The combination of a prolonged economic “recession” and the more cautious consumer discretionary spending habits associated with it; the MasterChef effect; rising living costs; a changing consumer and diner; and quite honestly some overambitious plans should not herald any end to the vibrant dining scene we have in Sydney. The current state of flux is an evolution of the industry that will take its course – if not tomorrow, next month or next year.
|Asazuke - salt pickled mixed vegetables from Izakaya Fujiyama, Waterloo Street, Surry Hills|
It’s a great drinking and eating venue on the quieter side of Surry Hills and has really developed a niche in its sake range. All I know is that I picked sake #77 (name forgotten, but lovely and dry) and there were more than 77 on the list.
We started on Japanese pickles which have more of a salty aspect compared to various other Asian and non-Asian pickles, which often have more sweet and sour elements. But all the better to drink with, which is the precise idea of an izakaya.
This bowl was predominantly juicy Chinese cabbage and cucumber, with some grated carrot gracing the salty jumble.
|Three bean salad with sesame dressing|
A vision of green, the three bean salad is worlds away from the tinned stuff, featuring snow peas, green beans and sugar snap peas all in fantastic states of crisp freshness. The nutty sesame dressing was pretty full on, adding serious weight to a bowl of greens.
|Kingfish nuta with tortilla|
Our fears that there weren’t enough deep fried tortilla segments were unfounded, especially when the raw, miso-dressed kingfish is best piled on liberally.
I have to say I prefer the non-spicy version, but this one packs a flavour punch that makes one glad they drink beer.
The platter of ten generous pieces features five impeccable varieties, presented so alluringly that sharing amongst three is a slight problem.
|Kenji's fried chicken|
|Crispy pork belly|
The blistered, burnished skin wasn’t quite at crackling state, but close, lined with a layer of fat and fall-apart soft cross-sections of meat.
The lemon was a lifesaver of the dish; being rather crucial in cutting through the fatty mouthfuls and overall richness while the paste-like yuzu pepper added a zingy kick.
|Teriyaki beef kalbi|
The multiple dips into teriyaki sauce while being grilled probably have a lot to do with the appetising caramelised edges of the beef rib, which was succulent and still a little pink in the middle.
It’s quite the rich serving so the green chilli relish went some way in ensuring that beef overload didn’t hit too soon – though it definitely has some punch of its own.
|Vanilla ice cream with Japanese vinegar|
A little like a caramelised balsamic vinegar, it wasn’t overly weird as it may have sounded initially but it also probably won’t make my list of favourite ice cream toppings.
It was another thoroughly enjoyable evening of food and drinks at Izakaya Fuijiyama and I definitely don’t want it to be my last, so I’ll be making sure to revisit this and my other Sydney favourites soon.