Besuto, Sydney @ Not Quite Nigella

Besuto, Sydney @ Not Quite Nigella

When Monica and I reach Besuto, located on Loftus Avenue in Circular Quay, we are ushered into the lobby. There is a kabuki-style floor mural by Australian artist Lisa King and pink neon lights. We take the elevator up one floor where there is a Japanese Zen garden on the left and noren curtains on the right leading to the restaurant itself.

Besuto is named after the Japanese word for Best as well as the owner and chef Joel Best (this is the Japanese way of pronouncing Best where they add a vowel at the end of each syllable -be-su-to and the u is quiet). Chef Joel Best worked at The Pier in Rose Bay, Fish Face in Darlinghurst and the Boathouse on Black Wattle Bay before opening his self-described, “sublime fish’n’ chip shop concept” in Bondi called Bondi’s Best. He sold it in 2019 and opened Besuto in December 2021. Here Joel is not cheffing, he works the floor and serves sake and whiskey (his other interests besides food).

Hirofumi Fujita (left)

Joel is also in charge of buying the seafood. It starts the night before when he posts a wish list before talking to the buyers the next morning around 6-7am to see what they could buy on the auction floor or fly in directly. Then at 08:00-09:00 he goes down to the fish market to pick out the live seafood. “We buy direct from fisherman through a company called Two Hands to connect us directly to the fisherman like Chris Bolton who catches line, coral trout and kills using the ikejime method along the backbone of the fish,” says Joel. This method is said to preserve the quality of the meat. “Most of all it’s about the relationships you have with your buyers, suppliers and fisherman,” he adds.

Hirofumi Kano

But it’s chefs Hirofumi Kano and owner Hirofumi Fujita who are creating tonight’s omakase menu. Kano-san is the more outgoing of the two Hiros, posing with his face resting on his chin and smiling broadly when offering his food while Fujita-san keeps his head down. Fujita-san worked with Joel at Bondi’s Best for 10 years and has been working as a sushi chef for 25 years. Kano-san is from Kyoto and has been in Australia for over 20 years with over 30 years experience as a chef.

There are two omakase sessions: 17:30 and 20:30 and we are at the 17:30 session. Tonight it’s a series of couples or twos. Shortly after 17:30 they start the omakase and announce that tonight we will enjoy 18 courses with a flight of nigiri making up the second half of the courses. There is no printed menu as it changes every day (omakase means “I leave it to you”) and sometimes changes between sessions. On Fridays and Saturdays there are 20 courses. There is an extensive sake, umeshu and whiskey menu available and you can order a few by the glass or bottle or pair your omakase with a sake flight.


The first bite is a Gold Royal Miyagi oyster from Boomer Bay in Tasmania covered in umeshu jelly. It’s a fresh and bright start to the meal and the courses come out on time after this. Joel mentions that this oyster is a real treat as they have a very short season twice a year of about 2-3 weeks each time.


The sashimi course is next and there are four types of sashimi: coral trout, bigeye tuna, alpine salmon loin and trevally. There is a tiny marigold leaf on one and a dab of pickled plum with shiso on the Alpine salmon (a sustainable salmon from Mount Cook in NZ) which adds a burst of flavor to the delicious salmon. They use an 18-year soy combined with dashi stock for the sashimi (as well as seasonings from some of the nigiri).


“Chawamushi! Chawanmushi!” Monica sings excitedly and then a tray of chawanmushi appears. The small bowl of salty egg custard is topped with hand-picked mud crab from Queensland, lobster from South Australia, sea urchin from Tasmania and ikura salmon roe topped with garlic flowers. The mud crab is smooth and sweet with the silky egg custard and it’s a dish that’s all about textures and subtle flavors.


The next course is a kataifi pastry wrapped tiger prawn with a bunch of tomato sauce. Although I love the idea, I prefer when deep-fried food is freshly fried so that it is hot and very crunchy when it comes out, making the crispness more pronounced. The bush tomato sauce is sour like a tomato chutney.


An abalone course is next and features abalone with rice and an abalone liver sauce. The abalone is soft and the rice is a comforting element and a nice contrast to the stronger liver flavor.


The next course is a favorite – it’s Patagonian toothfish marinated in yuzu miso for 24 hours, served with a square of pickled daikon that looks like a flower. Toothfish is a delicious fish that goes well with this classic white miso marinade, but we like the extra touch of yuzu in the marinade.

Pork belly

While most omakase menus serve the larger courses towards the end, here they start with the larger courses and progress to the smaller nigiri sushi courses. One of my favorites is the Kakuni or slow cooked pork belly which is all delicious ginger flavors served with parsley puree, squash and okra. It melts in the mouth and I would eat a whole plate of this.


Our last meat course is next and it’s a very special treat. This is A5 wagyu from Kagoshima which is an amazing marbled wagyu served with king mushroom and Yakiniku sauce. It’s so rich you can’t have much and since we’re less than half way through our meal it’s a judicious size.

Chef Kano brings out a display of sashimi and shows it to each couple at the table. This is the beginning of the nigiri courses that are Chef Fujita’s area of ​​expertise. The first is a toro covered with a N25 caviar pearls. It is harvested in the Yunnan province of China at 25° north latitude (hence the name). This is a Kaluga Hybrid caviar harvested after 19 years. “We are fighting with Crown casino to get this caviar,” says Joel. Diners are encouraged to use their hands for the nigiri courses.

This is followed by nigiri courses Alfonsino (also known as red bream or imperador) which can usually be a bit chewy in texture, but here it is soft and delicious. Then there’s a squid course topped with sea urchin sauce. It joins Snapper nigiri with dried kombu and plum chilli paste and grated mullet roe.

Miso soup

With the nirigi there is a course of miso soup with chopped mizuna which gives the miso soup an attractive freshness.

The Garfish nigiri is beautiful with the streak of silver skin on top and paired with grated ginger to complement the strongly flavored fish. Each nigiri is individually seasoned to bring out the flavor of the fish.

We’re nearing the end when Chef Kano hands over a hand roll filled with aged bluefin tuna with sea urchin wrapped in nori which is a great course to precede the final nigiri, a lightly seared and fatty slice of Alpine salmon with applesauce. And although we are done with our savory courses, it is the perfect end to this evening that feels very special and full of goodies.

Tamago omelette

The tamago or egg omelette is the first sweet “dessert” course that bridges the gap between salty and sweet.

Yuzu sake sorbet

And our last course is the yuzu sorbet with freshly grated lime peel. This yuzu-shu sake blend was created especially for Besuto by Zini gelato below. They take down a bottle of yuzu sake every day and they churn it in their $40,000 gelato machine every day. Usually I have a spoonful of sorbet, but this is so refreshingly delicious that I finish every bit of this.

So tell me Dear Reader, will you like this meal where it’s up to the chef? Have you ever tried an omakase?

NQN and Monica were guests of Besuto but all opinions remain her own.


6 Loftus Ln, Sydney NSW 2000

Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 17:30–23:00

Closed Monday & Tuesday

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