Irashaimase: Sushi Samurai, Neutral Bay!

January 9, 2011 at 3:39 am 2 comments

I don’t know whether you feel the same, but Mr L and I are kinda still feeling like we’re on holidays – even despite the unhappy return to work that we both experienced last week. I think the way we’re feeling has to do with the fantastic weather we’ve been blessed with in Sydney – naturally, we’ve mixed the hot, sunny days with lots of swimming and picnic food during the days, and have attended a swag of social events with friends and family during the nights. I haven’t reaaaaaally cooked anything much these past few weeks and although I’ve felt a bit lazy on that score, I’ve very much enjoyed catching up with friends and family and eating out quite a bit.

So on Friday night, I had two options:

  1. I could buck the trend and start the cooking series for 2011; or
  2. Mr L and I could continue our restaurant crawl along Military Road at Neutral Bay.

We chose option two and hopped in the car unsure about where our evening would take us. We parked up on Military Road out the front of the beloved French restaurant, Mrs Top. We had discussed the rules of this dinner – we would not return to anywhere we’d previously visited, and sadly, Mrs Top fell into that category, so we walked past it and checked our other options.

After some discussion, we decided we’d try Sushi Samurai which was across the road from where we stood. We’d tried to get in there one past evening on a visit with PC. When we were unable to get a table we ended up at Je Ge Mu & Shimbashi and had a wonderful time, but this night, we had a feeling that we’d get in, so we did the mad dash across Military Road and to our great pleasure, were welcomed inside to the large interior at Sushi Samurai.

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Sushi Samurai

Irashaimase!

Well I gotta say, I had no idea that the inside of the restaurant would be as big as it is and was probably looking a little curious when the staff sang out “Irashaimase!”, welcoming us to the restaurant. The place was packed – both inside where we sat, and outside in the little courtyard that looks onto Military Road. Despite that, we received menus quickly and had our drinks order taken.

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The bar at Sushi Samurai

Mr L suggests that since this dinner was my idea (though he wasn’t complaining!), it’s my responsibility to order dinner. So armed with the normal menu and the specials menu, I get onto the task at hand.

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The specials menu

So I’m just going to put it out there… I got carried away, okay? I was thinking that the dishes I was ordering were going to mostly be small plates – um… WRONG!  We didn’t get to finish everything, but we did have an amazing dinner (which we could have shared with two other friends!) Mental note… ask more questions before confidently ordering a huge amount of food next time! Anyhoo, here’s what I ordered:

Chilli and garlic edamame

Oh my word. These little soya beans were so garlicky and so chilli-i that they packed a mega flavour punch. They were on the specials menu and not your average edamame – I’d definitely go back in for these next time!

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Chilli and garlic edamame

Lotus Root Chips

Somebody say chips? Well, actually – I ordered these not because they were chips, but because I’d never tried lotus root chips before and was curious to see what they were like. Again – I’d so recommend these – they tasted a little bit like sweet potato, but were coated in chicken salt, which brought a whole different flavour dimension. Hard to describe, just try them if you go!

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Lotus root chips with decorative radish!

OMG Agedashi eggplant

This agedashi eggplant (with mochi) was one of our very very very favourite dishes on the night. You can see in the pic below, it’s sitting in a pool of delicious broth and the eggplant and mochi (Japanese rice cake) is accompanied by flavoursome, bright green shallots. So you spoon some of the agedashi eggplant into a little bowl; eat the eggplant and drink the soupy broth with a laksa spoon. Usually agedashi is made with tofu in place of the eggplant which I like, but this version – it was So SO GOOD!

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Agedashi eggplant in its serving bowl

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My serving of the eggplant dish – I could have eaten a whole big bowl of it!

So what you’ve just read was the description of our starter dishes. We had no real idea about the onslaught that was about to come. Deep breath….

