Ippuku is a small and in my opinion underrated Japanese cafe in Rosebery. Despite some somewhat middling reviews online I decided to take the plunge and visit for some sandos before an evening shift at work.
Ippuku is a nice, bright cafe with plenty of natural light and a selection of indoor table, indoor high table, and well ventilated outdoor seating, ideal for the COVID paranoid. Staffing was by a predominately Japanese crew with a Caucasian man making yummy warm juice from Single O coffee beans.
I was in a bit of a rush so I asked to have my pork katsu sando inside and the rest of the food to be packed for takeaway so that I could eat it later at work. I think unfortunately I did not communicate this very well, as similar to Yummy Duck BBQ just around the corner I received all of my food in take-away form. This was ultimately not a big deal as I was able to try each of the items that I ordered fresh.
The Pork Katsu Sando ($13) was really good. The pork cutlets were thinner than I’m used to from places like Kentaro, Oratnek, and Sandoitchi, but this was by no means a problem. Indeed I found this pork cutlet to be extra juicy, with the welcome addition of a few fatty bits around the edges to mix the flavour and texture up a bit. Unlike my previous experiences this sandwich was served with tomato, which provided an extra level of freshness to the sando and reminded me a bit of MOS Burger’s tomato burgers. Really good.
The Ebi Sando ($16) is a recent addition to the menu, and features a generous serving of thick, juicy battered and fried prawns in a bit of an egg-salad tartare sauce. I loved the juicy prawny prawns and how the sandwich was just jam packed with them. I really enjoyed the half of this sandwich that I had fresh, but found the sauce a bit too fishy when I had the second half a few hours later. It was a few dollars more expensive than the pork sando but definitely worth a try.
The pork gyoza (6 for $10) were a bit disappointing. I appreciate that they were pork and chive rather than pork and cabbage, but I just didn’t think they were all that flavourful. It tends to take a lot for a Japanese gyoza to impress me though – I tend to like Chinese dumplings more.
The Wagyu Beef Burger ($16) is pretty good, but pretty expensive and ultimately just a normal burger. It was not a Japanese hamburg patty which is what I expected. It was really just a classic hamburger with a thick juicy internally-pink patty, cheese, pickles, tomato, onion, lettuce, and sauce. Quite steep for $16 and not at all special.
The Chashu Rice ($17) is quite bad, and I would recommend you stay far away from this. Forever. The egg is nice and partially cooked and runny, bunt that’st eh end of the compliments. I found the fried rice to be sticky and not flavourful. The chashu was dry and not fatty enough to break up the bland fried rice taste. A very bad dish for you to avoid.
I drove home from Ippuku and dropped off this chicken katsu sandwich ($13) for my girlfriend. I can’t really tell you anything about it apart from the fact that she thought it was pork and enjoyed it. I asked her to save me some, which she did, but she left it in the microwave for 10 hours instead of the fridge so I didn’t feel safe enough to have any.
VERDICT Don’t fall victim to negative Nancys on Zomato. I’d strongly recommend a visit to Ippuku for their delicious sandos.
We are frequent flyers to Kazuki Japanese Restaurant in Hurstville, and I find that it is a reputable and reliable source of Japanese food for delivery to Kogarah.
The Eel box ($24.50) is a full featured bento with eel, prawn, tempura vegetables, agedashi tofu, edamame, potato mash, and salmon sashimi. It is a good set with plenty of different flavours and textures to amuse the mouth.
The chirashi sushi don ($19.50) is my favourite thing to order from Kazuki. It is a bowl of mixed sashimi on rice, including really fresh and sweet scallops, salmon belly, tuna (akami), cooked prawns, raw octopus, tamago, and a small serving of cucumber and carrot. It feels super healthy and fresh, and you can’t go wrong with it.
The soft shell crab roll ($11.50) is a bit expensive for the quantity that you get, but not bad overall.
Judging from the four times we’ve ordered from Kazuki over the course of two months, I can definitely recommend them to a friend or colleague.
There was a time, before I paid my own bills, when I would look down on Japanese cuisine cooked by non-Japanese people. What I’ve found, as I’ve become progressively poorer and progressively more well-eaten, is that our Korean colleagues can essentially do most Japanese food just as well, often for a cheaper price. Hukuya, a small Eastwood sushi bar with a wide catchment of clientele, is no exception to this.
