japan and have often wondered how it is eaten. With this dish, it is sliced thinly on top of the kingfish and with every bite there is a burst of salty flavour. The ginger dressing accompanying the kingfish reminded me of the soy ginger dressing which comes with steamed fish in chinese restaurants.
I have never tried deep-fried abalone before as the Chinese would think it’s a waste deep-frying something which is considered a delicacy and you wouldn’t be able to taste the sweet oceany flavour of the abalone. I mean it would be the same thing as saying you would deep fry foie gras! The baby abalone comes served battered in a panko crumb, on top of a traditional Japanese seaweed salad mixed with Caesar salad. I thought the abalone would be tough and chewy but it was amazingly soft and melts in your mouth. The smear of sauce is actually the liver of abalone, pureed into a sauce. Normally I would discard the liver as I don’t like the powdery texture of liver but the Japanese treats that as the prized part of the abalone. Being pureed, it lost the powdery texture and it was surprisingly tasty and it had hints of gherkin in it which replicated tartare sauce for me.
Crab soup with fennel flan was next and upon reading the menu I was expecting flan being a pastry element to the dish. To my surprise when the soup was served, there was no pastry! I thought maybe it was hidden underneath the soup but no it was an egg like custard. I later found out that flan can be used interchangeably with custard or pudding. The dish was a French take on the Japanese chawanmushi, a Japanese egg custard dish with dashi and mirin, mushrooms and shrimp. Pieces of crab strips was in the broth with a layer of egg custard mixed with fennel puree sitting underneath. You needed to dig into the soup and grab a piece of the flan to accompany the soup.
Before the dish was presented at the table, the aroma of earthy truffle wafted into the room. A pan-fried egg was served in a cast iron pan with generous slices of truffle shaved on top, madeira sauce and sprinklings of shaved parmesan. The dish was simple yet decadent and I used my bread to mop up the left over egg yolk in my pan.
Tonight’s Poisson du jour was salmon, pan-fried served on cream chinese cabbage (wombok). This dish didn’t wow me and was my lest favourite dish of the night. I thought it was an overly simple dish which anyone could cook at home.
Our final main course of the night was a bit of a spectacle. The small parcel with burnt edges and smoke coming out was placed in front of us and we were told to wait until it stopped burning to open it.
The parcel is actually cedar wood and the duck is pan seared and placed in the cedar wood on the grill to finish the cooking process. Result? Lightly smoked and tender duck.
Dessert to finish our dinner was almond pannacotta with kiwifruit coulis. I’m not a big almond fan, especially when it is grounded up. For me it resembles like medicine and glue like. Still I tried a bit of it and used the lemon sorbet to mask the flavour of the almond pannacotta.
We finished the dinner slightly over time but we were still given the 20% discount which I thought was really nice of them. By the time we had left, the restaurant was full with waiters rushing around to set the table for the next round of hungry diners. If you can’t make it here on a weekend, they also have a weekday special where you receive 20% off their degustation menu Monday – Thursdays dinner OR Friday and Saturday lunch where you can receive 20% off their degustation menu too. Please mention the special at time of booking.
I forgot to add…did my grandma approve the dinner? Yes she was very pleased!
Shop 1, 21 Elizabeth Bay Road,
Elizabeth Bay NSW 2011
mon – fri , sat for dinner from 6:00pm – 10:00pm
fri , sat for lunch from 12:00pm – 14:30pm