We first visited Sono on our one year anniversary (5 years ago this Saturday). The Brisbane City restaurant was our introduction and you could say we’ve been hooked every since. What started as a special occasion restaurant soon turned into a regularly frequented establishment. It didn’t help our addiction when a Sono opened a few minutes away from us at Portside wharf, Hamilton. Sono Portside is on the second floor, boasting river views and is decorated in traditional Japanese style complete with private rooms with rice paper-like walls. The staff are very friendly and efficient and the food is always fresh, gorgeously presented and delicious.
We are creatures of habit when we visit Sono so unfortunately you won’t get to see too much of the menu but I guarantee that if you like meat and Japanese food, this is all you need to order.
Seeing as I was blogging the meal I thought I would actually read the menu (we normally just order). Given my serious obsession with scallops at the moment I decided to give them a go. Will thought they were a little under-cooked but I thought they were cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection. The miso mayonnaise was the perfect accompaniment although I’m not to sure about the cherry tomatoes. I think they could have used something a little more Japanese.
Gyoza is a regular on our order. They are so delicious I even tried to make them at home. The tender pork is wrapped in a soft dumpling wrapper and lightly pan-fried to give it a crispy side. Yum yum yum!
The star of our meal and the reason we keep coming back is the Wagu beef Sukiyaki. I need a much bigger vocabularly to describe how good this is. I must mention that mum makes one at home that is fantastic but sorry mum Sono still wins.
First, the waitstaff set a camping stove on the table and a Japanese pot is placed on top. The waiter starts it off for you cooking some of the vegetables then adding the Sukiyaki sauce and then you’re left to cook the rest of it yourself. Well most of the time you’re left to cook it yourself. We had a very entertaining experience on Saturday night. They are always very friendly and attentive but on this particular occasion we didn’t even have to put an item in the pot ourselves. It seems the camera and me asking a crazy number of questions gave us VIP status. I started to get the giggles after someone came over for about the 7th time to check the temperature and put something in the pot for us and when our vege plate came out with tofu (we asked for no tofu extra veges) they took it out and replaced it with about $20 worth of mushrooms. I was in mushroom heaven (the edible, legal type!).
The pot looked like this the whole time… never an empty spot!
You have to order Sukiyaki for at least two people and each person also gets a bowl of miso soup, a bowl of rice and an egg to dip the meat in. Don’t mock the egg until you try it cause it makes something so scrumptious even better.
I promise I wasn’t playing with my food. The three mushrooms in the middle landed that way and when all I had to do was move the cabbage and one mushroom to make this little guy I couldn’t resist. It still makes me giggle.
I haven’t ever had dessert at Sono as I’m not a huge fan of Asian-style desserts but I took one for the team so I could give the full report. It was a very nice combination of flavours and the vanilla icecream was creamy and had the essential black vanilla bean dots but I think, as the Masterchef judges would say, it was missing the crunchy element. It was still very yummy and I managed to clean off the whole leaf without too much difficulty.
I finished the meal off with a Japanese green tea. It was the perfect balance and not to bitter like some green teas can be. If you’re a rum drinker, Will says that the Bundaberg rum and coke that they serve at Sono is the best. I have no idea what they do to it but a few people have agreed it’s something special (make sure you request Bundaberg rum though).
The private rooms at Sono can be booked for up to ten people and are perfect for a special occasion. If you’re wondering if you get ignored when you’re in a private room don’t worry. They have a little buzzer that lights up your door and a waiter attends to you pretty quickly. Just make sure you don’t wear embarrassing socks or smelly shoes because it’s a no-shoe policy at the sunken table. They’re also not great for anyone who’s not very mobile as you have to be able to get down to floor level to sit. If you’re interested, make sure you book a few weeks in advance as they’re very popular.
The next best thing to the private rooms are the window seats. They’re also sunken tables so the same shoe-removal and basic flexibility applies. Again make sure you book in advance. In case you’re wondering why it’s so empty on a Saturday night, we booked late and could only get an 8.45pm seating so we were almost the last to leave and the restaurant had been re-set.
Although at the higher end of the price scale, Sono restaurant is well worth a visit. The friendly, attentive waitstaff, beautifully presented, fresh food and gorgeous setting make it a very special restaurant.
Sono restaurant is located at Portside wharf, 39 Hercules Street, Hamilton. Bookings can be made through their website or on 3268 6655. They also have a restaurant in the Brisbane CBD.