Although there’s no shortage of Japanese restaurants around my area, I still love finding out about new ones. I’d been meaning to try out Mino in Mosman for a while, which offers a very affordable kaiseki 6-course dinner. When I found out that Mino had also opened a restaurant in Willoughby, I went to try it out ASAP.
Mino Sushi and Sake in Willoughby focuses more on a la carte dishes than the multi-course menu that is offered by its sister restaurant. This gave us more choice when ordering, almost too much choice, especially when there were several tapas-style offerings that were available per piece, like a grilled scallop with garlic soy butter ($4), or a yakitori chicken skewer ($3.50).
Eventually we settled on shared plates. Sushi was mandatory, of course, so a 12 piece sushi platter was ordered. It had the usual suspects of salmon, tuna and kingfish nigiri – both fresh and aburi style. I loved the aburi scallop with its criss-cross grill marks and smokey flavour, and fresh scampi is always a delight.
The nikujaga croquette was new to me. Two crumbed pucks of mashed potato and beef came with a dollop of Japanese mayonnaise for dipping. It was crispy and comforting, with the innards reminding me of a shepherds pie.
Nasu dengaku is a stable for me at Japanese restaurants, and this rendition of the dish is packed full of miso flavour. The cubes of eggplant are precut, so all you need is a spoon to get out the soft eggplant and to make sure you have a good helping of miso on your piece.
I’m a sucker for anything with scallops so we ordered the Sakura roll, one of the night’s specials. It arrived as 6 small cucumber rolls with a seared scallop on top of each roll. They were arranged in a flower shape and topped with flying fish roe.
Who doesn’t love a bit of fried chicken? The knobbly karaage chicken pieces were super juicy, but unfortunately lacked crunch despite its deep fry treatment.
The spicy tuna and avocado roll was an inside-out roll of tuna and avocado, drizzled liberally with a spicy mayonnaise and topped with deep fried strands of spring onions.
The assortment of tempura that came as part of the main size was quite a generous serving, with three prawns, several types of mushrooms and vegetables. I loved the tempura king brown mushroom which was wonderfully meaty underneath the light tempura batter.
We finished with the tonkatsu, which was again a sizeable serving. The crumb was falling off in a couple of places but the pork was thankfully tender and juicy, and even better when dipped into the tonkatsu dipping sauce.
In the end, we managed to sample a reasonable portion of the menu between five of us. Even though the restaurant was quite busy even on a weeknight, the service was quick and attentive. It seems as though this place is already a favourite of the locals who have “regular” orders, and it’s not hard to see why when there’s some tasty Japanese food to be had, without breaking the bank.
Mino Sushi and Sake
533 Willoughby Road
Willoughby NSW 2068
Ph: +61 2 9967 2464
Open 7 days, 6-10pm
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