Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sono Brisbane City

All my friends are leaving Brisbane. Yes, I know it is a movie title, but if they do a remake- I could star. In the last 12 months, twelve (12!!) of C and I's rather close friends have left Brisbane. Why this sudden rushing away? Well, various reasons. 2 moved to WA for work, 2 went overseas, 4 finished Uni and had to relocate to regional areas for their first jobs, 2 moved up north and 2 moved back out to the areas they originally came from. Sob sob.

Don't get my wrong, I still have enough of my old cronies that I kick about with, but the group dynamics have definitely changed. I'm not sure whether this just happens sometimes, as in-it is a phase of life, but I'm sad I don't get to see all my old friends very often anymore.

Seeing it's just C and I living together, I try to make sure I have a really active social life- I guess wanting to have people around all the time is a product of growing up in a house that never houses sleeps. My family home is a drop in centre for everyone, and its rare that my family are home together, by themselves. There are always plenty of cars in the driveway and at holiday times, there are always streams of people passing through. That's just the way it has always been.

Going to boarding school also meant that I was used to being around people all the time too, so in a funny way, my 20's and living with C has been one of the quieter living situations I have been in. I do like the peace and quiet sometimes, but also crave the old times where people were just hanging out. It seemed a morning visit to the markets could become an all day affair, ending with a glass of dodgy red on the verandah after a long day doing nothing but talking, laughing, reminiscing and planning.

That's why I was really happy when my friend El (who moved to WA)announced she would be visiting for a week so we could catch up for dinner. Shame it was on a weeknight, so I couldn't really cut loose with her as I'd have liked, but still exciting! El is seriously allergic to gluten so that immediately cuts out some dining options that don't really cater very well towards allergies, but I knew El would probably suggest going to Sono in the City as she loves Japanese food. As I had been thinking about and talking about visiting Sono I was very happy about that.

Actually El originally picked another dining option, but acting on advice coming from good authority, we decided not to go there, and to indeed, go to Sono.

Sono has two restaurants, one at Portside Wharf and one in the City. Brisbane isn't exactly renowned for it's high quality Japanese, but Sono is a name that is synonymous with consistently good, high quality food and is more authentic than most.

Sono is located above the Queen Street Mall in the Tattersalls Arcade. The entrance is via a very mirrored stairway just next to BankWest. When entering we are greeted with a flurry of いらっしゃいませ(i think that is how it is written) from the staff and shown to our table.

When we got to the table we removed our shoes, and then sat down. The seats are sort of situated on the floor in a traditional style, but under the table, there is a little hollow for your legs so it is still pretty comfy.

Before we got to Sono, I had already perused the menu. Hmmm now when I say perused, I should admit to, in true food blogger style, studying the thing for at least about 20 minutes, as coincidentally I was talking to another food blogger friend earlier in the day about going with her sometime too. I already knew that we would have one of the Sashimi platters and El suggested ordering the large sashimi platter ($48) and the appetiser platter for $18. I wanted some miso, so we both ordered miso and to finish off, a sake tasting kit for (about) $28. The waitress suggested sharing the sake tasting kit instead of having one each, and trying some Umeshu Wine. After some deliberation, we decided on the green tea version for $9 a glass.

The sake tasting kit arrived, as did one glass of green tea Umeshu. We realised there had been a little bit of a 'lost in translation' moment i.e. the waitress thought we only wanted one glass of Umeshu. After tasting it- and revelling in it's beautiful fresh green tea goodness, we realised we needed another quick smart. Although it took a while for the drink to arrive and we had to prompt a second time, the waitress more than made up for the little mishap with her polite apologies. Actually, I loved that Umeshu so much, I wouldn't mind buying a bottle to keep at home. It was served on the rocks and was totally different to any alcohol I have ever tasted, I guess a little like chilled green tea but more alcohol. The wine is made from Ume which is a Japanese apricot or Chinese plum, both from the plum family, so is often referred to (in Australia) as plum wine. Umeshu is made by steeping still green ume fruits in alcohol and sugar. The alcohol content is fairly low compared to other liqueurs and the taste is delicious, you should definitely try, especially if you are a fan of green tea.

The sake was quite um... sakeish. Sorry guys, I'm really not much of a Sake expert so I'm not going to pretend I am. I'll have to learn a little bit more before I feel qualified to comment. What I can tell you is that the sake tasting set consists of three glasses of sake ranging across different styles and grades for you to taste. There is Suishin Junmai, Echigo Toji No Sato Ginjo and Kamotsuru Hojun Reishu on offer. The waitress suggests that you try in a particular order, and we both like the third option the best.

Our appetiser platter was very quick to appear, closely followed by the miso soup and the Sashimi platter. I decided to drink my miso first, which was delicious. Very fresh tasting with a nice bit of shallot and tofu added for interest.

The appetiser platter consisted of five different elements. The edamame was tender, and even though I know that you are only supposed to eat the peas inside, I really feel the urge to chew the whole bean sometimes. Don't worry, I don't do it when I'm dining out, but at home, I really don't mind chewing on the bean and just removing the stringy pieces- there is something quite satisfying about the fibrey bean.

El ate the oyster with ponzu sauce noting that it was fresh and plump. She also had the pork simmered in sweet soy and really enjoyed how tender the pork was.

I had the Kani cream korokke which is similar to a croquette. The filling was creamy and contained crab. Although I couldn't really taste the crab, I enjoyed the deep fried ball which oozed creamy innards. Quite delish.

