Tag Archives: Sydney Japanese

Sushi e, Establishment, Sydney CBD

I’ve been to Sushi e more times than I can count over the years. It is seriously good Japanese. But it also comes with an accompanying serious price tag. If you don’t mind that, pull up a seat at the bar if you’re on your own or with a friend; or grab a table for four or six; or, if you feel like settling in for a while, take a seat on one of the plush lounges at the adjacent Hemmesphere and kick back – its quite easy to pass several hours there, with the dulcid tones of Al Green, or other great music from the Hemmesphere CD selection, in the background, cocktail in hand.

Over time, I’ve probably worked my way through most of the menu. I always order the sashimi, it is first rate, and the delicious prawn shumai with the ponzu sauce. I could eat trays of the shumai, but at a hefty $18.50 for six, one tray has to do (Shaun Presland, who started here, also does a similar version at Sake). One dish I hadn’t tried before which I really liked was the crab san choy bow – recommended.

But….I don’t know what was going on with the kitchen that day, but we had to repeatedly ask for our food – we were about to keel over with starvation. Kitchen mix up, our dishes went to other tables, we had all sorts of profuse apologies, we got there in the end but it was a dampener on an otherwise excellent meal – I hope it was just a one off.

Assorted Sashimi
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Prawn shumai
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Soft shell crab san choy bow
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Salmon belly
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Salt roasted duck breast with sansho pepper, ginger, shallots and baby broccolini
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Grilled scampi finished with a spicy lemon garlic sauce, sautéed baby spinach
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Beef tataki with soy dressing
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And a little complimentary dessert, panna cotta
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Sushi e, Level 4, Establishment, 252 George Street, Sydney ph (02) 9240 3000
http://merivale.com.au/sushie

Sushi E on Urbanspoon

Ocean Room, Circular Quay, Sydney

Ocean Room is in a stunning harbourside location at Circular Quay. As I’ve said before, I’m a bit dubious about restaurants with Sydney harbour views, they tend to think they can get away with a bit on the food.  But this was a work function, and as I’ve been wanting to try Ocean Room for a while, it was a great excuse to check it out.

We were in a private room upstairs, magnificently encased in glass and showing off Sydney perfectly, but I noticed the downstairs layout was very spacious with a nice combination of tables and booths, and would be a very pleasant place to sit.

The menu was set for us that night, but given an overall good experience, I’d certainly come back and go a la carte, or try the 10 course tasting menu which looked quite good for $120. As I walked out I saw the kitchen dishing up plates of sushi and sashimi which looked like fantastic quality.

On our menu that evening:

Tasting Plate – Wasabi prawn with wasabi aioli, Pacific Oyster with tomato water jelly, and tuna tartare with soy pearls. This was beautiful, especially the oyster with the refreshing tomato water.  Actually the prawn was pretty fantastic too.

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Ocean Barramundi Fillet, with Sake steamed clam butter.  The skin was a little chewy. The clam butter was surprisingly light.

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Black Angus tenderloin with Tasmanian pepper jus.  A knockout piece of meat, and although it supposedly came with a jus, I felt like having a Manu-where’s-the-sauce moment.  There could have been better accompaniments than a bunch of cress and a squashed potato.

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Chocolate tasting plate – mousse, chocolate mud & pistachio, and opera cake.  I’m not big on chocolate desserts, but I really enjoyed this.

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Worth a visit if you’re in need of some harbourside beauty to accompany your meal, particularly on a sparkling summer day.

Ocean Room, Ground Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, Sydney Ph (02) 9252 9585

Ocean Room on Urbanspoon

Azuma, Sydney

An unexpected dinner invitation to Azuma came my way, so who was I to say no. I get the occasional sashimi or sushi takeaway from there, but haven’t dined in for a full meal for quite some time. It was the $68 banquet, which began with some edamame and ended with a custard.

The highlights – the carpaccio (great dressing), the sushi (excellent), and the duck (tender)

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The middlelights (my own word) – the tempura, after being spoilt by the fabulous tempura at Sokyo; the noodles, which were much improved with the proffered hit of cayenne pepper; and the custard which was lovely, but I’m glad they served the brown sugar syrup on the side as it overpowered.

