[invite] Bianca: New to the STAR restaurant portfolio is Chuuka. The brainchild of Chase Kojima (Sokyo, Gojima) and Victor Liong (Melbourne’s Lee Ho Fook).
With Flying Fish departing to The Star casino, the space on Jones Bay Wharf became prime waterside real estate. A spot that wasn’t to be empty long.
The food? In a nutshell, a Japanese interpretation of Chinese cuisine. Marrying two powerhouse cuisines.
Local tattoo artist Deepak Munsami has created striking murals within the restaurant, representing the fusion of the Chinese and Japanese elements.
Starting with the Wood $19 – a bold, heady cocktail, likely to put hairs on your chest.
Metal $17 was a little softer, sweeter with the honeydew and coconut vodka.
I shocked myself by ordering the Pacific Oyster -w/bonito soy yuzu & spring onion oil $5each. Not exactly my favourite thing to eat but I will say, these were probably the freshest, tastiest oysters I have eaten. There was none of that lingering fishiness, the crisp freshness of the yuzu really took this to another level.
Salmon -w/ roasted macadamia, heirloom tomato & ume plum dressing $19. A textural delight, velvety, paper-thin salmon. Paired with the unexpected sweet tomato, crispy fried bread and tied together by a creamy dressing.
Pretty as a picture. Hiramasa Kingfish -w/ white fungi, radish, burnt garlic, spring onion & white soy cream $24. The creaminess of the white soy was the first thing that hit the tongue. Where the salmon was bold and in your face, the Kingfish was muted and acted as the perfect delicate vessel for all the other flavours to shine.
Kicking things up several notches with Chase’s Tempura Yuzu Chicken -w/ dried chilli & sweet and sour yuzu sauce $24. Definitely one of the stand-out dishes, crispy, juicy chicken thigh encased within a light tempura batter with a refreshing citrus note from the yuzu.
Proper adulting with the Stir-fried new season Chinese Greens -w/ vegan oyster sauce & crispy gai-lan $18. A mixture of greens in a light soy sauce but this is about the point I wished the rice would make an appearance.
I’ll forever have Nobu’s Miso Cod as the pinnacle. But the Sweet Miso glazed 51 Toothfish-w/sweet & sour capsicum $59 was an example of pure bliss. The delicate white fish, flaking away effortlessly. The marinade a perfect interplay of sweet, salty and sour.
I was very intrigued by the CHUUKA Ebi Chilli -stir-fried prawns, chilli miso butter and served with Japanese milk buns $42. Five plump prawns within a rich buttery chilli sauce, I’d typically shy away from prawns heads but making full use of the crustacean, they’re battered and deep-fried. And those fluffy baby milk buns – you have two options, get dip happy, or create a wee little prawn slider.
Fire – Hong Kong Baiju, mango & chilli oleo & dom benedictine $21. I found the lingering after-taste of the benedictine a little medicinal so I can’t say this was a favourite.
It was at this point (at the end of our meal) that the rice made an appearance. So to, did the Sichuan Eggplant -w/puffed chickpeas, crispy garlic, fried wonton skins, white miso & sesame dressing $28. The next two dishes had a touch of whimsy, the human element just adding that bit of fun. I’d never really come across anything quite like this dish before. Dare I say it, it sort of reminded me of a tortilla bowl. After you mix everything together you’re left with the creamy fiery eggplant and the crispy chickpeas & wonton skins.
My Macchiato $5 was well balanced, with a good ratio of crema to coffee.
Now, here is where things really got fun! Chuuka Frozen Yoghurt $38 (for 2 or more). Generally, unless there’s chocolate involved is it even dessert? Yoghurt Sorbet & Mascarpone Ice-cream served with frozen French Meringue.
But the fun begins when you get topping happy because we all know the joy of picking your frozen yoghurt and going mad with the toppings (only to be hit with a $25 bill at the register). Creamy, crispy, soft, crumbly you name it, it’s here.
Our art piece finished with Yuzu & ginger jam, Freeze-dried raspberry, beetroot and pink peppercorn, Roasted Hazelnuts, Coffee jelly, Matcha milk crumb and Bitter Chocolate cocoa nibs.
There’s a lot to like about Chuuka, the food, the view. Special occasion or #treatyourself. Go, you won’t be disappointed.
*For Food’s Sake dined as guests of Chuuka.