Ebi Fine Food, 18A Essex St, Footscray. Phone: 9689 3300
Consider The Sauce loves Ebi; we adore the place, its charming host, the perfect fish and chips and bentos.
But $120 for a tricked-up degustation men?
Not exactly regular fare for CTS, as regular readers will understand.
How to justify such extravagance?
A few days out, but what the hey …
Tax return treat?
Having only just got all the required documentation in the one room, I haven’t even really started on this year’s effort yet …
Celebratory outing based on good results in the “scary medical tests” department?
Truth is, tonight’s Ebi event – the first of its kind – is simply too tempting to pass up.
I’m tingling with excitement at seeing John spread his wings with the sort of ritzy food, time – and labour-intensive sauces, and superior and refined ingredients of the kind that rarely come my way.
And I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with what I assume will be a small audience of Ebi regulars/fans and doing so with some classy beer, sake and wine on hand … though I suspect the booze may be wasted on a wine prol such as myself.
I’m expecting food that displays strong influences from both Japan and France – and maybe even Italy.
And so it largely proves to be …
Sharing the bar stools with me are Jake and Kim, on one side, with Daniel and Tom on the other.
The table for two behind us is soon filled, to my happy delight, with CTS pals Justin and Sasha!
And so it begins …
This is no ordinary degustation bash. For starters, the price is way less than those sought for most of the famed and storied options available elsewhere.
There’s the same paper serviettes as ever.
And John himself acts not just as chef but also waiter, maitre’d, busboy and dishwasher.
Frankly, I’d not be comfortable with a more formal arrangement.
Spherified edamame with sea salt crystals is as out-there as tonight’s fare is to get – John even uses the word “Bulli” in relation to it. It’s a gorgeous, slippery, crunchy mouthful with pronounced edamame flavour served with Koshihikari Echigo rice beer.
Anchovy and parmesan straws are rich, buttery and crumbly, the anchovies supplying just the right kind of salty flavour explosion.
Seared Hokkaido scallops with soy wasabi butter are such a hit – for good reason – that John quickly whips up another round for us!
Grilled, salted salmon belly is profoundly exquisite and served with Osakazuki Junmai Ginjo Sake.
Lobster? CTS? Blimey!
Butter-poached crayfish is a dream, served with a yuzu kosho sauce that exhibits just the right kind of tartness to match the seafood’s sweetness.
John describes the sauce as made with a fruit that is a mix of lemon, lime and orange blended with salt and chilli.
This is served with a just-right Borgo Bello Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2012.
We’re about to move into significantly more robust and richer territory …
Duck and porcini kamameshi comes with blackcurrant jus.
Kamameshi turns out to be a sort-of Japanese version of the universal rice dish and is very much like risotto – it’s wonderful, too, as is the juicy duck.
(Served with Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz 1998.)
Ahhh – the best of all!
Wagyu fillet with roast marrow, shallot and herb tartlet comes also with roast beetroot and organic kale.
It’s all terrific, the beef ultra-succulent and the tart pastry so very rich.
Served with Wynns Coonawarra black label Cabernet sauvignon 1997.
And to finish …
Ginger and ume bombe with “plum” ice-cream, sponge and meringue – just my kind of grown-up, not-too-sweet dessert; served with lovely Osakazuki Umeshu (“plum liquor”).
So … has it been worth it?
I’ve loved the food, the company, the conversation and the liquid accompaniments.
It’s been a beaut experience!
But we’ll still be loving those bentos and fish and chips …
And, yes, there may be more such events at Ebi.