The air is cool but the nights are getting warmer. Spring has most certainly sprung here in Australia and Devon on Danks is embracing the changing of the seasons by tag-teaming with alcohol aficionados Young Henrys and Sakenet for a full-blown Asian inspired banquet that’s sure to leave one dizzy.
Two roads diverged are presented to us tonight. Go by the way of the La Russo-San menu for $70, or $85 for the Miyagi-san package. Number one on the banquet tonight is the raw scallop with kerabu flavours. Underneath the nest of crispy vermicelli and prawn floss lies plump scallops mixed herbs and sambal.
For first drinks, Devon has us covered with some Young Henry’s Natural Lager. It pairs perfectly with the scallop and even more so with the lobster spring rolls which is next to arrive.
The filling is unctuous, made of lobster chunks and creamy thermidor sauce. On the side is some yuzu aioli but we think it’s not necessary, especially when a huge gob of gruyere smacks you at the last mouthful. These are next level spring rolls not for the faint hearted or the lactose intolerant.
Our dutiful and knowledgeable waiter is back again, this time with a combination drink featuring the east and the west. A Young Henry’s Cloudy Cider is mixed with the Yamato No Dobu, a cloudy sake. The cider acts almost like a mixer, mellowing out the strength of the alcohol in the sake.
The third entrée arrives and it’s a Devon by Night staple, the salmon wontons. Wasabi mayo coats chunks of fresh king salmon tartare topped with tobiko and red shiso. Fried wonton skins make a far more interesting serving piece than the usual croutons or wafer thins, plus some extra crunch to boot.
Plating up next is the agedashi tofu. It’s a work of art that resembles a vegetable patch of heirloom tomatoes and pickled cucumber resting above it. The tanginess of the dressing and the added vegetables add a depth of complexity to an otherwise typical dish.
The sticky pigtails are a crowd favourite that night. Word has it that Chef Zacharay spends four days making them in a Malaysian broth known as ‘bak kut teh’, reducing it to the sticky glaze we see in front of us. It’s next level decadence especially with everybody’s favourite deep fried dough sticks. Our only complaint is that there isn’t enough of the sauce to go around, we all but manage to restrain ourselves from licking the plate clean.
Belacan fried chicken comes after with an intriguing kalamansi dipping sauce. With fried chicken being the quintessential accompaniment to beer, Devon now brings around some of Young Henry’s Real Ale. It tastes a lot more bodied than the first two Young Henry offerings.
It’s time for the main courses now as ayam percik takes centre stage. Lauded as a North Eastern style of Malay cooking, the chicken is grilled on a charcoal after being marinated in spiced coconut milk.
We’re now introduced to a new sake, the Senzo-gaeri Goriki Uchida Rice. This particular sake is a bit of a rarity as there are only 800 bottles of it made each year. It’s a fair bit more acidic than the dobu which suited us but it may not be for everyone.
More beer is brought out to go with Aunty Yulia’s Short Ribs which are coming in shortly. This time it’s a hop ale.
Treasures Beneath the Snow is another crowd pleaser because of its fluffy and smooth texture coupled with the moreish flavours of crabmeat, fungus, cured egg yolk and black vinegar.
No meal at Devon is complete without some stellar desserts. Truth has four elements, the zakura mirin, poached bear, Hokkaido style cheesecake sponge and a natto ice cream. We found that the wait staff was a little heavy-handed with the mirin. The sponginess of the cake meant that it had a tendency to soak it all up quite intensely which led to very, very boozy mouthfuls. However eating it all together results in something that is quite harmonious.
On the side we have the Junmai Umeshu Nokyo, a particularly tart plum wine with a slightly sweet finish. This tastes like the real deal, a far cry from generic umeshu found in Sydney whose sugar content borders on cruiser levels.
Arguably the best dish of the night is the nasu dengaku. In this dish, eggplant is braised in butterscotch then topped with kinako, panko and sesame crumble, adding a nuttiness that manages to substantiate the sugar hit. Bringing this all together is a miso ice cream that tastes like an umami cousin of salted caramel ice cream.
If you’re one to enjoy food and alcohol pairings, this banquet menu is one not to miss. Running currently at Devon on Danks, you have the option of two different set menus each bringing you the Devon x Young Henrys x Sakenet experience. The menus are only available during Devon by Night. Bookings are essential on 9698 7795 or [email protected]
Devon on Danks
2 Danks Street, Waterloo
Lead image supplied and used with permission. All others taken by Samantha Low