1-65 Woolley Street Dickson, Australian Capital Territory 2602
|Opening hours||Daily 11am-10pm,|
|Features||BYO, Licensed, Wheelchair access, Vegetarian friendly|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Chef||Duncan Leung and Jimmy Zhao|
|Payments||Cash, eftpos, Mastercard, Visa|
|Phone||02 6262 6669|
Well this is unexpectedly suave for Dickson - all black marble, glittery mirrors and big black leather cubes to sit on. A bar runs down the back. It looks like a nightclub. We’re greeted by a slim-hipped young man dressed in black. Are you sure this is an Asian restaurant?
It’s called Grill and Sizzle Fusion and it sits on Woolley Street in a big space that used to house Jimmy’s Kitchen (don’t worry, Jimmy’s has moved down the street next to the Blockbuster). It purports to be Japanese but we can hear Cantonese in the kitchen. At the end of the day that doesn’t matter, it’s how the food tastes. So we look at the menu and there’s a lot to choose from. There is a whole section of sashimi and sushi. There is a pleasing number of grilled dishes. There is also a small section of pasta - evidently the “fusion” section of the menu.
But first, crispy chicken pieces ($15.80 for two) are very tender, beautiful chicken pieces in a good, crisp deep fried shell. There’s an interesting dipping sauce that appears to be a mixture of mayonnaise and roe, a little bit tart and sweet. The only minor problem is that the chicken pieces are too big to fit into the little sauce dish. It’s a promising start.
Ox tongue skewers ($12.80 for two) announce their presence at the table with a strong waft of smoke and beef. They could be chewy but instead they’re tender, flavoursome and have a hint of char from the grill. This time the dipping sauce is a simple sweet soy with a little citrus and garlic. The only thing that mars this dish is that one or two pieces are unevenly seasoned and way too salty.
Now here comes the rather grandiose main course - a huge sashimi set ($42.80) in a glass bowl filled with ice and lemon slices and topped with a martini glass bearing a crown of salmon and roe. It’s the most primped thing I’ve seen in a martini glass since Dita von Teese - all a bit over the top. But presentation cannot hide the fact that sashimi has to be fresh and this is surprisingly excellent. Scallops are juicy and sweet, slices of tuna are pleasingly dark and thick, and the generous curls of salmon have quite a bit of flavour. Oysters are dotted around this seafood landscape and they’re briny and fairly sweet. There are even meaty tricolour slices of clam and short chunks of octopus leg. The latter are a great idea but too dry. Kingfish and roe are much more subtle. It’s not high end Sydney harbour sashimi - but everything tastes fresh and for a suburban Asian restaurant in Canberra, it’s very good and there is a wide array of seafood.
After that dish there is a lot for the bacon-wrapped oyster meat skewers ($8.80) to live up to. They are not up to the task. The bacon is limp and the oysters, perhaps through the smoke from the grill, seem a little bitter. It’s not our favourite dish today. But a plate of grilled eel with rice ($16.80) returns to form. The eel is gelatinous, black, sticky and softly charry. It’s sweet and smoky and falling apart, perfect for scooping up with the rice and a wedge of cold omelette. A small salad adds crunch and a bowl of miso soup completes the dish. It would be a perfectly good lunch in its own right.
And to finish up is a dish we’d ordered purely out of curiosity and nearly forgotten about. The angel hair pasta with garlic and greens ($14.80) is one of three pasta dishes on the menu. Is it really an attempt at fusion cuisine or merely there to placate the fussy children who won’t eat anything unusual? It turns out to be a bowl of angel hair tossed through a generous helping of garlicky mushrooms, broccoli and leafy greens and dusted heavily with parmesan. Your nonna would probably be aghast but it's basically Asian noodles with plenty of veggies and cheese and that’s not in itself terrible. It’s just not very Italian.
There is a couple of desserts on the menu - a mochi cheesecake, a chocolate cheesecake, and scoops of green tea, red bean or sesame ice-cream (all $6.80). The mochi dessert is the most intriguing of the lot and turns out to be a mini cheesecake with a layer of crumb base, a layer of filling and a top layer of mochi which is vaguely glutinous but too similar to the cheesecake filling to be much distinguished. The ice-cream is OK.
Still, we stumble out into the busy Dickson street stuffed to the gills and a little bewildered by what we’ve just eaten. Grill and Sizzle is a very pleasant surprise with more than a few well executed dishes, particularly the items from their grill, and a sashimi platter that far exceeds what you’d expect from a suburban restaurant. We’d go back.