In a microcosm where finesse is everything (with a price tag to match) Joel Best starts each day with a visit to the fish market to make sure every element is, well, the best it can be. At Besuto, the former Bondi’s Best’s new omakase-style venture, fish with finesse is the name of the game. Best, alongside the gregarious chef Hiro Fujita, are trying their hand at the “leave it to you” style of dining that has taken Sydney by storm in recent months. The 14-seater is one of the fleet of newly opened eateries at the CBD’s Quay Quarter, alongside neighbours like underground bar Apollonia and mega venue Hinchcliff House.
The service at Besuto is up there with any fine diner in town, attentive and personable, guests are encouraged to chat loudly and have some fun as chef Fujita regales them with tales of fish, his life as a young man, and drinking.
Things kick off with enormous deep-shelled Pacific oysters, topped with a yuzu jelly - the first of 20 courses. A cleansing stretch before the marathon begins. Next on the counter, a seafood combination of raw Japanese scallops, John Dory, and New Caledonian prawns on a wakame salad dressed in yuzu. It’s another clean course, with another appearance by the sharp citrus. Next up, a trio of sashimi; boar fish, a slice of perfectly tender Western Australian octopus, and bass groper with a bowl of house-made soy simmered with kombu. It’s delicate, textural and promising.
Each dish is enthusiastically explained by chef Fujita, whose warm energy is palpable and fills the otherwise stark and minimal room. Outside of a few dozen sake bottles and a secret meditation garden, all eyes are on the open kitchen, the stage for a dinner made before your very eyes.
Onto the sushi courses, arguably the test of a good omakase. Small handfuls of seasoned rice are plucked from a bamboo steamer, then deftly shaped into nigiri before being topped with slices Mount Cook alpine salmon, raw New Caledonian prawns, rich and fatty bonito, gelatinous and sticky sea eel (anago) and in a truly extra move, bumps of N25 caviar – harvested in high altitude waters in China then aged in Germany. In a city that so often champions local produce and makes efforts to reduce carbon footprints, this total globetrot is practically taboo. As is customary, a miso soup made of the offcuts of the sushi courses comes and goes.
Blue lipped abalone is served with a sauce of its own liver, a verdant green that could use a little more body to match the meatiness of the shellfish, but beautiful in its flavours regardless. Up next, offerings of torched tuna belly are hidden under a cress salad dressed, once more, in yuzu – an alarmingly generous portion considering we’re only half way through. Things however, reach a crescendo with one of the ocean's finest treasures, miso marinated Glacier 51 toothfish. The buttery flesh flakes away and leaves umami hits on the palate. It's a dish so exquisite in flavour and so perfectly cooked it’s a sin to leave any behind. Utilize the cucumber – pickled in, you guessed it, yuzu – and forge ahead.
Relief comes in bitter-sweet waves, as a petite bowl of lime and sake sorbet (churned just down the lane by neighbour Zini Gelato). The energy in the room has significantly relaxed while waistbands are adjusted. Despite a couple of stumbling blocks, there’s a lot to be excited about here, gorgeous flavours, truly decadent ingredients, and far from stuffy service.