I made a 6pm reservation just in case. I figured with something on at the Palais better safe than sorry. We were delayed by traffic so actually ended up arriving closer to 6:30pm but I called in advance to advise and the hostess on the end of the phone was super friendly but she dis say they were pretty busy and would still need the table back at 8pm but she also knew we needed to be out of there 7:15 although that was a relaxed timeframe and she said they'd "make it work." There was a quite a bit of phone chatter to get to this outcome but I welcome the concern and the conversation!
When we do arrive we're welcomed like old friends and shown to a table out on the terrace with a beautiful sea view. Nice place - good for dates or with girlfriends and most of the other diners fell into these categories.
Ebi Mayo - Deep fried tiger prawns in Japanese mayonnaise
Actually wasabi mayo but not too intense. The prawns were big and meaty and encased in a crispy thin batter coating. I can see why they are popular.
Tuna Tataki - Lightly seared tuna with soy, yuzu and shallot dressing on shredded daikon
Tori Saboro - Grilled rice cake served with ground chicken and teriyaki sauce
Nasu - Grilled eggplant with sweet miso paste (unpictured)
Pork Gyoza - 6 pieces of pan fried pork Japanese dumplings served with soy ponzu sauce
Vegetable Gyoza - 6 pieces of pan fried vegetable Japanese dumplings served with soy ponzu sauce (unpictured)
Maki Roll Selection consisting of 2 of the below:
Ichi Ni Roll - Lobster, avocado, cucumber. Topped with flamed salmon sashimi and japanese mayo
Dragon Roll - Seared tuna, cucumber, avocado topped with tobiko, mayo, chilli sauce & spring onion
Espy Roll - Salmon and avocado inside out roll, topped with tempura flakes, mayo and mint jelly
The Tuna Tataki was beautifully presented with scarlet flesh surrounded by a seared perimeter. Flavour wise was also good. Texture was a little more unusual - firmer than tuna sashimi I've had previously and the seared section almost dry and tough. Not unpleasant and helped by the tasty flavours.
The Tori Saboro was actually recommended by our waitress and we were grateful we went with it. Possible the best dish. Chewy rice cake with a crispy outer edge and a spicy, savoury minced topping. Delicious. Less Japanese and more almost Sichuan or Shanghai cuisine I thought.
The Grilled Eggplant was nice enough and whilst I wasn't expecting much for $7 this really was about 4 or 5 tiny pieces (less than the size of a 20 cent coin) of eggplant per skewer. Again nice flavours - chargrilled smokiness and a sweet sauce.
The two gyoza dishes were tasty enough. Quite typical of Japanese dumplings in that they were a little soggy and juicier but I liked the fact that they both tasted different as dumplings can end up tasting the same. The veggie one was mushier and peppery with a sweetness probably because veggies need more seasoning.The pork ones were obviously meatier in flavour and texture. The ponzu sauce was more soy sauce though and didn't really have that sharp citrus tang that I expected.
When looking at the maki rolls and trying to make a choice it was the Dragon roll that appealed first but then the others sounded attractive too so for some variety it made sense to order the mixed plate. All rolls were tasty. The Ichi Ni (lobster) tasted as it should do so no surprises. The Espy roll had a distinct but subtle minty sweetness as the final flavour note that was quite pleasant as a finishing flavour. And as initially suspected it was the Dragon roll that stood out. Loved the fiery hit and the spring onion with the tuna. I'm glad we got to try all 3 but now I know I'll probably only re order the Dragon and try other things.
Ichi Ni was a good place for the occasion. I'm not desperate to return especially given the distance but if in the area I'd recommend it.