This restaurant is now closed and replaced by Yebisu Izakaya.
Another one of the popular options for people wanting to enjoy the Crave Sydney International Food Festival is to indulge your sweet tooth by trying out the different Sugar Hit dessert options at a variety of restaurants. Tonight, I head to Azuma Kushiyaki Bar and Grill, which is tucked into Regent Place next to the KFC on George Street and very close to Town Hall station.
We are seated outside the restaurant along with many other tables all enjoying the Sugar Hit, in an area that I know is used for the neighbouring Ton Ton Ramen eatery during the day but has been cordoned off tonight for the use of Azuma, as they must be experiencing an influx of customers for Sugar Hit. I am a bit disappointed since I’ve been to Azuma Kushiyaki before for dinner and the inside is quite lovely and plush, while the outside has more of a food court feel since it is pretty much in an alleyway with a lot of pedestrian traffic and detracts from the ambience quite a bit.
Nevertheless, the service is efficient and out comes our Brown Brothers dessert wine to start us off – I think it is some sort of moscato, since it tastes of sweet honey. The dessert wine is included in the price of the Sugar Hit, and the non-alcoholic option is hot green tea.
After a couple of sips of the wine, the Sugar Hit double layered bento boxes come out too and they are so cute, with the top layer consisting of a shot of sake, a handmade chocolate with funky blue bubble graphics on it, skewer of sponge cake soaked in sake and green tea tiramisu in a clear container.
The waiter then slides the top layer off to reveal a small scoop of sesame ice cream and a little dish of finely diced seasonal fruits like strawberries and honeydew melon, with little purple tapioca pearls and 2 glutinous rice balls sprinkled with peanut dust.
We are a bit overwhelmed with so many little desserts that we aren’t quite sure where to start, so I pick out the sponge cake skewer first. It’s light and fluffy, but I can’t really taste the bitterness of the sake that it is supposedly soaked in. Then we move over to the 2nd layer of the box and try the fruits, which are fresh and interesting texture wise with the tapioca pearls and the boy loves the rice dumplings – apparently the perfect chewiness. They don’t taste like much on their own though and the peanut dust is a nice touch.
We realise that the icecream is going to melt if we leave it any longer, and the little scoop of white sesame icecream is creamy, though the sesame flavour is not that strong. Next up we tackle the green tea tiramisu and the layer of green tea powder on top is quite bitter but the mascarpone cheese cream is light and fluffy, delicately sweet and the layers of sponge in between taste of vanilla with a hint of green tea. Definitely a highlight of the bento and it is quite a large serving, even though it looks small at first.
All that’s left is the shot of sake and handmade chocolate. I figure we should do the sake first and finish on a sweet note with the chocolate, but I can barely take more than a sip of the sake as it is SO bitter after all those other sweet desserts and my palate can’t handle the alcohol (even the Brown Brothers moscato is starting to taste more bitter), so I leave most of it in the glass and quickly reach for the chocolate.
It is a dark and milk chocolate praline with caramel ganache, encased in dark chocolate with “an explosive finish”. There’s some sort of bubble rocks in the chocolate because it really does feel like bubbles popping in your mouth as you chew through the smooth chocolate and I quite like the mix of caramel with chocolate.
All in all, Azuma’s sugar hit offers a great balance of sweet flavours and some bitter moments and considering you get 5 little desserts and a glass of wine for $20, it’s not a bad deal.
Azuma Kushiyaki Bar and Grill
Ground Floor Regent Place Shopping
501 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9267 7775
Lunch: Tuesday – Saturday from 12pm
Dinner: Monday – Sunday from 6pm