|Sake on display at Izakaya Fuijiyama, Waterloo Street, Surry Hills|
|Sake - served at room temperature|
We're informed that the sake here are only served at room temperature, and that warmed sake was usually something reserved for lower grades of the rice wine where the heat masks the inferior flavours.
|Umeshu - plum wine|
Instead, this has a clarity of flavour without the overpowering saccharine hit, and also lacks that sometimes preserved flavour that's apparent in cheaper umeshu.
More commonly seen in its beef form, this tataki features thick-ish, raw slivers of yellowtail - a pink-fleshed fish with quite a soft texture - tossed with shallots and fresh, ground ginger on a string bed of daikon strips. Served with soy sauce, the combination of seasonings took on a Cantonese flavour; albeit light and fresh with natural sweetness of the fish.
|Satsuma age - housemade fish cake (two serves)|
|Kenji Fried Chicken|
Battered hunks of succulent chicken were served with lemon and a creamy mayonnaise, and showed no indication whatsoever that the chef hadn't cooked Japanese food professionally for eight years.
|Japanese fried potato|
|Grilled mackerel with grated daikon|
The tartness of the pickles was just the thing to complement the creamy, mashed and chunky bits of potato in this carb-olicious salad.
|Kingfish nuta with fried tortilla|
Marinated with lots of lime and miso for creaminess, this fine dice of kingfish topped with shallots simply blew me away with its gigantic flavours - sweet, salty, creamy and a little spicy. Eaten cracker style on the crisp, golden tortilla chips, this is one hell of a Japanese nachos.
|Grilled mackerel with teriyaki sauce|
Three thick slices of the most gorgeous-looking, raw, skin-on mackerel (purchased that morning at the Sydney Fish Markets, Maenaka tells us, like all his fish) were skewered and placed directly onto an open yakitori-like grill. It's turned from time to time, as well as dunked into a large pot of house-made teriyaki sauce and returned to the grill.
Chef Maenaka leans over to tell us that no-one else in the world would have his teriyaki sauce, since he dunks his fish and beef into it; the juices from both contributing to the flavours of the sauce, which is boiled out every day like a master stock.
It's pretty special and it shows with the appetisingly caramelised surface of the fresh-off-the-grill mackerel. Dunked and turned on the grill many a time, the firm flesh of the fish, along with the deeply sweet teriyaki sauce, make this dish simply divine, while the thin slices of pickled daikon cut through the rich sauce in just the right way.
|Chocolate ice cream with bourbon|
Not being a drinker of the latter booze, I left most the sauce in favour of unadulterated chocolate ice cream - silky smooth, luxuriously creamy and one of the best I've had in ages. There were also some chopped shortbread biscuits nesting at the bottom, reducing the richness as well as the slippery, sliding ice cream factor.
Washed down with a pot of Japanese green tea, we watched the rain continue to belt down and wash the roads, footpaths and pretty much anything/one not under cover. Completely stuffed and just warmed from the sake, I concluded that next time would have a much better attempt at conquering the Fujiyama mountain of sake on offer. Along with tasty eats, izakaya-style, of course.