We have a new favourite restaurant in Sydney; Automata✨. This was such an amazing culinary experience from the gastronomy to the staff to the vibes. We want to shout out to Immaree for her excellent service and conversations, who no doubt made our night more wonderful.
Automata is a fine dining restaurant in Chippendale, Sydney, focusing on a movable approach to Australian and European cuisine. They've been award two hats for the past 3 years, equivalent to two Michelin stars.
We got the extended menu for $195 pp and one beverage pairing for $100 pp.
Our first entree was an angasi oyster cream, white asparagus & caviar. It arrived in this beautiful iridescent shell dish and it tasted so effin' delicious 🤤. This was definitely both of our favourites of the lot. The oyster emulsion was smooth and flavourful, with a natural oyster taste. The overall bite was mainly acidic, with a slight tang from the lemon juice the white asparagus was cooked in. The caviar added a boujie saltiness to the bite that made it super addicting. By the end of it, we were licking our shells clean with beaming eyes.
On this entree dish was the spring green tart, the quail leg lollipop and the grilled octopus....
Our second favourite entree was the succulent quail leg lollipop, black garlic and blackberry. Like ooft, this was divine! The black garlic sauce had so much depth of flavour with mild saltiness and hints of umami. The meat was very tender and juicy for such a small piece of bird. It was so satisfying sucking the flavours off the bones. We even used the bone to lick up all the sauce too 🤣 #savage but so good!
This spring green tart, lemon myrtle and sheep's curd was surprisingly delicious and voted number 4 on our list. It was balanced, both savoury and refreshing. We were actually nervous seeing "sheep" on the menu but there was barely any stench! The sheep's curd was not overwhelming at all and well-infused with the lemon. The tart had a perfect crunch that contrasted well with the soft filling.
This was the grilled octopus, bean paste and osmanthus and unfortunately ranked last out of the 6 entrees for us. It had a nice smokey, charcoal flavour from the grill. The osmanthus flower had a subtle sweet aroma. This entree was a decently warm and chewy bite that just paled in comparison to the other dishes.
These little balls were the crumbed anchovy olives. I'm not a fan of either so these are Mick's words: the olive inside was fresh and salty. The anchovies had been turned into a thin, crispy batter layer that brought forth a subtle fish and oceanic flavour to the olive. He loved it. Ranked 5th out of the entrees.
Coming in number 3 was the storm shell clam, xo chilli and red vinegar. This was an additional dish, part of the extended menu. And we were so glad we leveled up because this clam was delicious! The vinegar and XO sauce was well balanced. XO sauce is usually the dominating factor of a dish but the vinegar used here cut right through, allowing the clam flavour to shine. It had an overall acidic taste profile. The clam had a chewy texture.
Our first main dish was the warmed scallop, black rice, ginger, red rice sake kasu, paired with a glass of Mukai Shuzo Ine Mankai 2019 (Kyoto).
Food: This was a notably balanced dish with an umami flavour profile. The scallops were soft and melted on our tongues. There was a sweet note in the aftertaste of the sauce. The black rice was squishy with a slight chew, mellowing out the sauce.
Bevarage: This junmai red rice sake was made from the first female brewery in Japan! It had a sweet aroma and was very easy to drink. It paired perfectly with the dish, complimenting the umami flavours.
OH CHEESES, THIS WAS HEAVENLY DELICIOUS! 😍😍😍 This was the steamed hapuka, roe emulsion, kombu butter & laver paired with a glass of Les Fruits - Jus de Nature 'Rudy' 2019 (Adelaide).
Food: The butter was so friggin' good!! It was love at first taste; check out Mick's reaction hahaha. The butter was very creamy, smooth and rich. It was god tier and elevated the taste of the hapuka to another level 🤤 For presentation, the fish was covered in seaweed and we got to unravel it with our forks. The seaweed brought a salty touch, balancing the richness. The fish was tender and succulent, having absorbed all that butter goodness.
Beverage: The wine had a creamy and oak balance with a citrus profile. It cut through and enhanced the butter, leaving this perfect aftertaste.
By the end of it, we were licking our plates and begging Immaree for the recipe LOL
The instant look of satisfaction on Mick's face 😂
This in-house wholemeal bread and whipped butter arrived with our next dish. The bread was very fluffy ad airy. This butter, although not the same kombu butter as the previous dish, was so creamy and light. It had a mild butter taste with a hint of goat cheese.
