Chef Haru Inukai has an impressive resume - he's trained under culinary legends like France's Joel Robuchon, cooked for Keanu Reeves and has spent the last few years as executive chef at Galileo, the Observatory hotel's restaurant, creating a fusion of French and Japanese cuisine.
Now, he has struck out on his own, leaving the gilded cage of hotel dining to open his own bistro. We're guessing BlancHaru is pronounced like a combo of the French word for white and Inukai's first name. The décor is easier to fathom at any rate. Tucked under apartments on the former Simmone Logue/Tryst bistro site, it's a bright, cleanly decorated room looking out over Elizabeth Bay Road's passing parade. Food-wise, we were hoping for something like Tetsuya's-goes-bistro, putting Inukai's Japanese chops to the fore in a French frame, but the reality is much closer to a straight Sydney bistro menu with the odd Japanese touch.
Yuzu, the Japanese citrus, spikes a cream sauce with cured salmon; the raw tuna is tagged ‘tataki' rather than carpaccio. Open now for about a month, service is well-meaning enough, but somewhat frustrating when it comes to essentials such as filling water and wine glasses and offering bread. For value, have the degustation - $65 for four courses ordered from the a la carte menu. A good duck terrine is one of life's pleasures - a fiesta of duck captured in its own fat, spread on pieces of warm toast. Here, the terrine tastes a little heavy on the liver and slightly pasty and served with grissini rather than bread. Spreading terrine on a bread stick is like trying to walk a tightrope wrapped in a wet doona - interesting but somewhat impractical. So you've got your terrines, gravlaxes, soupes du jour and seared scallops - all the usual suspects - but then all of a sudden you're hit with a flammenküche. It's a bit like a tarte flambé (the traditional Alsatian dish of incredibly light short pastry spread with cheese, caramelised onion and dotted with bacon). It's a huge serve with a fairly heavy pastry base and much too large as a course in a deg.
Tajima wagyu, for a $35 supplement on the degustation, is super rich and tender, topped with a pat of wasabi butter - not burn-your-sinuses-hot but still distinctly horseradish-y. I'd think twice before ordering it off the regular menu - $80 for 300 grams - ouch. Coconut and champagne soup is served in a half coconut shell with chunks of banana floating about in it. You could say the presentation lacks aesthetics. In fact, you could say it's downright ugly. But it's tasty - a panna cotta sits like a wobbly island in a sweet light, coconut broth - though they could stand to lose the banana.
The crème brulee is no slouch, either. It's shallow so there's no wading through inches of cold custard. It's not something we'd be quick to call a destination restaurant, so don't scramble the jets just yet. With a bit more oomph in the menu and some staff better versed in the essentials of service, this will be a great addition to E-Bay.
1/21 Elizabeth Bay Road