A beautiful sandstone room in The Rocks’ historic Campbell’s Stores warehouse is the setting for Bay Nine Omakase. At its 10-seat counter, chefs prepare an ever-changing menu of 11 courses right in front of you, harnessing fresh seafood and a dash of theatrics for an immersive, engaging dining experience.
Yul Kim, who has been acting head chef at the eatery for the past six months, is now officially head chef, leading the omakase (“let me choose for you”) experience with a menu that might include nigiri and sashimi, marinated toothfish and tempura vegetables. He brings along experience from Sushi E, and more than 15 years as a sushi and sashimi chef in Sydney. Here’s what he has planned for his new(ish) role.
What’s your new job title?
My job title is head chef; I lead the culinary team at Bay Nine Omakase. As well as creating the hot and cold items, I also present them individually to our omakase counter diners, which is one of the great joys of the job. It gives me the opportunity to explain the produce that goes into each dish and the background on the dish’s creation, plus engage with each guest on a more personal level. Every day I’m developing new dishes based on the availability of seasonal produce, which means I work closely with our suppliers to know what ingredients are due to come into season or go out.
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Why did you decide to join Bay Nine Omakase and, more recently, take on the role of head chef?
Throughout my career I have always welcomed the opportunity to interact with diners, especially [those] who enjoy exploring new flavours. This role enables me to get that individual engagement I really enjoy, plus it allows me to be creative with dish development.
Do you have any fun plans or ideas for your role?
My vision is for Bay Nine Omakase to be the place where [food lovers] gather, a restaurant that will take good care of them while enjoying a curated menu underpinned by thoughtful intentions. I want diners to feel right at home and experience new and old flavours that trigger joy. We also want to hear their opinions and even suggestions that could inspire new dishes.
Will you bring along any dishes or ideas you’re known for?
My earlier experience has influenced my menu direction, however I’ve taken the opportunity of leading Bay Nine Omakase to become a sponge for new ideas and flavour combinations. And you learn so much from your diners in terms of what they’re looking for and that’s important to me; I want our dishes to cater to our diners’ palates.
Will we see any cool ideas or dishes that you think will particularly thrill diners?
I’m looking forward to using Tasmanian short-spine sea urchin, which comes into season in spring. We’re also one of the few restaurants that can secure “chocolate Wagyu” from Mayura Station in South Australia. It’s a full-blood Wagyu that I pair with sea urchin cream sauce for an interpretation of surf’n’turf. I’m also looking to bring back the chawanmushi (savoury egg custard) with spanner crab meat, served with crab liver sauce, which is a really gorgeous dish and was much loved when it was on the menu previously.