The word omakase means ‘I leave it up to you’. When you step into most restaurants, you’re given plenty of choice, but oftentimes, it’s best to leave the decision-making to the professionals for a dining experience that’s crafted with care from start to finish.

Japanese-born Chef Hideaki Fukada is behind Sydney’s Kuon concept, which will soon encompass three restaurants: Kuon omakase, Tempura Kuon and Irori, a wood-fired, yakitori-ish venue that will launch later this year. “At first, it was just sushi, and then we opened tempura because I love it,” says Fukada. “I wanted to eat tempura, but there was nothing in Australia. Tempura is really hard; it takes a long time [to learn].”

Kuon’s footprints are found throughout the Darling Square precinct, and each venue is pocket-sized, with around 10 seats allocated per service. And there’s a very good reason for that: “I only have two hands,” says Fukada. “I want to serve high-quality
food, so I decided on very small restaurants. Quality control is really hard, particularly for the Japanese.”


Tempura Kuon is the middle sibling in the Kuon portfolio and is the first tempura-centric restaurant the city has seen. Chefs work behind a wooden counter while diners watch the majority of Fukada’s multi-course menu come to life.

The omakase begins with sunomono, a cucumber salad that sees abalone and ark shell combined with sugar snap peas, sea grapes and wakame. It’s a light, refreshing start to the multi-course meal before chawanmushi is served. Fukada’s version of the classic egg custard includes scallop, snow crab and lily flower root, resulting in a silky, savoury dish.

Two copper-clad vats are front and (almost) centre behind the bar and are filled with cold-pressed sesame oil imported from Japan. It’s changed before every service and is a costly purchase, with the oil retailing as high as $420, but the result is well worth it.


Tempura courses naturally comprise the bulk of the dining experience and each is given a salt recommendation (curry, green tea, regular). Potato mochi with crème fraiche and Osetra caviar set the bar for what’s to come. Paradise prawn head from New Caledonia is followed by the rest of the prawn before the first block is rounded out with cuttlefish and shiso and miso-marinated toothfish.

House pickles of cucumber and cabbage are snacked on in between bites, with the second tempura round commencing with zucchini flower stuffed with crab and cauliflower before a juicy Abrolhos Islands scallop.

Scampi, urchin and semi-dried persimmon are up next before sea eel appears, a sure treat for diners. “The sea eel is from Japan,” says Fukada. “You can’t get some items in Australia, but we must have sea eel for tempura. Sometimes we get it from Australia, but it’s small and can be muddy.”

Sea eel

Akadashi miso is made from a blend of Hacho miso paste, which combines soybeans with rice. Local tan oyster mushrooms are displayed to diners before they’re cut and served in the soup. The kakiage tempura don is testament to the lightness of the tempura courses.

While fried food is associated with feeling overwhelmed or full, it’s certainly not the case here. Guests can opt in for a half-boiled tempura egg or enjoy the rice bowl with prawn, broad beans and baby potato as is.

Tempura sweet potato served with house vanilla ice cream is the final piece of the Tempura Kuon puzzle, and it’s the perfect end to an experiential restaurant that sits in a league of its own.