This next main dish was the sand crab and fermented chilli pasta, black lime and marigold paired with a glass of Sam Vinciullo Cowaramup - Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (Western Australia).
Food: This was a moderately al dente pasta with a strong fermentation smell and taste. The fermentation rose from the chilli aroma and was not spicy at all. The lime cut through the fermentation, balancing the dish well. The crab piece was an entire leg and very tender. Mick said this dish was good but not the best, however I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had an unique, almost exotic, taste to it.
Beverage: The white wine had a very strange colour of white, yellow and green. It had a zippy smell and a strong acidity taste. It was a great combination with the pasta.
The next dish was part of the extended menu; the roasted quail, pickled muntries, charred eggplant & caper leaves paired with a Manon APQ Cider 2019 (Tasmania).
Food: The quail was soft but not tenderized; there was a bit of a chewiness to it. It was moderately flavourful. The sauce had a sweet and sour taste from the goji berries. This brought out the acidity and spice of the dish. The eggplant was a charred paste and very creamy. Overall, a delicious and balanced dish.
Beverage: We couldn't believe this cider was $75 on the menu 😱 It was an apple, pear and quince cider. We also were amazed the restaurant chose a cider for their beverage pairing because most restaurants would pair their food with wines. We found out Manny, their sommelier, is a bloody genius. He knew this dish had hints of spice and didn't want to add an acidic drink (such as wine) to overdrive that flavour so he balanced it with a refreshing, fruity cider 👏🏻
Our last main dish was the black angus rib eye, grilled cucumber, jalapeño and herb sauce paired with a Massimo Rivetti Barbera d'Alba Superiore Froi 2017 (Italy).
Food: This delicious rib eye was cooked medium rare and melted in our mouths. The spring onion oil instantly reminded us of Vietnamese cooking because this is a common condiment we use. The jalapeño sauce was light with a sassy kick. Everything eaten together gave us a homey vibe.
Beverage: This red wine had a cherry taste with a herbaceous aroma, complimenting the jalapeño in the dish. It was a very easy-to-drink red with no tartness to it. It was really nice and reminded us of our lovely dinner in Rome when we were high on travelling and love.
At this point we were moderately full but still comfortable in our pants so we ordered the ossau iraty, rye cracker, rosemary for an extra $14. This had a moderate goat-flavour aftertaste that Mick found too overwhelming. It was not a strong stench but he's sensitive to that flavour. The crackers were salty, thin crisps. The pear quince was fruity and fresh, cutting through the goat flavour.
Moving on to desserts, we have the set jersey milk, burnt watermelon juice and virgin olive oilpaired with a glass of Antica Formula 1786 Vermouth (Italy).
Food: The first bite would have been overpowered by the burnt watermelon juice but the olive oil cut right through, creating an interesting taste that might not appeal to some. The jersey milk custard underneath was milky and smooth, like a flan. It was very delicious when we separated the burnt taste.
Beverage: The paired Italian fortified wine did a great job hiding that burnt taste and elevating the jersey milk underneath. It was a great combination.
This dessert was part of the extended menu; the caramelised pineapple and liquorice cheesecake paired with 1 part of Tissot Macvin Blanc du Jura (France) and 2 parts of Ratafia Champenois: Specialites Dumangin (France).
Food: This cheesecake was more cheesy than cake, with a spongy texture. There was sweet and juicy pineapple cream hidden inside. Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of the cross section. We were so focused on the wine, we thought this dessert was actually the compliment, not the spotlight 😂
Beverage: We'll say it again, Manny (sommelier) is a genius. Who would have thought to combine two wines for a pairing? And to top it off, the Tissot Macvin Blanc du Jura is actually a limited edition wine, with the last 3 bottles in the hands of Automata. Mick was beaming knowing he was sipping an exclusive alcohol #sucker LOL. The Ratafia Champenois was a fortified wine, described as liquorice, nutty and sweet.
Our final dessert was the pumpkin seed sorbet, soft meringue, seed oil, mandarin and dried plum paired with a Heiwa Shuzo Tsuru-Ume Nigori Umeshu (Japan).
Food: This pumpkin sorbet was light and creamy with the softest crunch, It was almost like eating a twix, but lighter. The honeycomb pieces were moderately flavourful and not overpowering.
Beverage: The paired umeshu elevated the sweetness of the dessert in a perfect match of honeyed heaven. It was a great way to end the meal.
