One of the highlights of this visit to Tokyo was the incredible sashimi and sushi meal at Kyubey. We sat at the main restaurant’s ground floor bench, and had a chef serving us directly (service charge was applied) – this was worth the extra fee to watch the chef’s knife skills – and chose the Iga kaisek set (¥18,000 at lunch with the anniversary special). The meal started with two beautiful entrees, one with tofu and aloe, the other with a raw seasonal fish – light, delicate and delightful. Then the sashimi began – red seabream, middle tuna, squid and a couple of others I ate without asking the name. Each was fresh from the Tsukiji market and perfectly timed to minimise the time between being sliced and eaten. Following a relatively large piece of grilled fish (possibly bonito?), the nigiri sushi began. Each was a delight, particularly the ootoro (fatty tuna), which melted in your mouth and had such a delicate flavour – heavenly. The prawns were brought out live, killed in front of us and put on the rice (you can also choose to have it cooked, as I did). It doesn’t get fresher than that! Next up soup, grilled eel (so creamy!) and small rolled sushi. The meal ended with an egg omelette block and a large wedge of watermelon. Top class sushi and a must-visit for a splash-out meal.
Kyubey Ginza, 8-7-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, http://www.kyubey.jp/en
One of the best things about Tokyo is stumbling across hidden foodie gems – Sakana no Gogo was one of these finds. It doesn’t really look like a restaurant, and isn’t English-friendly, but if you have some Japanese (or are happy to eat anything) it is worth finding. A robata restaurant, once you’re seated you receive a bowl with hot coals and a grill plate above to cook dehydrated appetisers – squid, bonito fish and peppers. So, so good. The rest of the food is cooked in the kitchen, but you can see it clearly from the counter. We ordered a few yakitori dishes (asparagus, chicken) but the real stand-out was the eel. Creamy, tender and rich, we both started and finished with this dish (the clear favourite). We also tried the eggplant dish topped with bonito – it was tasty, but not the pick of the menu. We thoroughly enjoyed the flying fish – served lightly battered, salted and whole, we slowly picked our way through the meat (I couldn’t quite bring myself to eat the ‘wings’) which had beautiful flavour and was perfectly tender. All up with drinks the meal was about ¥3500 each – great value for such a fabulous dinner.
Sakana no Gogo, Kagurazaka 4-4, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Poke bowls seem to be the food of the moment, so while I was in Tokyo recently I stopped in at a Hawaiian-style restaurant to try one in a city known for its fresh seafood. I picked the lunch set (which included unlimited soup, cold drinks and coffee) with the tuna, avocado and octopus poke bowl (¥1274). The soup of the day was ginger, which was more like a consomme, clear and refreshing with a moderately strong ginger flavour. I helped myself to a glass of original lemonade (delicious) and then got stuck into my beautiful poke bowl. There was plenty of octopus, each slice fresh and coated in a lovely, slightly spicy marinade (possibly a Korean chilli sauce?). The tuna cubes were plump and very tasty, and the fresh avocado added a nice creaminess to the whole thing. The rice underneath was nicely seasoned and had a mix of white and black rice, leaving the bowl a pleasing purple colour. The bowl was just the right size for a casual lunch, and I didn’t feel rushed to vacate my seat (perks of a late lunch). Highly recommended for something a bit different in Tokyo.
Aloha Table, Iidabashi Sakura Terrace, 2-10-2 Fujimi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan, http://iidabashi.alohatable.com/
Lunch with my Mum at Urban Pantry was a treat for the tastebuds. We sat out on the breezy deck, and decided to share two lighter dishes – the kingfish ceviche ($18) and the chargrilled octopus ($24), and I treated myself to a house lychee soad ($7). The soda was refreshing, although the lychee flavour had to be mixed in, which was tricky given the glass was packed with ice! But the flavour was lovely, with a sprig of fresh mint. We ate the octopus salad first, devouring the plump, tender pieces doused in a tangy vinagrette. I would have liked a more smokey flavour from a chargrill, but that was my only complaint. The salad had a magic pesto hidden inside – magic, because it was one of the best pestos I’ve ever tried, and it was fun to discover it amid the chickpeas, green beans, kipfler potatoes, roasted capsicum strips and salad leaves. The ceviche was a strong finish, with caviar balanced on top of a radish slice balanced on top of a pile of kingfish, avocado and fresh tomato, accompanied by slices of a luscious lavosh. A mouthful with a bit of everything was heavenly, and we hardly spoke a word while eating. Definitely coming back for both dishes.
Urban Pantry, 5 Bougainville Street, Griffith ACT, http://www.urbanpantrymanuka.com.au/
I usually find myself at Local Press for breakfast, but on my last day before going back to work, I treated myself to a late lunch on a whim. The lunch menu has great seasonal options, and given the heat of the day, I opted for something on the refreshing side – Seared Tuna with furikake rice, house kimchi, pickled vegetables, miso bok choy, edamame puree and togarashi ($24). Phew. Luckily, eating it wasn’t as exhausting as typing it. This is definitely one of the food highlights of 2017 so far – the tuna was beautifully cooked (although one of the three portions was a bit cool by the time it got to the table), and the togarashi seasoning added a nice kick of spice. The accompaniments were well-considered, each adding great flavour and texture, and making the dish easy to eat slowly and savour. The bok choy was crisp and salty, and matched nicely with the heat of the kimchi (soooo good). The rice, well-seasoned, also helped to cool the kimchi heat and helped the dish become filling. The pickled vegetables were a highlight – the cucumber stole the show, although the beetroot and carrot were also tasty. This one is definitely a keeper please Local Press! Can’t wait to order it again!
