Jackie McMillan
12th Jul 2023

Everything in Darren Templeman’s 23-year Australian cooking journey has led to this: Izy.Aki a 22-seater facing Cadmans Cottage in The Rocks. The 7-course set menu ($160/person) opens with a nod to Templeman’s British roots: an English crumpet dressed with raw Yamba prawns, wakame, pomelo and fresh Tasmanian wasabi. The closer, a Hokkaido cheese cake soufflé, combines the strong French technique he arrived here with, and a milky cheesiness that is quintessentially Japanese. The airy perfection of the soufflé takes me straight back to his time at Restaurant Atelier. 

Hiramasa kingfish is teamed with Japan’s fruit obsession: white strawberries, though these are Australian grown exemplars from Gippsland. Dressed in red onion and black garlic extract, they hide a round of dashi-poached daikon, funkiness cut by pickled sesame leaf. Chawanmushi, served at room temperature to ensure the custard plays second fiddle to king crab and Sevruga caviar, is somewhat of a signature, honed at O Bar and Sergeant Lok. The latter was also where Templeman began messing with mochi, perfected with Tasmanian Désirée potatoes hiding a soft chook cartilage interior. The golden ball is served with a triple-reduced chicken broth with jicama and lions mane mushrooms. 

Behind the bar, Aurélien Jeffredo warms up the sandstone surrounds with his smile, and gets the best wasabi-based cocktail—wasave ($22)—I’ve had into my hands. Uniting minty notes from Olmeca Altos Plata tequila with fresh wasabi, agave nectar and pressed lime, this cocktail is a clever upgrade for the ‘spicy Marg’ set. The rest of the booze list is still developing; Tae no Hana 'Yamahai' sake ($52/150ml) had too much cocoa for me and felt over-priced. It did suit hibachi-grilled garfish and burnt fennel in a split sauce made from the bones, richness cut by soy tomatoes. It’s followed by a celebration of the chook—a yakitori selection drawn from the 28 different cuts you can take from a single bird—alongside tongue and chuck from Black Opal wagyu 8-9 MBS. Against Japanese and Tasmanian wasabi, kombu-infused soy, yuzu koshu and umeboshi it’s an interesting, if vegetable-deficient, conclusion to this kappo meal where your connection to the chef is guaranteed.