Friday, February 24, 2017

Automata (Sydney, AUSTRALIA) ★★★★☆

Chippendale is a trendy, up-and-coming suburb that is attracting a lot of attention these days with its hip cafés, restaurants and galleries. Personally, I'm not really a hipster which helps to explain why it takes me so long to come here for the first time.

Automata is my first destination in Chippendale this afternoon. Secretly, I have been looking forward to this meal for a long time. I have heard a lot of great things about head chef Clayton Wells. After working at David Chang's Momofuku Seiobo, Peter Gilmore's Quay and Tetsuya Wakuda's Tetsuya, Wells teamed up with Singapore-based business partner Loh Lik Peng two years ago to open the hotly anticipated 60-seater Automata at the restored The Old Clare Hotel.

The dishes on Automata's five-course tasting menu (AUD$88) promises a lot of (pleasant) surprises.

A peek into the open kitchen...looked like everyone was working real hard behind the scene!

We started things off with a couple of snacks first. The crispy salmon skin and pork's neck with smoked rosemary and enoki mushrooms were not the best-looking amuse bouche we've seen but both of them proved to be very tasty.

Next up was a very refreshing dish with fresh plums and dried tomato served in a chilled shiso and kelp broth. There were different levels of acidity there coming from different ingredients resulting in a pretty interesting after-taste.

Warm mussels were served on a bed of soft stracciatella cheese, along with marjoram and black garlic. The contrasting flavors and textures were further enhanced by the sweetness of the mussel juice. Pretty nice.

The wholemeal and malt bread which was still warm from the oven, was seriously good!

I was hoping I could get a crack of their signature smoked eel but that wasn't meant to be. Instead, I was having octopus with fennel, squid ink, xo chili and red vinegar as my seafood course.

Despite not getting my wish, I was quite happy with the results of this dish. Was a little surprised how well the octopus, squid-ink, xo chili and red vinegar all came together. The octopus was super tender and not even a slight bit of rubbery texture in there.

Most of us was having lamb rump as our meat course. The slices of lamb was nicely matched with some eggplant, miso, brown butter and tamari. Not bad but I was told that some of them turned out to be a little chewy.

I didn't feel like having lamb today so I ended up swapping it with a few pieces of skirt steak. It's pretty much the same supporting cast and I found it working well with the skirt steak. Always love my skirt steak with a rosy pink centre and even better when the meat was rich and flavorful. No complaints from me there!

Dessert was a simple coconut sorbet topped with little scoops of rock melon and sprayed with black sesame sauce.

That's a nice wrap although I thought I would have room for at least 1-2 more dishes!

At first glance, I thought the industrial chic décor was a little cold to start but slowly I grew to like it more.

Automata offers a unique contemporary cuisine that's innovative, adventurous and exciting. It might not be for everyone but it's ideal for those who appreciates originality and flair.

Food Rating: 7/10
Price: $$$
Address: 5 Kensington Street, Chippendale, Sydney, Australia
Tel: +61 2-8277-8555

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