Since opening in 2018, Aldgate’s Yuki in the Hills has forged a reputation for providing some of Adelaide’s best sushi, ramen and tempura. But owner Mike Oh always wanted to introduce local diners to a world beyond those Japanese staples. So in November last year he opened Yuki in Burnside with a simple mission statement: “I want to bring the very best Japanese food to the people of Adelaide.”
“Yuki in the Hills offers casual, family-friendly dining,” Oh explains. “Here it’s more fine dining, with high-end Japanese food inspired by the best restaurants in Kyoto and Tokyo.” That includes a four-course set menu option on weeknights, but the new restaurant’s drawcard is undoubtedly the extended omakase (essentially a Japanese degustation).
The platinum omakase is delivered over two hours, and the eight courses include offerings not commonly seen in Adelaide – from delicate zensai (appetizers) to yakimono sakana (flame-grilled fish) and sunomono (pickled sides such as Hokkaido snow crab with caviar served on a wasabi leaf). On Sunday evenings, chef Yohei Hombo also offers a 20-course sushi omakase. Like much of the kitchen’s output, it is fuelled by the relationship he developed with importers during his time as a sous-chef at Melbourne’s Ishizuka.
“Chefs in other restaurants use a lot of salmon and kingfish, but I try to get fish that is more unusual,” says Hombo, who also worked for 10 years at a fish market in Shinjuku, Tokyo. That means using local fish like Murray cod alongside the highest quality imported ingredients, including richly marbled A5 Wagyu. But the item he’s most proud of is the chu-toro, a prized cut of tuna belly, finely marbled with fat, that’s flown over from Tokyo's biggest fish market, Toyusu, several times a week.
As well as incredibly fresh fish, the knife is vital when preparing sashimi – Hombo uses the keen blade of a $1200 Kouhou blue-steel yanagiba, forged using the traditional Mizuyaki Honyaki method. And because the sushi omakase is offered to only eight diners at each sitting, everyone has a front row seat to watch their courses being prepared.
With a long bar and half a dozen tables ranged along the opposite wall, the restaurant can seat 35, but Oh takes a maximum of 18 bookings per session to maintain the highest quality of food and service. And despite the location just metres from busy Portrush Road, sound dampening curtains block out the noise of traffic, meaning Yuki in Burnside is an oasis of calm.
It’s an impression reinforced by a restrained fit-out that uses a muted colour scheme and has a strong focus on natural materials. “Wood and stone are two key elements to create a Japanese atmosphere,” Oh explains, “and I wanted it to feel as much as possible as if you are in Japan.” To that end, he also imported most of the ceramics and glassware from his home country; some are displayed in front of a backlit feature screen with intricate geometric patterns that draws the eye to the food preparation area.
The weeknight set menu changes on a daily basis, but the more opulent Platinum Omakase rotates every three months, honouring seasonality in a number of ways. The just-released winter menu includes root vegetables like a scallop of daikon braised in bonito stock and topped with a salty burst of salmon roe, and a turnip that’s been carved into a hexagon recalling a turtle shell and filled with prawn flesh, shimeji mushroom, bonito broth and a twist of lime.
Other courses reflect the season in different ways: chazuke is a traditional winter dish made by pouring green tea over rice, and Hombo gives his version extra depth with charcoal-roasted hojicha tea, bonito broth and a wafer of sesame-marinated snapper.
Accompanying the food is a nimble beverage program curated by sommelier Karl Tang (ex-Daughter in Law), who is not afraid to mix up the order of the drinks served. If you select the pairing, expect to start with Louis Roederer bubbles before moving on to a light sake, such as the incredibly clean Dassai 39. After that, a Travis Tausend pinot might be followed by an unfiltered sake reminiscent of natural wine, a pinot grigio, and umeshu with dessert.
Like everything at Yuki in Burnside, the drinks pairing is designed to be approachable but elegant, and to take diners on a journey. “The word omakase means ‘I leave it up to the chef’, and that’s what we want you to do when you come here,” says Oh. “It’s up to him to source the best ingredients and use all of his cooking skills. That way, you can simply enjoy the meal.”
Yuki in Burnside
548 Portrush Road, Glen Osmond
Wed to Sun 5.30pm–10.30pm