I DID NOT EXPECT THIS BUT OH MY CHEESES, they brought out this additional dessert with a friggin' candle. I got to be 1 again 🤣 I was honestly shook. We've never had a restaurant go this far and beyond for us, a customer. Most of the fine dining restaurants will scribble happy birthday in chocolate over one of the dessert dishes or give you an extra petit four BUT WOAH! THEY MADE ME A WHOLE DAMN DESSERT.
Food: This was a coconut sorbet with sesame drizzle and honeydew balls. It was sooo good; a mix of sweet and bold. It was really delicious and I ate it so fast, I almost licked the bowl. I hope Automata puts this on their menu soon.
Automata was top notch ⭐. Every single dish and beverage choice was balanced, hitting all the right taste buds. The gastronomy was on point and there was not a single fault we could find. Some dishes did alright because we were comparing it with the others, but on its own, it was still an appetizing meal.
The quality of the food was amazing. The course order was great, mixing acidic dishes in between rich ones. We thought the extended menu was a great value: 3 extra dishes for another $30. We were quite full by the end of dinner, finishing our meal at midnight.
Manny (sommelier) did a great job picking the perfect drink to match the delicious dishes. There were a few times when Immaree (server) would give us an extra glass of wine and for that, we are so thankful 😆
Immaree was the best server we have ever had. She was top tier in the ranks with Juan (Front of House at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay). It was amazing talking to her. Our conversations had a personal touch. She had so much knowledge, not just about the food and drinks served at Automata, but also about how to run a restaurant, her experiences at other fine dining restaurants in Sydney and how gastronomy works.
We were seated upstairs, the furthest away and yet there was not a single moment during the night when we felt forgotten. All the staff were attentive and the dishes arrived in a timely manner. We never sat without food at any time.
Overall, we love Automata. It has jumped up our ranks and is now our favourite restaurant in Sydney. We're already excited to go back for their next seasonal menu. We feel this is an underrate restaurant that deserves more attention so give it a try when you get the chance.
Thanks for reading! Happy eating! 💕
In March 2020, we were very lucky to secure an omakase seating with Chef Junichi Sato during our short trip to Tokyo, Japan. This restaurant, opened under the guidance of 3-Michelin-star Chef Yoshitake, was a hidden gem and the entire dining experience was exceptionally superb. Keep in mind we had our first omakase experience with Chef Takashi Sano in Sydney only a month earlier so we were dining with a basic understanding of what to expect.
For those that do not know, omakase (omakase shimasu) means "I'll leave it up to you". It is a Japanese style of eating where the customer trusts the chef completely and is presented with whatever the chef feels like cooking, usually a variety of seafood as sashimi, nigiri and sushi.
This was a 2 hour omakase experience, costing ¥30,000 per person. Due to the sudden emergence of Covid, the Australian currency was dropping drastically at the time so this dinner converted to about $450 per person.. 😭😭😅
We struggled finding this gem. Google Maps directed us in the right direction however finding the signage for the restaurant was very difficult. It was located in this tiny alleyway, in this private building. We only noticed the entrance when we saw the name of the restaurant on the door bell.
After buzzing the door, we were invited in and took the elevator upstairs where we were seated with only one other Japanese couple. It was a very private dinner with just us 4, the wait staff and the chef.
To start our meal, we had steamed squid with tomato berry and vinegar. This was such a refreshing and delicious dish! The squid had a very tender texture, not its typical bouncy-like texture, making it so easy to chew. The jelly substance was a little acidic and sweet, contrasting the oceanic flavours of the squid. I found it quite addicting and I had to stop myself from licking my cup clean in such a fancy place; and this was only the first dish! 😍
Our second dish was flounder with sea cucumber and roe. Mmm, so good! Thinly sliced and delicately handled onto our plate, this fish had a mild flavour profile with a slightly sweet undertone. The sea cucumber and roe enhanced its sweetness and in that one bite, everything melded together into fresh fish heaven. I remember we both looked at each other in eagerness, knowing this was only the start of the sashimi luxury we were about to indulge in that night.
Next up was octopus served in: soy and salt. Unfortunately, Chef Sato does not speak English but we were able to pick up on what he was trying to say...
This soy soaked octopus had a strong salty and umami flavour. Due to the long cooking time in the sauce, the octopus had a more soft and spongy texture than the other one. The added wasabi elevated the soy with its mild taste. Mick enjoyed this one more.
