Sushi Samurai in Neutral Bay used to be one of my local favourites for Japanese food, but since new Japanese restaurants started opening up around the area, it seems to have fallen off my radar. I’m glad it was brought to my attention again though by Washoku Lovers, because even though it now has a new name and a new fancy touch-screen ordering system, the food is still just as good – I know because I wrote a blog post about it about 5 years ago! (excuse the crappy photos)
In true izakaya style, we kick start our meal with alcohol. Sake is our choice of drink tonight, and we’re presented with three different sakes to sample before making a choice. Each has its own distinct flavour, with the Otokoyama being quite dry and the Urakasumi being sweeter.
Izakaya Samurai also offers different specials on different nights of the week. Dining between 5.30pm and 7pm on a Monday night means you can get a sushi and sashimi combo for half price.
The combo has some fresh salmon, tuna and kingfish sashimi, along with a neat row of nigiri and salmon and avocado rolls.
There’s a good selection of fish on the plate, including plump scallops, cuttlefish and ikura salmon roe which pop in the mouth.
Judging from the number of posts about Japanese restaurants on this blog, you can safely guess that I love Japanese food. Having lots of cheap and cheerful places that serve fresh and tasty Japanese food around my area is a bonus. Sushi Samurai is one of those places that we go to frequently and we’ve never been disappointed.
The cream croquettes and miso eggplant are dishes off the normal menu that we order pretty much every time we go. The croquettes are filled with a creamy, potato-like filling that is supposedly crab flavour, but my favourite part is the crunchy exterior that are deep fried to a crisp. And who doesn’t like miso eggplant? The eggplant is deep fried until the insides are soft and creamy, and a sweet miso paste is slathered on top for flavour. A few sprinklings of sesame seeds later and we’re digging in to cubes of soft, sweet eggplant which are thoughtfully pre-cut for convenience.
There is also a specials menu which changes daily. We try the tempura dumplings and baked scallops from the menu which are quite generous servings. The crispy tempura dumplings have a pork and vegetable filling, and are drizzled with soy and Japanese mayonnaise. The scallops are served in the half shell, and baked with a miso mayonnaise.
Sorry about the lack of posts lately, guys! Life has thrown multiple curveballs at me and since this year I am to be plagued by yet another thesis that means more reading of journal articles and less blogging. I will try my best to post at least every week but a girl needs to keep her sanity somehow, and sometimes the best way to do that is to veg out in front of the TV.
Anyway – onto the food! Those of you who have seen Sir D’s extensive liquor collection will know that while I keep an eye out for tasty eats, he keeps an eye out for tasty drinks. As a long time appreciator of the cocktails at the Hilton’s Zeta Bar, Sir D decides to follow Zeta Bar consultant Grant Collins to his latest venture at The White Hart in Neutral Bay.
“But does it have good food?” I ask. A quick squiz of the online menu has me sold and before we know it, we’re sitting in a cosy space with a dining area and a lounge area, and decor that is a modern twist on the old English tavern. With a cocktail list that reads as long as a chapter book, we’re spoilt for choice in the drinks department but soon we’re happily sipping on cocktails.
The smokin’ tiki punch catches my eye – mainly the novelty of having my drink served in a “smoking tiki mug” – but the rum-based drink is fruity and well-balanced with flavours of apricot and passionfruit. How the mug is actually smoking is beyond me but give me a novelty mug and a cocktail umbrella and I’m happy hehe.
Sir D opts for the devonshire cider apple sour which is definitely a drink for the apple lovers. With homemade apple cider that is frozen into a giant sphere that chills and flavours the drink at the same time, this drink is a take on the classic sour with apple-infused vodka and bitters. I actually end up liking this drink more than my own!
Ribs and Burgers. A simple name for a restaurant that describes exactly what they do best – ribs and burgers. It hasn’t been open for long but already people are flocking there so that it is packed out on a Saturday night.
We’re greeted by a large blackboard displaying the menu at the front of the restaurant, while warm wooden tones, hanging cast iron pots and pans and dangling lights made from jam jars decorate the dining space. Order your meal at the counter before taking a numbered metal bucket and finding a seat, where your meal will be brought out to you.
Handmade noodles. There is something about them – perhaps the extra bite and chewyness, the fact that it’s fresh, or just that it’s been made with love – that makes them special. Here at Jugemu & Shimbashi, the soba noodles are all three of these things, with the noodles being freshly made by hand (and with love!) before each service and perfectly chewy.
The restaurant consists of two sides: Jugemu, which specialises in okonomiyaki and teppanyaki, on one side and Shimbashi, a buckwheat noodle house, on the other. Tonight we are seated on the Shimbashi side in a sunken wooden table where we must remove our shoes first. We’re given the menu which includes items from both sides of the restaurant, as well as an A4 sheet detailing their specials for today.
To start we order the soba dips to nibble on. The crunchy soba crisps are the perfect vehicle for the avocado and minced salmon sashimi dip and the dish is light enough to just whet the appetite. Sir D and I also share the grilled beef tongue skewers which are tender and flavoursome from the white miso marinade.