Local Press, 128 Trevellian Quay, Kingston ACT http://www.localpresscafe.com.au/
Part one of this review is here. We ordered two of the hot meze, starting with the charcoal octopus served with witlof and tomato ezme, a salad made from tomato, garlic, onion and parsley ($23). The dish was simple and very effective, with the perfectly charcoaled octopus meat packed with flavour and presented to its best advantage with little adornment. The ezme was a refreshing accompaniment, balanced well by the bitterness of the witlof. Finally, on the manager’s recommendation, we chose the Hanger beef fillet, with field mushrooms and maple-cured pastirma ($38). The beef is sourced from butcher Victor Churchill, and is rested for 250 days. Cooked medium-rare and sliced to reveal beautiful marbling, this prime cut was tasty and tender. But it transformed into something magic in combination with the juicy, plump mushrooms that melted in the mouth and the sweet pastirma straps – a mouthful with everything was utter perfection. We all sat there, stunned as each dish came out as excellent as the last, wishing we had stomach space for another one. Sadly we didn’t have room for dessert either, but this will not be our last visit, for sure.
Anason, 5/23 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo NSW, http://anason.com.au/
Wandering through Barangaroo, Anason’s vibrant blue doors stand out against the concrete and hanging plants. Headed up by chef Somer Sivrioglu, Anason brings a taste of Turkey to Sydney’s newest district, the plates structured as meze to share. Everything here is done with class, and first up I have to say the service was above and beyond. All the tables are alfresco (with a few bar stools inside), and heaters were turned on to combat the evening breeze. We were stepped through the menu, and I couldn’t resist the call of white cod roe tarama ($16), topped with fingerlime and served with tiny rounds of sesame bread, like croutons. The dip was perfectly salty and creamy, with a delicate roe flavour and a fabulous pop and slight tartness from the fingerlime. We ordered a side of pita bread ($3 per piece), which was sprinkled with very fine dukkha and went perfectly with the dip. Dish two was generously provided on the house – cured salmon pastirma (usually $21), served with fennel and pickled chilli. The salmon is coated in the same spices as beef pastrami, and left to hang for 18 hours. The dish retains the salmon’s flavour, while absorbing the gorgeous mix of spices – the pickled chilli is flavoursome rather than spicy, and the portion is generous and filling. Part two to follow.
Anason, 5/23 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo NSW, http://anason.com.au/
I got some great tips from my Lonely Planet guide to Chile, and lunch at Tambo was one of them. Offering a range of Peruvian foods, I couldn’t go past the ceviche – my waiter recommended the cilantro sauce, and I picked the mixed plate (including calamari, octopus, prawns and fish, CLP $8400) and ordered a house ginger lemonade . That was obviously a good choice – everyone else in the restaurant seemed to have one too! The ginger flavour was present and fresh but not overpowering, and it had just the right amount of sweetness. The ceviche was huge when it came out and I struggled to finish the plate (it would have been good to share). The seafood mix was cold and fresh, but the real magic was in the sauce. It didn’t taste distinctly of cilantro, but the combination of creamy sauce and herbs brought the seafood to life in a way I’ve never experienced before. The meal was surprisingly rich, so the ginger lemonade was a good pairing to cut through it, and the sweet potato portion on the side (also cold) was delicious. Definitely one of the best value meals I had in Santiago.
Tambo, José Víctorino Lastarria 65, Barrio Lastarria, Santiago Chile, http://www.tambo.cl/
I was so very excited to see that one of the breakfast/brunch options at Devon was salmon. It’s quite rare to find a Japanese-style breakfast, so we were happy to wait for nearly 30mins to get a table. Seated in the back courtyard, we ordered right away, tummies grumbling from the wait. I chose Breakfast with the Sakumas ($25), clearly a staple menu item, of miso-grilled salmon, smoked eel croquette, 63 degree egg, radish salad and kewpie mayonnaise. The plate was beautifully presented, and I broke open the croquette before cutting my egg, so there was something to absorb the perfectly runny yolk. The croquette was delightful – don’t be put off if you’re not a seafood fan, the eel flavor is subtle, and the brown rice inside makes this a surprisingly filling portion. But the main game is definitely the salmon, which shines brightly amongst all other salmon dishes. Perfectly flaked and tender, and topped with a crisp seaweed and spice crumb (amazingly good), this was a complete delight and something I would go out of my way to eat again. The radish salad broke up the rich flavours of the rest of the dish, bringing perfect balance and sending me right back to Tokyo breakfasts past.
Devon, 76 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills, NSW, http://www.devoncafe.com.au/
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Reviewing this place twice is ok, but three times is excessive. Well, in my quest to share the best sushi experience in Tokyo, I did venture away from my beloved Sushi Zanmai in Akihabara and tried their flagship Tsukiji store. So, here’s how it went. Unlike in Akihabara, this Sushi Zanmai is multi-storey (oooooh), and at lunchtime it was pumping. We waited about 15 minutes for a table, and then were taken upstairs. Unfortunately our sushi chef was under the pump and had three groups of diners to look after at the counter, along with the table orders, so service was very slow. We started out with green tea and miso, sharing a bowl of the seaweed miso (so good). Next was the tempura squid, which was quite a good size portion and had a really lovely crispiness, along with plenty of salt to season. Then it was sushi time. We went for the classic favourites, having multiple serves of aburi salmon, before another go at the saba – sadly there was a bit too much wasabi on our pieces to fully enjoy this one. The unagi was excellent though – it just melted in your mouth. The verdict? Stick to Akihabara, or go at an off-peak time.
Sushi Zanmai, 4-11-9, Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo http://www.kiyomura.co.jp/ (Japanese only)