P.S. This was real, freshly-grated wasabi and had been out for longer than its potency period so it wasn't as "spicy" as horse radish (the "wasabi" everyone is familiar with). The real wasabi's mild taste was actually the perfect condiment to the raw octopus and we loveddddd it. Too bad real wasabi costs $200/kg 😔
This beautiful piece was the boiled and salted octopus. This bite was moderately salty with a slight umami under flavour. The texture was a lot more bouncy and chewy. The boiled method retained the shape of the octopus, giving this intricate detail of its tentacle. I enjoyed this one more because of its natural taste and it reminded me of *whispers* takoyakiiiiii 😆
We ordered a junmai sake for our meal. Mick was in love with this tokkuri.
This handful bite was a piece of mackerel, wrapped in nori. The rice was in the centre, surrounded by the soft and moist meat of the fish. The mackerel had a blend of rich and mild salty flavours, differentiated by the different colours of green. The seaweed added a nice, dry crunch to the bite. We loved the delicate presentation too.
This cute pot was marinated squid with a touch of ginger. The small-sized squids were chewy and firm, swimming in a slimy and gelatinous mouthfeel. The sauce had an umami and mildly sweet taste, dominated by the grated ginger on top. It was very appetizing.
This was a shabu shabu style clam. Shabu shabu is the Japanese version of hot pot and an onomatopoeia of stirring meats/veggies in a broth. The clam was steamed, giving it a bouncy and soft texture. It had a moderately strong briny taste. The broth was deliciously savoury and clean.
This was so pretty to look at! It was a bonita fish cooked in otaku style. I may have heard that wrong because otaku means 'an obsession with anime and manga' 😂 but wowwwww! The sauce was so friggin' good! It had this savoury, sweet smokiness to it that was absolutely de-li-ciousssss. The fish was tender with a charred flavouring and we could really taste the charcoal that was used. The added chives were the perfect, light garnish.
For decoration, these were the heads of the crab we were about to devour. We thanked them for their sacrifice because the next dish was bomb!
This delicious dish was a spin of ganjang gejang (カンジャンケジャン) - the Korean popular side dish of marinated raw crab. Instead of using meat of the leg, Chef Sato marinated every element of the head in a sweet and thickened sauce. This created a lot of depth of flavour and it was so good. Every bite was packed with scrumptious crab goodness. The texture was a contrast of gooeyness, tender meat and crunchy shell parts.
This next one was abalone soup. I'm not a fan of abalone because the texture reminds me of mushroom but surprisingly, I really enjoyed this dish. The abalone was more tender than chewy, and oozed of flavour from the corn-flavoured sauce. It was hard to tell what exactly the sauce was but it had a mildly sweet (from the corn) and herbaceous taste profile.
This butter fish was so delicious!! The miso paste melted over its flavourful body, creating this creamy bite of soft fish flesh. The charcoaled skin was crispy but was still stringing on in the bite so it was a nice contrast of both worlds (tender / crispy) partying in our mouths. The edamame beans were larger than what we were used to and had a firm-soft texture. These beans added a buttery and nutty taste to the dish.
Our bodies and souls were ready for the sashimi and we kid you not, we were both salivating watching Chef Sato slice these pieces.
The first of the nigiris was the Spanish mackerel. It was similar to the taste of salmon with a sweeter note. The flesh was soft and smooth and absolutely delectable. We were mmmm and ahhhh-ing instantly after the fish touched our tongues. The rice had been prepped into a perfectly-sized oval, with a layer of soy sauce and wasabi hidden underneath the mackerel.
This was a sardine nigiri and woahh, the details on the de-scaled skin was mesmerizing. The fish was also a soft texture and melted in our mouths. It had a slightly fishy and subtle lime taste. Mick is a sardine-lover and was savouring every last moment.
This was an interesting nigiri. It was clam with wasabi and it had the most unique appearance. We loved that each tentacle was kept in shape and wrapped around the rice. We also loved Chef Sato's precision in placing the wasabi in the centre. It had a chewy and slightly rubbery texture. The taste was mildly oceanic.
Oh boy, time for the guns! This gorgeous slab of fish was the akami tuna, cut from the upper part of the back and inside of the tuna fish. 'Akami' is notorious for its delicious 'red-fatty meat'. It was fuckin' de-li-cousssss, with as much emphasis as we can describe. The tuna game in Japan is definitely on another level.
