Many years ago a work colleague of mine introduced me to Sono, a fantastic Japanese restaurant above Tattersalls Arcade, off the Queen Street Mall. We spent many lunch hours dining on delicious bento boxes and sipping the occasional sake. In 2007, Sono opened their second restaurant at Portside, a location known for its trendy restaurants and boutique shops.
In spite of the fact that I was living in a nearby suburb at the time, I never took the opportunity to visit Sono Portside. Recently, EatDrinkBrisbane was invited to sample Sono Portside’s new a la carte menu, and I was lucky enough to be sent along to check things out.
As my brother-in-law “C” is also a huge fan of Japanese cuisine, I invited him to come along. We were greeted at the door and escorted to our table, where we removed our shoes before sitting (a traditional element in some Japanese restaurants). Our table was located by the glass windows overlooking the Brisbane River, affording us a great view as we caught up.
I find that many of the restaurants at Portside have a very busy, energetic atmosphere. Sono, however, exudes an incredible peaceful and welcoming vibe. We immediately began to relax, aided by the infallibly polite and friendly staff, who happily answered our questions and offered their own personal recommendations on what to try from the menu.
As suggested by our waitress Masami, we decided to go with the Tasting Course ($85/person), and the optional matching wines (+$45/person). We were also encouraged to try the Sake options with each of the dishes – we were happy to comply!
After a brief wait, the Appetizer Platter was served with a glass of the Ranman Reiryo Sake. Each item on the platter was a superb introduction of what was to come. The Fresh Oyster in Lime Sauce had a creaminess that combined well with a touch of salmon roe, as the roe gently popped inside your mouth. The citrus soy sauce and chilli grated radish brought forth the earthy taste of the seared wagyu, and the Soft Shell Crab Karaage with Shiso Salsa still defies my attempts to accurately describe its balance of delicious flavours with the light crispiness of the fried crustacean.
All of this was highlighted by the Ranman Reiryo Sake: the smoothness and light melon tones in it provided the perfect accompaniment to each of these dishes. I have tried various Sakes over the years, both in Japan and in a number of Japanese restaurants in Australia, but this would have to be my new favourite… a sentiment echoed by C. If you ever get a chance to try this Sake chilled, do yourself a favour and sample it!
The first entree arrived shortly after we had consumed our appetizers, and consisted of the Tuna and Salmon Sashimi and Snapper Carpaccio with shallots, sesame seeds, and garlic vinaigrette. The tuna and salmon was incredibly fresh and of fantastic quality. The Snapper Carpaccio, with its “lotus flower” presentation, was a surprise of smooth texture and subtle flavours. The complementing glass of Mitchell Watervale Riesling (2009) was delicate enough to not overpower the sashimi.
The second entree was the Fresh Crab Meat Croquette and Scampi Spring Roll, served with a glass of Giant Steps Sexton Chardonnay (2008). Though the dish was nicely presented, the scampi spring roll was the champion here, full of flavour and crispy texture. The croquette’s crispy exterior contained a very creamy filling, although it had very little flavour in comparison.
The third entree made up for this though; being a selection of sushi: Prawn Tempura Sushi Roll, Fish Tempura Sushi Roll, and a Seared Salmon Belly Sushi, drizzled with mayonnaise, sea salt and avocado. All of the sushi was fresh. I also liked that I was given a set of rolls that I normally wouldn’t order.
For our mains, I chose the South Qld Kobe Cuisine Wagyu striploin MB6 Steak with garlic soy Jus, and C set his sights on the NSW Duck Breast Teriyaki orange sauce… and neither of us were disappointed! My requested medium-rare striploin came out perfectly and then proceeded to ‘dissolve’ upon my tongue. The accompanying parsnip and long beans gave the dish quite a western feel, but the meat was so good that I really didn’t care. C’s duck breast was also a source of delight, being tender and juicy while the sauce was not at all overpowering (an all too often occurrence I find with an orange sauce).
Just as we were discussing the great quality of the food and the attentive service over a glass of red, the “Chef’s selection” dessert was delivered in the form of Gateua au Chocolat with Vanilla Bean ice cream. While I was eager to dive in, C reminded me of his allergy to chocolate…but the situation was quickly remedied by Masami bringing out a replacement dessert for C – the Dessert Duo.
The Dessert Duo was a visual feast compared to my Gateua au Chocolat, served in a clamshell-shaped bowl filled with ice, upon which rested two glass eggs. One egg was spilt in two: one half filled with custard pudding with burnt toffee sauce, the other with vanilla bean ice cream. The second egg contained a citrus yoghurt mousse with strawberry sauce and apple jelly. C very generously allowed me enough of a taste from each to spend the rest of our time wishing that I had said I was allergic to chocolate too!
Sono Portside would have to be one the finest Japanese restaurants in Brisbane. They have hit the balance between great food, fantastic service and a beautiful dining environment, an achievement that any restaurant would be proud of. I will definitely be returning there soon, and would highly recommend Sono Portside to anyone who loves a fine Japanese dining experience.
Portside Wharf (opposite Dendy Cinema)
Hamilton QLD 4007
(07) 3268 6655
EatDrinkBrisbane were guests of Sono Portside. Thank you, Sono! This was an unpaid review.