New Executive Chef Jamie Kang uses Japanese and Korean influences in a delightfully light yet fulfilling menu. A more casual influence than the original Level One launch, there is a distinctly sophisticated edge which aligns with the stunning dining room which glows with candlelight. Adelaide Food Central was invited to last week’s new menu launch and this is an all round menu I can’t talk up enough.
We started the evening with Tuna Sashimi, diced premium quality tuna topped with avrugar, shallot, yuzu soy and for that little extra indulgence some gold powder. Incredibly indulgent the flavours are soft and delicate, encouraging you to feel the savour the textures as much as the flavour. Savouring this dish paired with a glass of champagne this dish makes you feel like royalty.
There are two types of Tataki on the cold selections menu. The Japanese preparation involves lightly searing the outside of the protein and serving it in fine slices; in this case we tried Kingfish Tataki served with asparagus, grapefruit and shallot. The Kingfish slices are finished with a rub that has familiar peppery warmth that I can’t put my finger on – pastrami I’m told after a long ponder.
The Veal Tataki is complemented with dehydrated blood plum, pickled cucumber, carrot and pear. Both dishes show restraint and elegance. Just a few components in each dish work in harmony with the proteins, creating a beautiful start to a meal and allowing the palate to prepare for what is to come.
Pan-Seared Scallops with itogaki, miso cream and burnt onion salsa. Delicate creamy scallops are topped with a light benito style flakes of tuna that are slightly smoky and adds saltiness and crunch to the scallop. Finished with a miso cream and a salsa of burnt onion that is rich adding a depth tho the otherwise light flavours.
As you bite into the Salmon Aburi the brick of toasted sushi rice has an audible crunch. It forms the foundation for the two salmon components; a creamy, herby studded tartare of finely diced fish, topped with a piece of gently torched pink salmon. Biting into the Aburi is a textual delight. The soft fish gives into a creamy centre and then the most wonderful crunch at the base.
A Fried Octopus tentacle has been steamed for 2 hours before being deep fried. This results in very tender meat served whole, plated with gochujang aioli and pickled yellow beetroot. The Korean red chilli aioli delivers a gentle heat which is offset by the astringent beet delivering a complex, satisfying dish.
The Crumbed Pig Bits can be a challenge for those who don’t embrace the nose to tail philosophy. They should just accept the dish as “Pig Bits” and enjoy it. For those do – pig bits are made from the head and face of the pig, boiled down to create gelatinous softy meat. Served piping hot they are mouth sized bombs of porky goodness that explodes in the mouth. The very crispy cubes are topped with a dollop of mustard mayo and fried sage leaf. Mustard and pork is a heavenly combination and just what is needed to liven up the rich, molten filling inside.
Korean inspired Chicken Wings have a thick, sticky coating that is a little sweet, a little sour and a little messy. Maybe it’s because I can’t contain myself when it comes to wings but I was finding bits of rogue sauce all over my face after these wings. It wasn’t just the sauce that lingered but also a mild full-mouth heat that retained far longer than any hot buffalo wing I’ve had of late.
Large squares of ravioli filled with ricotta comprise the Shitake Ravioli. The various mushrooms are really showcased in the dish, the pasta just melting into the background supporting the earthy flavours. A Miso cream dresses the pasta, just coating the parcels with its velvety sauce.
The Wagyu Rump is served sliced so you immediately see the beautiful pink in the middle of each piece. When tasted it is the char on the outside that stands out in the rich flavoured meat. It goes without saying that the Wagyu is very tender. An Asian style chimichurri sauce, generous in its proportion of coriander circles the plate. A smear of black garlic paste adds complexity and depth.
A substantial main of Pork Racks and Belly BBQ in Korean spicy chilli sauce rounded off our dinner for the evening. The melt in the mouth pork has caramel notes that underlie the mild bit of the cooking sauce. It is served on rice, with fennel, orange and celery heart and garnished with spring onion bringing a fresh crunch to the hearty meal.
There are a few sides on offer and these really need mention because they are stand out dishes on their own.
The Cabbage Slaw maintains the recurring Japanese influence we have enjoyed through this menu. A Japanese inspired dressing coats shredded cabbage, carrot and onion – light and fragrant. No heavy mayonnaise dressings here just freshness and crunch to accompany your mains.
The Snowed Corn were delicious bites of sweet corn kernels with a creamy binding. Finished with shavings of firm ricotta and a seven flavour chilli pepper called Togarashi. Teriyaki mayonnaise and the chilli complement the corn. Quite possibly the tastiest corn dish I have ever had.
There has been a recent revolution when it comes to Asian style desserts. Once restricted to a banana fritter, fried ice cream or a gelatinous rice pudding. The Black Sesame Sponge takes the cake (pun intended), with its intoxicating sesame sponge that dances on the palate with its decidedly savoury tones. The sweetness is picked up with a blood orange sorbet, chocolate shards, miso cream and marmalade. The dessert, designed to look like an erupting volcano certainly explodes with flavour.
There is currently no ingredient trendier than Matcha. The green tea powder flavours an airy light chiffon cake in the Matcha Chiffon. Paired with mascarpone, fresh strawberries, parfait and red berry paste this is a great way to jump on the Match bandwagon and see what everyone is talking about.
Coconut Sorbet Crème Patisserie with candied figs and champagne granita were housed in a chocolate dome nestled on a coconut sorbet. Smashing the ball reveals the hidden ingredients that have delightfully light, clean flavours that round off the evening to perfection.
There’s lots of variety in this Asian inspired menu from Chef Jamie Kang. One after the other, each dish was just as enjoyable as the last. The presentation, the execution and most importantly, the taste, were all on point. It’s the higher end of casual dining at its best.
Adelaide Food Central would like to thank all the staff at Level One for their kind hospitality. It was definitely a night to remember.
Words by Kate Wilkinson
WHERE: Level 1, 131-139 King William St, Adelaide