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The low lights – the chicken with teriyaki which was fatty and too sweet, and the wagyu which was not as tender as you’d expect wagyu to be and a little dry

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Azuma used to be the benchmark in Japanese in Sydney, with the appropriate level of hattedness. But what has happened over time is that the Japanese offering in our fair city has just gotten better and better, and we are now very spoilt for choice. The sushi and sashimi here is still solid, but the cooked dishes don’t have the deftness you’ll find at Sake or Sokyo or Ume. But this may have also been the result of what was part of the banquet, without the ability to fully explore the rest of the menu.

Azuma, Level 1, Chifley Plaza/2 Chifley Square, Sydney, ph (02) 9222 9960

Azuma on Urbanspoon

Sokyo @ Star

Do you remember when Star City looked like a backwater RSL? These days its all fancy-pants, complete with a spate of GFG hatted restaurants, including Momofuku, Black by Ezard, Balla, as well as The Century (a spin off of Golden Century), and a ‘desert train’ (!) by Zumbo. And yes, I have been to all of them.

Sokyo = Sydney+Tokyo – is not in the dining precinct of Star City, but in The Darling, its adjoining hotel, which apparently, ladies, has a seriously awesome day spa (males please note). This is my third Sokyo visit and I’m really looking forward to it, hoping it was as good as I’d remembered. We are ushered down some stairs, a section of the restaurant I didn’t know about, but it’s quite nice and private down there, and a little quieter. You do feel like you’re not in the thick of it, but in the main restaurant area it does get very very noisy. They’ve got this strange countless-ropes-hanging-from-ceilings thing going on, and I’m wondering if there’s a Cirque du Soleil demo happening later in the meal.

There will be a lot that’s tempting, so I certainly recommend coming with a few friends so you get to try more. The wait staff are plentiful and we are well looked after. Tick.

We start Kingfish Miso Ceviche – devine. Wished I didn’t have to share.

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Salmon and Prawn Sushi Roll

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Tuna with crispy rice – love the texture of this.

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Red Snapper Tempura & Cuttlefish Tempura. These guys are tempura kings, its some of the lightest, most delicate tempura I’ve had.

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Duck with Witlof, nashi pear salad, warm orange soy – a generous serve, beautiful duck and a a refrehsing salad.

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“Kobe Cuisine” Wagyu Tenderloin with Pumpkin, wasabi butter, shio konbu jus. Seriously tender. Seriously good.

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Yamazaki Caramel Macchiato with Coffee ice cream, coco nibs, whisky foam. “By the way ma’am”, says our charming waiter, “that is your dessert, not your coffee”, he explains. Apparently they’ve had people pick it up and try to sip it. With the coffee ice cream, it’s a great alternative caffeine hit, and we scoop up every last bit.

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We didn’t have it this time, but I also really recommend the lamb with eggplant puree.

The Napoli Household was divided as to whether this or Sake is better, but they both have some great dishes, and the pricing is similar.  Definitely one for the to do list.

Sokyo, Level G, The Darling, The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont Ph (02) 9777 9000

Sokyo on Urbanspoon

Sake, The Rocks

Where was modern Japanese before Sake entered the Sydney dining scene? Its hard to believe its only been around since 2009, and its a favourite of mine.  The rich wood of the room, the often buzzing atmosphere, only add to the great Japanese that will be delivered by warm and friendly staff. I’ve been here several times and have had a good experience each time.

On the menu that day:

 Snapper Sashimi with sesame seeds, chives, yuzu juice and white soy dressing. Simple and beautiful.  You can rely on all sashimi and sushi dishes at Sake to be excellent.

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 Tokatsu cups – panko fried pork belly with lettuce, mustard miso, and Japanese barbeque sauce. I’m not sure why I haven’t ordered these before, they were fantastic.  Rich pork balanced by the fresh crisp lettuce.

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Prawn dumplings with spicy ponzu.  Always a fan of their dumplings.  Reminiscent of the ones at sushi-e, which is no surprise considering thats where Shaun Presland came from.

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 Chirashi Salad – Yuzu dressed sashimi, thin noodlels, sushi omlette, fish roe, daikon tsuma and tempura crunch.  This salad is a staple when we go to Sake.

