KENJI MODERN JAPANESE, Adelaide
I’ve been to Kenji Modern Japanese four times over the years and each time I go I ask myself – why did I leave it so long between visits? Kenji Ito’s food has real WOW factor! Don’t go there for the traditional Japanese offerings (although I’m sure they’re great), go there for the extra-special food – the modern Japanese creations where chef Kenji works his magic, producing dishes that really excite! Kenji presents some unusual combinations at times but everything works together beautifully. With some dishes, there are so many flavours and textures going on in the one mouthful, yet you can still taste every individual ingredient.
There’s a number of ways you can eat at Kenji – there’s a la carte, including a page of sushi and sashimi, and then there are different degustation options – 5 courses for $88 per person, 6 for $99 (and being able to choose your dessert off the menu with these two is a nice touch) and then there’s the more traditional Japanese degustation with 8 courses for $115. We opted for the 6 courses. If we’d opted for the 5 courses we would have missed out on the quail and we couldn’t possibly do that!
Our friends had insisted on bringing the wines for the evening – God bless them. Two bottles of Grosset Polish Hill Riesling (2002 and 2004), and a Poonawatta Eden Valley Shiraz. Great wines and a good match for the food.
Now firstly, I have to mention the olives. I don’t usually rave about olives but these are SO GOOD! They’re done in miso, mirin, orange, cinnamon and cardamom and they’ll make you want to arm wrestle over who’s getting the last one!
Our first course should be compulsory for everyone – the Zensai mixed appetiser plate. I’ve caption the photos below with the full descriptions of everything but in short, this plate had soy milk & sweet corn soup, salmon tartare, octopus, prawn & pork cold roll and eel & wakame egg custard. We were all oooh-ing and ahhh-ing in delight. The people on the tables around us must have been thinking “I’ll have what they’re having”.
The following savoury courses were Pink Grapefruit cured kingfish with chilli cod roe and marinated blanched squid, Seared scallops with miso-grilled tuna, Fried quail with duck neck sausage, and Slow cooked Wagyu beef raviolo with salt & pepper bug tail. Yum, Yum, YUM!
For dessert we each chose a souffle (and why wouldn’t we?!). We had two Banana souffles and two Raspberry and Gorgonzola souffles between us and were instructed to eat from the bottom of the dish up to make sure we got a bit of everything in each mouthful. Light, fluffy, delicious.
We’re lucky to have Kenji Ito in Adelaide, such a fine talent who’s serving up food with a difference. You simply must get to Kenji – you’ll find it at the South end of Hutt Street.