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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Steak N’ Chicks Tuesday #2

The second Steak N’ Chicks Tuesday was better-populated than the inaugural, as is often the case with occasions for which invitations are a matter of honour and social standing. And because, like, more people came. The flexible ‘Steak’ requirement was bent a bit to include sushi, but the more rigid ‘Chicks’ requirement, although momentarily shaky once or twice, stayed intact.

30th May 2006 – Zushi, Victoria Road, Darlinghurst

The Place
Zushi ( is a bit like Uma Thurman – long, skinny, sophisticated, endearing, and no longer doing rude things to Ethan Hawke. Maybe just the first four. At first glance it’s just another Victoria Road hole-in-the-wall eatery, but it doesn’t take long for its casual warmth to seep in, even on a crappy, cold, wet night. We perched outside on red-cushioned wooden boxes under a very effective heater, and despite being interrupted by an extremely loud fire alarm emanating from the ‘gentleman’s club’ across the road, we were extremely comfortable. Tegan, our resident songbird, managed to incorporate a bit of an impressive James Brown/Fire Alarm mash-up anyway, so no real harm done. Zushi’s interior is dominated by a long sushi bar with stools along its length, with an additional kitchen at the back. Whilst waiting for the loo, I had a quick squiz into the kitchen, which looked like an alcoholic ceramicist’s wet dream with its massive collection of both wine and tiny, gorgeous little plates and dishes. A highly-commended mention must also be made regarding the loo – standard spacious general facilities, with the piece de resistance – a floor-length skinny-mirror. How to make your customers feel good AND eat more? Make them look two sizes slimmer!

The People
A great mix o’ chicks in attendance – the ubiquitous Alex, Fi and me, plus Steak N’ Chicks virgins Tegan, Sarah, Erica and Jas. Erica had to rush off a bit early to go and be a nurse, which was a shame, but I suppose bleeding people take priority over slices of dead fish. Zushi was staffed by an extremely efficient and friendly waitress, a handful of sushi chefs (not to be confused with sous-y chefs) in obligatory headbands, and Ray the Owner. Fi knew Ray, who came over for several chats and made sure we were phenomenally well looked-after, although even half the level of service we received would have been more than adequate. Double it, and time probably would have gone backwards. Other diners, mostly couples, seemed to be taking advantage of the extremely generous half-price Happy Hour between 6 and 7, as the clientele thinned out drastically after that time. Fi’s fiancé stopped by, but was quickly banished due to his inappropriate genitalia.

The Food
If I only had space for one or two words to describe the food, I’d probably use ones like “Dribble-Worthy”, or “Congratulations, Tummy!”. Luckily on my own blog I can use as many words as I like. So I will.
From the moment we were seated until the moment we left, gorgeously-displayed dishes seemed to cascade onto our table, which, to people like me whose digestive system takes priority over, let’s see, breathing and circulation, was Very Good News. Goma-ae (spinach salad with sesame) and Edamame (known worldwide as ‘those salty bean-pod things you have to eat fifty of’) were welcome starters, after which (thanks to a conversation between Ray and Fi in the ballpark of ‘keep ‘em coming’) the following arrived:
Sake, and plenty of it (warm, sweet, syllable-removing)
Oysters with dressing (superbly salty-fresh, and two each – slurpalicious)
Snapper sashimi (SO fresh, paper-thin, with a gentle spicy sauce)
Zushi rolls (avocado, prawn, and eel finished with crispy noodles and Japanese mayo – subtle, flavourful and oh-bugger-the-plate’s empty)
Zushi ‘crunch’ rolls (similar to above but rolled in crunchiness, tasting like an attractive fish breathed on a pillow in heaven)
Gyoza special roll (gyoza INSIDE a sushi roll, which is a bit like wrapping Clive Owen inside Johnny Depp. Porky and magnificent)
Agedashi Tofu (the only mild disappointment – a teensy bit flabby and watery, with not much flavour)
Seafood Tempura (fantastically crisp and fresh – endearingly spiky)
Gyoza (not that there’s such a thing as BAD Gyoza, these were tiny, perfect packages of spicy softness with an ideal smattering of crunchy/chewy bits).
My recommendation for anyone is to also top off the above with gooey chocolate birthday cake and a quick champers at the Vic Room next door…

The Summarising Bit

After the MASSIVE amount of food that made its way swiftly from the kitchen to our lower intestines, I was ready to sell some assets when the bill arrived, but I was gobsmacked when we were only set back $25 each. The phrase “Happy Hour” is truly a wonderful thing in any context, but especially here. Bloody good food, excellent service, top sheilas and an effective heater means two enthusiastically soy-smeared thumbs up.

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