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Wagyu Teriyaki wiith buckwheat and shiitake with yakiniku sauce – good if you need a meat hit, alternatively there are skewers.

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Popcorn shrimp – tempura prawns with a creamy spicy sauce.  A very rich dish and is probably best shared between four.

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Great Japanese in great surrounds. The only thing I will say is that the food came out too quickly – a little more pacing would have been good.

They also have some nice private rooms and banquets available for groups. 

Sake Restaurant and Bar, 12 Argyle St, The Rocks, ph (02) 9259 5656

Saké Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Ippudo Sydney

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I must confess I’d never heard of the Ippudo chain before it opened at Westfield. For my fellow Ippudo ignorami, apparently the first one opened in Japan in 1985 in a place called Fukuoka – use your imagination on the pronunciation – and Australia is foreign country number six to get one. But their PR machine is obviously well oiled, because very quickly everyone seemed to have heard about it and the queues were longer than long.

I’ve never been a big ramen eater, on the handful of occasions I’ve just found it too salty or too watery with no flavour, but they say (who is they exactly I’m not sure) this is meant to be the ramen to eat if you are going to try it.

Health warning: you may have a nightmare that evening of people chanting Irrashaimase repeatedly at you. I’m impressed that the staff can still do it with gusto after about the 70th time.

My friend and I hadn’t caught up for a while and wanted to chat, and I liked the fact that the staff weren’t pushy with us and hurrying us up to order. Everyone was friendly and welcoming.

So on the menu

The pork buns. These were quite a generous size and just plain yum. Succulent pork with a nice tang to the sauce – an absolute bargain at $4 a pop. A lot of people have compared these to Momofuku, I think they are different but both delicious, with the latter being more a slow braise.

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Gyoza – I’m used to big, fat, plump, juicy gyoza. So these small slightly crunchy ones weren’t really my style. Don’t rush to order these.

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Bakuretsu Tofu – tofu with minced pork, and noodles served in a sizzling stone pot, and yes it really was sizzling when it was delivered to the table. This was a winner, the spice of the broth and the slight crunch of the noodles – great combination.

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Shiormaru Motojai – their original tonkotsu broth with thin noodles, pork loin, and black mushrooms. The ‘egginess’ of the noodles, the ‘porkiness’ of the broth – delicious. No wonder I didn’t like ramen before, I just hadn’t been eating any good ones.

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The food was $39 for the two of us, and we were well sated. There is a reasonable wine selection by the glass at $10 a pop. This isn’t fine dining or anything salubrious, but its great for a casual meal at a very reasonable price point.

In the words of Arnold – “I’ll be back”.

Ippudo, Westfield Sydney Level 5, ph (02) 8078 7020

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Ippudo on Urbanspoon

Masuya, Sydney CBD

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Masuya is one of a handful of consistent quality Sydney CBD Japanese that keeps the City’s Suits wasabi’d up. Along with Kabuki Shiroko, sushi-e, and Azuma (although I will add that I think these three are better, and also I love Sake in the Rocks but that’s not technically CBD!), you’ll find the Suits, and a smattering of others, clicking their chopsticks like seasoned Japanese natives, such is the established history of the cuisine in Australia. In fact I read that the first Japanese restaurant opened in Sydney the early 70’s. On every visit I’ve made to Masuya, there hasn’t been a spare seat in the house, except maybe along the sushi counter if you’re dining solo, so be sure to book. The place does get very noisy though so don’t expect a quiet and intimate meal.

The Bento boxes in particular are good value and satisfying in size if you want a quick lunch, that range from $24.80 to $34.80 in price.

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On the menu that day

Deluxe sashimi, lovely and fresh, particularly good tuna and salmon

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Tempura seafood – very light, as tempura should be, great dipping sauce

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Soft shell crab roll – very tasty

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Salmon teriyaki – not as good, slightly overcooked. Nicely balanced teriyaki flavour but wouldn’t order it again.

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Value for money here is good, if you’re dining with a couple of friends and want to share a few dishes you can easily come in at under $35 a person. Meshiagare!

Masuya, 12-14 O’Connell Street  Sydney, ph (02) 9235 2717
Masuya Japanese Seafood on Urbanspoon