Karaage chicken

This was like an oh-so-good-but-oh-so-bad Japanese version of the Colonel’s special herbs and spices chicken. It was fried. Deep fried. And it came straight out of the fryer to our table. It was very hot (temperature wise) when it arrived and so we had to make a couple of attempts to eat this dish. It came with a little blob of kewpie mayo, a wedge of lemon and some token side salad to cool your mouth down.

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Karaage chicken

Spicy soft shell crab

Next up – spicy soft shell crab served samurai style. Another fried item (hmmm…) – fried, but delicious. It was coated in a light batter and (yes, deep) fried. This is a dish that Pa and FIL would love – and I’m thinking we might need to revisit said Sushi Samurai so that they can both try it.

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The spicy soft shell crab

Grilled king fish with miso “taste”

This dish was also from the specials menu – it was thin slivers of king fish that had been lightly grilled and then basted in a thick miso sauce. I liked this one, but Mr L wasn’t much of a fan. This was one of the very few dishes that I chose which was not fried – oops!

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King fish with miso taste (one fillet missing – oops!)

The piece de resistance: pork belly, Peking duck style

This dish was absolutely unnecessary at this point in proceedings, but my-oh-my it was incredible! This is on the Sushi Samurai regular menu. It is pork belly, Peking duck style. Loving pork belly and loving Peking duck, during the ordering phase, I felt it would be rude not taking the opportunity to try the fusion of the two.

What appeared was a long dish with pancakes and long, green shallots at one end; with slow-roasted pork belly, floating in amazing, porky broth down the other end. I’m afraid the photography does it no justice at all. We got carried away and wanted to get stuck into it, so the photography came a distant second to the experience of eating the dish (well, much of the dish anyway – we couldn’t finish it all as we’d had so much to eat!)

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The pork belly with pancakes and shallots

We dug in and oh boy, what a combo!

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Pork belly, shallots, carrot and hot mustard (like English mustard) on Peking duck pancakes

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Mr L looking overjoyed to have a pork belly pancake in his mit!

So you can see what I was saying right? A lot, lot, LOT of food! By this stage, we’re both so over-stuffed that we can only imagine staggering back across Military Road to the car, rolling home and then flaking on the couch to watch How I Met Your Mother re-runs!

We signal for the bill and find that all that food + two big Sapporos and one tiny one amounted to a grand total of $97! And really, next time, we’ll take two friends and share all that food – so I reckon that was pretty cheap considering the excellent quality of the food and the terrific, prompt and friendly service we received. While paying the bill, we find out that Mr L’s sister, and our BIL had also had (takeaway) dinner from this restaurant on that night and that the takeaway is also a highly rated option – and one that I think we’ll be looking into!

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Me and my tiny Sapporo – just enough to wet the whistle!

The low down

Sushi Samurai is located at 5/197 Military Road, Neutral Bay NSW 2089 (on the corner of Military and Rangers roads. It offers both indoor and outdoor dining, but I think you’d need to book on a weekend if you wanted a table outside. Tel: +61 2 9953 4059.

It is open seven days. For lunch: 12 – 3pm and dinner: 5:30 – 10:00 pm.

The same people own a number of other restaurants around the traps and you can find all the info about them at the website for “The Excellent Group”.

Your recommendations

Have you had a great Japanese experience of late? I’m particularly looking for ideas relating to sushi trains that are good for a quick and tasty lunchtime stop. I’d love to hear any suggestions – please add them into the Comments box at the bottom of this page. Arigatou!

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Entry filed under: Cheap n cheerful, Dinner, Japanese, Middle of the road, sydney.

Well hello 2011! Trouble concentrating and thinking of Queensland

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gbro  |  January 9, 2011 at 7:43 am

    I’ve been there twice before and had the crab both times… Alas the last time I went out for dinner sans kids was too long ago

    Reply
    • 2. myfavouritefruits  |  January 11, 2011 at 5:59 am

      So I’m thinking we need to find a way to get you and Mrs Gbro out of the house for such an event. Perhaps we could do a lunch time stint @ SS with kids?

      Reply

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