There really is such thing as a free meal! Thanks to the Tweet to Eat competition as part of March Into Merivale, I was lucky enough to score a free voucher to eat at one of nine Merivale restaurants offering $33 lunches and dinners, which include a main meal and a glass of wine or beer.
Deciding which restaurant to go was probably the hardest part, even with the help of the $33 menus available for viewing on the website. We ended up at sushi e, located in the Establishment building of the Merivale empire, and were seated on stools at a marble bar surrounding the sushi chefs, which allowed us to watch head chef Nobuyuki Ura in action.
We started off with a steaming bowl of miso soup (included in the $33 menu), which was very welcome on this dreary, rainy evening. The broth was more bland than I'm used to, and in the soup was deep fried tofu, spring onions and mitsuba leaf.
New style salmon sashimi
The menus at sushi e include a salad or sashimi dish, followed by a main dish, and so the first thing to arrive at our table was the new style salmon sashimi. Eight slices of salmon were drizzled with ponzu and garlic oil, then seared with smoking hot olive oil to cook the salmon just slightly. Each slice was also decorated with chives, sesame seeds and a paper thin piece of ginger. This was my favourite dish and I couldn't get enough of the citrus tang of the ponzu paired with the salmon.
Tuna and cuttlefish salad
The tuna and cuttlefish salad also did not disappoint. I was expecting this to be full of rabbit food (leaves) with not much fish at all but it turned out to be quite the opposite! There was a very generous amount of raw tuna and cuttlefish throughout the salad along with some colourful capsicum and cherry tomatoes. The salad itself was quite large and it was dressed with a lemon and lime dressing and toasted sesame seeds.
Roast pork, asian greens, ginger and shallot dressing
The roast pork was also an enormous serving, with tender slices of roast pork (not unlike those found on top of ramen) sitting on a bed of salad and asian vegetables. Although the pork was quite lean, it wasn't dry and there was still small ribbon of delicious fat on the edge of the slices to give it a burst of flavour. The ginger and shallot dressing was very tasty and Sir D proclaimed this is favourite dish of the night.
Unfortunately the miso mulloway paled in comparison to the roast pork, not only in portion size but in taste. The fish had been marinated with miso which imparted a slightly sweet flavour to the fish, but the fish was cooked a little inconsistently so that the parts near the skin seemed to be moist and tender but the flesh away from the skin was a bit dry and rubbery.
Spider roll (soft shell crab)
For an extra $16 we could select extra entrees from the menu from the sections of the menu entitled kitchen appetisers, salads and sushi rolls. Sir D was feeling rather peckish before the meal so we ordered two extra sushi rolls to act as fillers (although we did end up over-ordering since we underestimated the size of the dishes). We were able to watch the talented sushi chefs construct the roll right before our eyes and within minutes they presented it to us fresh on a wooden plank. The spider roll consisted of dry fried soft shell crab, cucumber, jalapeno mayo rolled inside-out with spicy tobiko (flying fish roe) and chives. The soft shell crab was nice and crunchy and there was a generous amount of tobiko which was quite spicy but this was cooled by the cucumber in the roll.
Spicy scallop tempura roll
The spicy scallop tempura roll on the other hand was not spicy at all, even though I watched as a 'spicy red sauce' supposedly containing togarashi chilli was squeezed on the seaweed. This didn't mean it wasn't a delicious tasting sushi roll though, with the springy cooked scallop encased by a crunchy batter of tempura with thinly sliced cucumber and loads of tobiko.
Russian cream dessert
A small dessert was also included with the $33 menu. It was called a Russian Cream dessert on the menu but the waitress introduced it as a vanilla pannacotta with raspberry coulis. Despite its small size, it was a delicious morsel of sweet and sour with the sweetness of the pannacotta combined with the tartness of the raspberries.
March Into Merivale runs from 15th February to 16th April, with $33 lunch and dinner offers available Monday to Friday from 12-2pm or 6-8pm. Check out the restaurant menus here. The Tweet to Eat competition is still running until 14th April, so you still have a chance to win a free $33 voucher! For more information, visit the March Into Merivale website.
Penguin says Feed Me received one $33 meal courtesy of Merivale. All other food and beverages were paid for by Penguin says Feed Me!
252 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: +61 2 9240 3000
Open Monday - Friday, lunch and dinner; Saturday, dinner only
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