Following traditions of an omakase, we have the next level up; the chuu toro 😍 Look at the details! This is a cut towards the belly of the tuna fish and it often has a mixed amount of fat and red meat. It was tender and savoury with bursts of umami all wrapped up in a perfect bite of tuna paradise. Just... YUMMMMM!
Ok, ok, we officially died at this point and went to tuna heaven with this motherfuckin' otoro. It was so fatty! The entire piece fell apart in our mouths and we were swept away by the imaginary ocean that had succumbed our tastebuds. Just look at the beautiful marbling on that scrumptious piece of fish... I would sell my hair and be bald forever to be able to eat this piece for the rest of my life.
We ordered another sake to compose ourselves; a ginjo type, and this unique tokkuri was so cute.
This was kohada fish. Unfortunately not as mind blowing as the tuna, but this delicately cut and aesthetically looking fish tasted similar to the sardines with a flavourful fishy taste profile. It had a soft fleshy mouth feel.
Oh my gawd, this ebi nigiri was soooooo good! It was super creamy with a slippery, tender and firm texture. The miso paste elevated the sweetness of the prawn, making our eyes roll into the back of our heads when this beauty touched our tongues.
Only in Japan can we eat hundreds of high quality sea urchines for an affordable cost. This rare and delicious uni maki had a blend of a salty sea urchin and a creamy sea urchin so we got to taste the best of both worlds. This bite... I'm honestly starting to run out of words because I was so mind blown by the immense overload of umami flavours but yeah.. de-fuckin'-li-couss! I WANNA EAT THIS AGAIN.
One of Mick's all-time favourite, the unagi nigiri, a.k.a. eel. This was perfect in all its simplicity. Chef Sato had brushed a thin layer of teriyaki sauce over the grilled flesh of this flavourful eel, heightening its sweetness in this soft bite of goodness.
This was hamaguri, known as Asian hard clam. We had never had this before so its texture was similar to regular clam, with that firm, bouncy mouthfeel. The teriyaki brought about a sweet aroma in this mild umami-flavoured bowl of seafood. It was very delicately displayed and tasted nice but not our favourite of the night.
We were a little sad when the negitoro roll arrived. This is traditionally a hand rolled temaki of all the leftover tuna pieces that did not make the cut, usually served towards the end of the omakase. It was a saddening and delicious bite, filled with intense tuna flesh, crispy salted seaweed and sweet bundles of rice.
Following traditional omakase courses, and sad endings, we have our second last dish, tamago. We kid you not, this was absolutely the best egg omelette we have ever had in our lives, including the Tsukiji Fish Market one and Kichi Kichi Omurice. And based on reviews, this may be the upcoming winner of the best tamago in Tokyo! This soft and heavenly piece of egg was so fluffy and flavourful with a hint of sweetness, it dispersed in our mouths and left us unhinged from the ground. Mick was so in love, he kept complimenting Chef Sato and ended up getting an extra piece because Chef Sato said they were now 'tomadaichi' (friends).... I'm still jealous, 6 months later as I write this post 😒 LOL.
We ended our beautiful night and cleansed our palate with miso soup and scallions. It was salted, tangy and savoury.
The entire course was completed in 2 hours. We were welcomed to stay and enjoy our sakes if we wanted however it was 10 PM so we decided to head home with our food bellies. We were filled to the brim after that 24 course meal.
Chef Sato was very friendly and did his best to engage with us foreigners despite only knowing basic English. This was an amazing experience, especially given our research of other Japanese omakase and their "unfriendly" service. We're so glad we got to dine at this hidden gem because we genuinely believe Chef Sato will earn a Michelin star or two in the next few years. Like c'mon, he was trained by Chef Yoshitake, who has upheld 3 Michelin stars at every single location around the world. Plus Chef Sato's tamago was the best piece of egg to ever touch our tongues😍😍😍😍.
Thank you so much for reading.
And thank you Chef Sato for the best Japanese meal of our lives.
One of our bucket list goals was to witness the 桜 (sakura; cherry blossoms) in full bloom in Japan. If you didn't know, these flowers only bloom for about 2 weeks every year before they start falling off the tree. The blooming period is random and can be anywhere between early March till late May.
Last year I tried but I missed the blooming window by 2 weeks. All the flowers were withered and scattered on the ground. This year we were more lucky and caught the first few days of the blooming season. We visited Shinjuku Gyoen National Park on 25th March 2020 for 花見 (hanami; flower viewing) with our mate, Aaron.
P.s. the photos of us were taken with Mick's Sony Alpha 7RIV.