I also had the soft shell crab with shiso sauce which was quite good too. The crab was crunchy, and even though it was only a small part of the crab, I did get quite a large chuck of deliciously sweet meat. The shiso sauce added freshness - I think I have a new found love for shiso sauce!

The sashimi platter was beautifully presented on ice, with nine types of fish/seafood on offer. All the sashimi was sliced beautifully and thinly- this for me, is a prerequisite to eating sashimi. There is nothing worse than trying to gulp down huge chunks of raw fish, it is much more appealing when delicately presented, as was done at Sono. My favourites from the platter were the scallops (surprise surprise) and the kingfish which were extremely silky and tender. There was a fair helping of wasabi which (both being big fans) was used not-so-sparingly.

If I had to fault the platter, I would say that it was brought out a little too quickly, but this didn't really matter as everything was served on ice anyway. For me, the tuna was a low point, but I really don't like tuna AT ALL, in fact tinned tuna is one of the very few things I can say 'Yuck' to and really mean it. I am trying to come around though, and to do so, I would prefer really thinly sliced tuna pieces, although I'm not sure if this is customary!

The best part about this whole meal was it was incredibly fresh. Sometimes when you leave a restaurant, you feel uncomfortably full, but I felt really good, and maybe even, if I was being a glutton, could have fitted in dessert. Not that it was needed, but you know, it is always tempting to eat until you are really full. Next time I will try some other options like the gyoza and some of the chicken or beef, which all looked tantalising.

I can't believe I waited so long to visit Sono. This is a great Japanese restaurant with really good food, polite service and a lovely atmosphere. I particularly like the attention to detail including the beautiful plates and sake cups. I have heard some feedback suggesting others thought the restaurant was a little pricey, but El and I discussed this and we disagree. We both thought it was reasonably priced, particularly for the quality of food and service you are provided with. I think you should visit Sono soon if you are in the mood for Japanese. Actually, just get in the mood for Japanese! In fact, I liked Sono so much, that any time one of my other friends visit, I might just have to take them there too and I don't really mind if that does mean I'm visiting 12 times a year!

When to go: When you want fresh delicious, nutritious sashimi and to try some Umeshu green tea wine. Book ahead- they are usually busy, particularly on weekends.

So tell me readers.. Have all your friends left Brisbane (or your home town) at some point or another? How did you cope?

Sono Restaurant
Level 1, Tattersalls Building
Corner of Queen and Edward Streets (Entrance is through door via the Queen Street Mall)
Brisbane QLD 4000
07 3220 1888

Sono (Tattersall's Building) on Urbanspoon

12 fabulous comments:

delicieux said...

Great review GG and glad to hear you enjoyed it. My boyfriend and I love Sono and have been going for many years. The food is fresh, service is prompt and I love that the waitresses dress in kimono's.

You mentioned you aren't into Sake, I wasn't either, until one visit we asked one of the waitresses about a good Sake for beginners and she recommended Echigo Toji No Sato Ginjo or Village of the Sake Master. When we had that I can honestly say I enjoyed Sake for the first time ever and didn't feel like I was about to drink nail polish remover!! I also quite like Suishin or Drunken Heart. If you want to give Sake another try, I suggest those. I find it best to drink Sake warm too.

My only slight criticism of Sono is the limited amount of true vegetarian dishes as a few of the dishes that look vegetarian on the menu contain fish based stocks. Even so, I can still find something to eat. My favourite would be the Kinoko Salad and my boyfriend LOVES the Gyoza.

Ally said...

Damn you damn you. I am dying to go to Sono. That sashimi looks terrific.

Yup, a month ago I had all three of my closest girfriends overseas. One is back now. But she is going overseas again TOMORROW. So much hate.

mademoiselle délicieuse said...

Heheh, I went twice in the one week whilst we were visiting Brisbane so you already know what I thought about it!

Jen said...

Awww, I hear ya! Two of my closest friends left me to work overseas for a year, two years ago. I found it tough adjusting but eventually bonded with other friends and friends of friends, etc... But with things like Skype and Facebook, you sometimes feel like they've never left ;)

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

I visited this Japanese Restaurant in January when I was in Brisbane for a short trip. Love the sushi!

The InTolerant Chef said...

Japanese food is great for us InTolerants, in fact we are going on holiday in Asia partly because it will be easy to cater for my gluten and lactose InTolerance issues.
The fresh sashimi looks lovely,and miso soup is so yummy too!

Sharnee said...

All my friends are leaving Brisbane too!

I was at a cocktail function at Sono Portside last night - the food was really high quality for a large, finger food style function - fresh pacific oysters with raspberry, lemon and rice vinegar and grated radish were amazingly good.

Anonymous said...

I'm really curious as to where you can buy the plum wine from. i've been looking around for it

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Sorry to hear that your friends have been leaving. I refuse to let my friends leave haha! :P No seriously, thankfully most haven't had to move for work or anything. I would be devastated!

eatoutwithkids said...

Have just put Sono on my wish list- thanks!
I was the one who left Brisbane, leaving my friends behind. Left when I was 20, and didn't come back properly til I was 30. But came back I did, and I dare say most of your friends will return one day too. There's no place like home!

rabbitsimsparadise said...

Oh Sono looks really good! I've been wanting to visit but can't seem to stray away from Mizu everytime I think of having Japanese food.
For the anonymous looking for Ume (plum) wine, you can get them from Hanaichi in Wintergarden.

Rhu said...

I still have not got myself to Sono yet. Your post has made me remember that it is a MUST. I am on holidays - I will make a note to myself (and probably lose it) to make the effort and getthere while TFM is away.

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