By the time you read this, I will be in the land of sushi and all things cute and quirky. Yes, that is Japan. I am only spending a short time here and will be staying around the Osaka and Kyoto areas. I have my laptop with me so I will try to keep you updated on my culinary adventures while I'm over there.
In the mean time, I'll leave you with one of my favourite casual Japanese restaurants back in Sydney's Inner-West - Sushi Bar Rashai.
It is easy to overlook Sushi Bar Rashai as it sits within a strip of wedding boutiques along the ageing Parramatta Road. On all the times I have been here (too many to count!), it has always been packed, so bookings are recommended.
I love their tagline, 'Bit Slow But Friendly', which I think really summarises the experience at this charming restaurant. That, plus the generous serving sizes makes it a great venue for a casual night out.
Sushi Bar Rashai is both licensed and offers BYO. Here we have some sake, miso soup ($3) and a 'healthy drink' which is essentially a honey lemon tea.
I always start with the same dishes, takoyaki ($7.80) and chasoba salad ($8.80).
Takoyaki is a popular street food in Osaka - I can't wait to indulge in takoyaki every day!
At Sushi Bar Rashai, they're deliciously toasted on the outside and moreish on the inside with small chunks of octopus. It is finished off the classic way, with a sprinkle of bonito flakes, Japanese mayonnaise and a tangy sauce.
The chasoba salad features luscious threads of green tea noodles, mixed salad greens, tomato, thin shavings of carrot, cabbage and some alfalfa sprouts. The home style salad dressing adds vibrancy to this simple dish.
We also have the ninja balls ($8.80), the seaweed delight ($6.80), agedashi tofu ($8.50), and edamame ($6.80). The ninja balls turn out to be divine deep-fried potato and chicken mince gems, which we gleefully demolish. The seaweed salad needs no introduction - its marinade is so aromatic. I also love the sticky gum texture of the agedashi tofu... Mmmm...
The beef tataki ($10.80) is served on a bed of sliced raw onion which while may sound hard to swallow, adds a really clean and crisp texture to the seared beef. The light soy vinaigrette wraps the flavours together, producing another magnificent dish.
Kicking off the meatier dishes, we start with the nasu miso steak ($9.80) - the vegetarian's winning combination of grilled eggplant and earthy miso.
The kaki fry ($10.80) are deep-fried oysters in a breadcrumb batter and is a dish all oyster lovers will enjoy.
Next up are soft shell crab karaage ($8.80), king prawn tempura ($20.80), tori karaage ($9.80). Both the karaage dishes feature a light golden brown crispy coating which accentuates the juicy flavours within. The prawns in the tempura dish are definitely king-sized - the crunch of the outside and succulent tenderness of the fresh king prawns inside... oh so good!
The small party sushi and sashimi platter ($42.80) is a fine work of art. It is clear that each piece has been prepared with extreme precision and care. There's a bit of everything - hotata (scallop), unagi (eel), hamachi (kingfish), tobiko (flying fish roe), maguro (tuna), sake (salmon), tamago nigiri (omelette sushi) and more.
Overall this restaurant is a favourite of mine, and every dining experience here only excites me even more about the delicious time I'll be soon having in Japan!
Sushi Bar Rashai
241 Parramatta Road, Annandale, NSW
Phone: (02) 9560 3007