The Japanese European food we’ve been waiting for.
You know how sometimes we don’t know what we need until it arrives. So it is with Blanca, the Bondi Beach love child of Tomi Björck (Finland) and Sam Cole (Wollongong). They describe their food as showing how elegant European flavors work together with Japanese cooking using the best Australian produce. In other words, friggin delicious! The ‘mod scandi’ white with a bit of black fit out is warm and inviting too.
Snacking items come first. The crunchy cracker is the perfect foil for salmon tartare with the richness of the dashi mayo, anchovy bagna cauda and bottarga. And the cracker doesn’t break before it gets to my mouth! The oxtail dumpling is a heady mix of roasted beef, oxtail, black vinegar dressing, sesame and pickled chilli. I’m licking up every last scrap of the broth in that bowl. Can I just order twelve of these and be done with dinner?
The eye-catching Blanca Black Bun is a squid ink coloured bao bun, holding some crispy soft shell crab, XO mayo and spicy red cabbage, very moreish. No doubt its about to be famous on instagram.
The Share Plates
It’s an extensive menu of share plates, so we decide to focus on more seafood. We beg them to slow down the parade of plates a bit but to seemingly deaf ears. Scallops are served while I blink, and boy are they lovely. The meaty mix of roast chicken dashi, kombu butter, chives and avruga might overwhelm a subtle scallop but not here, it is perfectly balanced.
Floating in saffron butter, basil, bottarga and black garlic, the grilled king prawns are gone in a flash. These guys are not afraid to pump up the flavour and we’re loving it.
The only down side is all the dishes so far have been served in less than an hour from our arrival, in a non stop speed eating rush. At this point they finally take note of our request to slow it down and we have a good gap from there till our final savoury dish. If they can sort out the speed thing then this place will be nigh on perfect.
Enjoying having time to peruse the wine list again while we chat, we get to our final protein. It’s a delicious grilled squid, nested on on a bed of shallot confit, fennel puree, yuan, yoghurt, shiso, and almonds. Yet another bowl that needs a finger-licking wipe to get all the good stuff up.
To dessert or not?
What a silly question!. We’ve enjoyed our break and we’re ready for dessert. ‘Matcha Tea, Strawberry and Shiso’ dessert is a tangy mess of matcha tea mousse, strawberry sorbet, almond cake, shiso and pistachio and surprisingly light on the stomach.
The Best Bits: Not afraid of strong flavours. Innovative dishes. Great service
The Worst Bits: A very speedy kitchen, as we finish one dish the next one is arriving, giving us no time to peruse the wine list or anything else!
Where am I: Blanca, 75-79 Hall St, Bondi Beach, NSW 2026, Australia