Sepia is a Japanese and Modern Australian three hat restaurant that I have been wanting to try for a long time, so when we heard earlier last year that it was due to close at the end of this year, we found an excuse to make a reservation straight away. Mind you, the excuse was my parent’s 25 year wedding anniversary so the place certainly lived up to the occasion! Sepia offers a 5 course menu but its 9 course value was better value but at $220 per person, it certainly does not come cheap!
The interior of the restaurant is beautiful, with dimly lit, romantic entrance and a grand decor. We were walked to our table, where the waiter explained the menu for the night and a sommelier explained the wine list and after we ordered a bottle of chardonnay (which goes beautifully with seafood) our degustation experience began!
We were treated to three separate amuse bouch to begin with. The Saikou salmon with smoked roe, sudachi and chrysanthemum, the Tempura oba leaf with smoked ama ebi and shell powerder and the bonito with dashi cream, tatami washi and dashi jelly. They were beautifully presented, especially the Tempura leaf because is your amuse bouche even an amuse bouche if its not served on a leaf?
The first course was the Tuna with egg yolk fromage blanc, tosa soy sauce and wasabi. The tuna melted in your mouth and the strong flavour of the soy sauce contrasted nicely with the wasabi.
The second course was the spanner crab with heirloom tomato, brown butter emulsion, sake vinegar jelly, pea and horseradish. The brown butter emulsion was sprinkled onto this dish by our waiter, and smoke caused added some theatrics to the dining experience!
The third course was the charcoal grilled black lip abalone, fermented anchovy cream, sweet bamboo, samphire, buckwheat and nori. I love abalone and this dish did not disappoint, it was cooked to perfection, beautifully tender with the unique flavour of abalone.
We were served the bread between the third and the fourth course. The bread was probably the least memorable part of the meal. It kind of looked like the bread you get served on a plane, just simple and round. Despite the plain look, it was still soft and delicious when paired with the creamy butter. Nevertheless, I have had much better bread at other fine dining restaurants.
The fourth course was a piece of nigri, the imperador with barletta onions, yuzu kosho, fried caper leaves and skin cracking. This was divine, the fish melted in your mouth, I could’ve literally had 10 of these but alas it was a degustation.
The fifth course was another piece of nigri, this time the pumpkin, miso and caviar. This was also delicious, the flavours came together beautifully.
Now we move onto the meat. The sixth course was the Roasted Aylesbury duck breast with sansho pepper, cherry umeboshi, sheep yoghurt, apple cream and fennel pollen. The duck was cooked perfectly and went nicely with the yoghurt and cream.
The seventh course was the David Blackmore wagyu with chestnut mushrooms, roasted onion and mustard, horseradish leaf and shiso. This was my favourite savoury course, the wagyu was medium rare and so tender and juicy and it was beautifully presented.
Now we moved onto desserts, the first was another amuse bouche (not complaining there!), the coconut sorbet. This was delicious and refreshing, the perfect palate cleanser!
The eight course was the blackberries with salted white chocolate chantilly, yoghurt, frozen blackberry, rose and gingerbread. This was delicious, the tangy blackberries contrasted nicely with the white chocolate chantilly.
The ninth and final course was something that I was looking forward to the whole night, the famous Sepia Chocolate forest with soft chocolate, hazelnut and almond, white rose cream, blackberry sorbet, lemonade fruit and ginger jellies, green tea, licorice, chocolate twigs, bronze fennel, marigolds. I had high expectations for this dessert and it certainly did not let me down, it was incredibly intricate yet all the flavours and textures came together perfectly. They also wrote happy anniversary on the plate which was a nice touch.
Overall, it was definitely another unforgettable dining experience. The service was impeccable and the food spectacular, I will definitely be sad to see them close but can’t wait to try whatever Martin Benn does next- they are apparently opening a new restaurant in Melbourne so will be keen to check it out!