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LuMi

  • Restaurants
  • Darling Harbour
  • price 3 of 4
  • Recommended
  1. Photograph: Anna Kucera
    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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    Photograph: Anna Kucera
  16. Photograph: Anna Kucera
    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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Time Out Says

Surrendering to Federico Zanellato’s whims and fancies at this Pyrmont jewel is one of Sydney’s finest fine-dining experiences

When Sydneysiders make a six o’clock dinner reservation, they’re often met with the sobering reality they’ll need to skedaddle at eight. (And in some cases, shockingly, even sooner.) Usually that’s perfectly achievable, assuming arrival is on time and ordering is prompt. When the offering is an elaborate tasting menu with a $195 price tag, however, it’s quite a different story.

LuMi manages to get the job done by 8.11pm, which is impressive considering there are ten courses to get through (or fourteen if you count the fusillade of single-bite snacks that starts the meal one by one). Indeed, so much happens in these splendid, and occasionally spellbinding, 131 minutes that you’ll inevitably wish you had more time to appreciate it all. The moral of the story? Book the late sitting, and take your time.

This is a brazen fine-dining restaurant, one that willfully celebrates luxury and believes in giving you what you pay for. The sort of place where a palate-cleansing dessert isn’t a puny scoop of sorbet, but a hollowed half mango filled with heavily whipped cream, finger lime pearls, cardamom granita and then sealed with scored mango sorbet. The sort of place that doesn’t think twice about following that with another heavy-handed helping of cream, this time smoothed over buffalo’s milk gelato dressed with coffee caramel and candied popcorn, then offers to finish it with shavings of in-season Spanish black truffle.

People often describe chef and co-owner Federico Zanellato’s cooking as Japanese-Italian, and the first thing that hits the table fits the bill. It looks like a piece of gunkan sushi capped with a shimmering tongue of Tasmanian sea urchin. It tastes like one, too – the rice gently vinegared, the nori sheet both crisp and toasty, the roe penetratingly pungent. Then a surprising hit of creamy stracciatella cheese intervenes and ties it all together with its milky sweetness. It’s the perfect single bite, where every element makes sense; the kind you bask in with your eyes closed.

The search for a unifying thread in the courses that follow might prove to be a challenge. Lightly cured bonito slices lolling in lime ponzu sandwiching slivers of cucumber, celery and summer’s ripest white nectarines nod to contemporary Japanese cuisine and to Zanellato’s tenure at Tokyo’s three-Michelin-starred gastronomic temple, Nihonryori RyuGin. Ludicrously soft lasagne sheets, meanwhile, speak to time spent working in Rome’s top kitchens, while the ragù-like mishmash of fermented shiitake mushrooms, porcini and sweetcorn that holds them all together turns the dial for Italian home cooking far north of eleven.

And what of the pork and shiitake mushroom pie that lands with a thud about a quarter of the way into proceedings, with enough pastry layers to stop a master pâtissière dead in her tracks? Neither Japanese nor Italian by any means, and neither is the shallow dish of jus for dipping that comes alongside. But, like everything else, it’s incontrovertibly delicious nonetheless and proves that you can do just about anything if you’re bold, and possess bucketloads of experience and technical prowess.

You could say the same about the 41-page caper of a drinks list put together by Zannellato’s wife, sommelier Michela Bocagni, where umeshu and junmai sake sit side-by-side with German riesling, big-name grower Champagne and two pages of skin-contact wines the shade of a freshly minted copper coin. That there’s plenty of joy for $85 a bottle or less, and a charmingly cheeky team that knows the ropes and is willing and able to help get you there? Well, that’s just a bonus.

Reviews of LuMi often allude to a quote – “You are confined only by the walls you create” – that’s etched onto the sliding glass doors that surround the handsomely appointed dining room. On a warm summer night you’ll find those doors flung open, and the irony isn’t lost. It's a fitting metaphor for a technically faultless dining experience with no constraints, one of the city’s very best, where the only rule seems to be that there aren’t any.

Written by Matty Hirsch

Details

Address:
56 Pirrama Rd
Pyrmont
Sydney
2009
Opening hours:
Dinner Wed-Sat 6pm-late; lunch Fri-Sun noon-3pm
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