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Automata Restaurant

Home > Sydney > Fine Dining | Food and Wine
Published October 19th 2015
Japanese Fusion Cusine Meets the Matrix
First Floor Interior

After finishing up uni (just over a decade ago) we rarely venture into Chippendale. We didn't even know where Kensington Street was so naturally we walked passed the small narrow street and ended up at the Central Park Shopping Centre (known as the building with the growing vertical garden). We turn on google maps and navigated ourselves to destination and Wow! What happened here? When did little Melbourne arrive in Sydney?

On the eastern boundary of Central Park Shopping Centre is Kensington Street, the new heart of Sydney's thriving food scene and the home of the distinctive Automata, created by restaurateur Loh Lik Peng and ex-Momofuku Seibo sous chef Clayton Wells.

The exterior of the restaurant is a blend of old and new, consisting of alternate columns of heritage bricks from The Old Clare Hotel with glass panel windows, two storey high offering views into the ground floor and first floor dining space. The entrance door is camouflage with the windows – if you don't pay attention you will walk past! (sadly, we walked past..)

The interior concept has an industrial sci-fi feel, the cold hard concrete pillars are soften by the long timber communal style dining bench matched with the natural white pine chairs and funky metallic down lights (made out of car parts?).

On the ground floor you get views of the all the action in the kitchen and bar area. On the first floor, you get to dine under the linear curve of the timber panel ceiling, admire the large steel ring sculpture fixed to the concrete wall and be awestruck by the king of all industrial chandelier that looks like the matrix monster.

The Industrial Chandelier

Automata, serves a five course set menu which includes a snack and bread for $88 and pairing wines for $55, executed in a timely two hour sitting session. The menu changes regularly 'utilising the best ingredients possible at that particular time..' which make each tasting experience special.

Celery Soda, Apricot and Tonic and StrangeLove Ginger Beer

Celery Soda and Apricot and Tonic

The celery soda was surprisingly pleasant, it had a hint of celery seeds flavour with just the right amount of sweetness, enough fizz and ice in the glass to quench your thirst.

Apricot and Tonic was also pleasant, it tasted like lemon lime bitters with smashed up dried apricot, a little on the sweet side but pretty good.

StrangeLove Ginger Beer, spiced ginger beer with a lemony taste and a hint of cinnamon spice. Either you like ginger beer or you don't.

Storm Clams, Rosemary Dashi, cream and Fried Fish Skin and Yuzu Kosho

Storm Clams, Rosemary Dashi, cream and Fried Fish Skin and Yuzu Kosho

This is the 'snack' before the start of the tasting menu. The storm clams are served on bed of wakame (seaweed) with fried fish skins on the side. The fish skin looked scaly and not too appetising but they weren't too bad, tasted like seafood flavoured crisps.

The storm clams were meaty and slightly elastic in texture, soaked in glorious sweet cloudy rosemary miso flavoured broth and a dash of cream giving it a soft delicate finish. I really wished the broth came in a miso size bowl and had the wakame been seasoned, we would have devoured that too.

Smoked Eel, Leeks, Black Garlic & Thyme

automata smoked eel
Smoked Eel, Leeks, Black Garlic & Thyme

The waiter sets a bowl with cubed smoked eel pieces, leeks rounds, sliced black garlic sprinkled with thyme on the table, then returns with a glass teapot filled with clear golden broth, in which he pours into the bowl turning the dish into a delicious soup.

Savour every spoonful, each element is perfectly executed, the smokiness of the eel, the softness of the leek, subtleness of the black garlic and thyme and sweetness of the broth is ridiculously good.

It felt like a teaser, you're left hungry for more.

Our first serving of bread arrives.

Bread with Pepe Saya Butter whipped with Anchovies, chicken jus and Pipitas

automata bread
Bread with Pepe Saya Butter whipped with Anchovies, chicken jus and Pipitas

Bread and traditional butter will never taste the same ever again. Warm fluffy wholemeal bread served with Australian cultured butter by Pepe Saya jazzed up and whipped with anchovies & chicken jus topped with a sprinkle of pipitas (pumpkin seeds). The savoury nutty flavour of butter is moreish, the texture is light as air, smooth and decadent. Smother it onto your bread, you can always ask for more, we asked for 3 servings of bread!

King Prawn, Barley Miso, Purple Asparagus & Shiso

automata king prawn
King Prawn, Barley Miso, Purple Asparagus & Shiso

The king prawn was huge, perfectly charred served on a barley miso sauce with cooked purple asparagus rounds sprinkled with black seasoning. We saw the chef douse the prawn with butter as it sizzled on the bbq, bringing out the natural sweetness of the prawn whilst retaining the juice in that lovely, tender and flavoursome prawn meat.

Wagyu Tongue, Witlof, Green Sauce & Fried Capers

Wagyu Tongue, Witlof, Green Sauce & Fried Capers

Wagyu tongue served on a green sauce topped with julienned witlof and fried capers. The wagyu tongue was well seasoned, the witlof added freshness to the dish complimented with the crunch and tartness of the capers.

This wagyu tongue is so soft and delicate that it literally shrivels and melts in your mouth with minimal chewing effort, It's a strange sensation, almost freakish.

Our second serving of bread arrived half way through this dish, such a shame because the bread had gone cold and the crust is now tough, we ate it anyways saved by the butter!

The waiter came by and cleared our plates including our bread plates, Noooo! we wanted more bread…

We scouted a different waiter and asked if we could have one more serving of bread before the last dish and they obliged and we were happy.

Lamb Neck, Eggplant, Shiitake, Tamari & Brown Butter

Lamb Neck, Eggplant, Shiitake, Tamari & Brown Butter

They saved the best for last, slow cooked lamb neck served on a brown butter tamari (soy sauce) sauce topped with a shiitake mushroom, crunchy wood ear mushrooms and a quenelle of eggplant on the side.

The lamb was perfectly cooked, light pink in the centre, tender and juicy bathing in the buttery soy sauce flavour. The shiitake mushroom was soft and plump filled with that shitake mushroom juiciness, the wood ear mushroom added crunch and the eggplant quenelle complimented the whole dish with its delicious creamy goodness.

Walnut Ice-cream, Mirin & Blood Plum

Walnut Ice-cream, Mirin & Blood Plum

It's like an eton mess served in a bowl made up of warm meringue on the bottom with a dash of mirin, walnut ice-cream with hidden walnut pralines and scattered with air dried blood plums.

The first spoonful, I got some ice-cream and blood plums, wow! The texture of the ice cream was thick, creamy, smooth and velvety with a sweet nutty flavour (best ice-cream I've ever had), then the blood plum was airy in texture and very tart - a shock to the system. The second spoonful, I found some lovely walnut praline and they were really good. The third spoonful, I found some warm meringue which was welcoming then some mirin, which was bitter and tasted like sake.

You might want to request the chef to leave out the mirin and blood plum and double the ice-cream or maybe not, if you've ordered three servings of bread already…

Petite Fours

Petit fours

These cute little green jellie treats are bitter with a strong menthol taste, it will destroy your palete rather than clense it.

Automata is value for money for the unique dining experience and delicious Japanese fusion cuisine, definitely add or tick it off your bucketlist.
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Why? Amazing Japanese Fusion Cusine Tasting Menu
When: lunch from 12pm Sunday, Dinner from 6pm Wednesday to Saturday
Where: 5 Kensington Street Chippendale
Cost: From $88
Your Comment
The ginger beer sounds refreshing.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12626) 1865 days ago
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