Hukuya’s eponymous Hukuya Set ($36) was originally recommended to me by my esteemed intensive care colleague YK back in June 2020. It took nine months and a move of house back into Western Sydney for me to finally go, and let me tell you – the anticipation was worth it. The Hukuya set is a set of Hukuya’s most top-end delights – salmon belly, eel, sea urchin, salmon roe, and scampi. As both my girlfriend and myself are genetically inferior and mildly allergic to raw scampi we asked for the scampi (probably one of the higher cost pieces of the meal) to be substituted – a request that the chef readily granted. The salmon belly pieces were absolutely huge. Though most sushi is normally served in thin slices, the thickness of these salmon belly pieces were special in and of themselves. Each piece had to be eaten in several bites, and the thickness of the cuts necessitated a bit of chewing – normally this would be problematic, but this actually increased mouth transit time, allowing time for the fats to fully melt and be appreciated. The unagi nigiri was similarly excellent. The pieces of eel were again very thick and juicy, cooked just right so that all the oils and fats were on display. This is simply some of the best eel I’ve had ever – either here in Australia or in Japan.
We supplemented our Hukuya Set with the regular sushi and sashimi combination ($24). A strong plate in and of itself, this combination set offers seafood classics with the addition of a small piece of chicken katsu roll. In a stunning turn of events each piece of nigiri had a little dot of wasabi in between the fish and the rice – a rare and pleasant find in Sydney.
The school prawn chips ($8) I thought were only OK. They felt a bit dry, and in my opinion would’ve been better with a bit of dipping sauce.
The tempura set ($21) was wholly adequate, consisting of several pieces of prawn as well as a variety of vegetables. We enjoyed this more than our other recent tempura experience in the area at Hiroba, as the variety of fried things meant that it wasn’t just root vegetable after root vegetable after root vegetable. (Though root vegetable still played a prominent part).
VERDICT Hukuya is some of the best sushi in all of Sydney, at a very reasonable and affordable price. The value on the Hukuya Set is absolutely extraodinary, and I would recommend even Eastern Suburbs dwellers to make the Journey to the West. (Do not get the drink cans, they are $5 each).
Nearing the end of its first year in business, Willoughby’s Hachioji, run by Taiwanese sushi master Benson Pang, is making a move upmarket. With some luck our friends and I were able to secure a booking of the entire 8-seat counter at the original $79pp rather than the more luxurious $130pp offering that has since replaced it.
Our 14-course lunch omakase started with this cod liver entree, a lightly flavoured but densely textured dish.
The four day aged salmon sashimi was served as a fat chunk and with the first appearance of Hachioji’s top-tier wasabi.
This is where the magic happens. Chef Benson Pang advised us that none of the 10 nigiri pieces were to be eaten with soy sauce.
The 4 days aged Hiramasa Kingfish with yuzu koshu was a strong piece, the slight spiciness and tartness of the yuzu koshu adding an additional dimension of flavour to the kingfish.
The John Dory with umeshu jelly was interesting , the umeshu jelly imparting a sweet but not too sweet plummy flavour which matched well with the light tasting fish. The Ora King Salmon nigiri with caviar was delightfully fatty, with just a little bit of glaze for flavour. I might have to pick up some Ora King salmon to have for myself at home.
Both the snapper with pepper and the bluefin akami were good. The akami was sweet and was free of metallic taste, and it was a pleasure to watch Chef Pang make his invisible flavour cuts.
Hachioji’s bargain basement $79pp price comes into play with the use of chu-toro, a slightly less fatty and cheaper cut than o-toro. That said, the chu-toro nigiri with citrus peel was a good as chu-toro can be, still fatty and flavoured gently with citrus peel (not otherwise specified – my internal medicine friend asked). I liked that the Blue Mackerel added a slightly stronger tasting fish to the mix of flavours.
The aburi scallop temaki was good but apart from its superior rice and seaweed the seafood itself was no better than any other scallop I’ve had. The Anago (sea eel) was a large piece, mildly glazed and oily and juicy inside.
I opted for the addition of a chu-toro, uni, ikura hand roll ($25 supplement). This was an expensive and luxurious roll, with a thick and large piece of uni, well flavoured salmon roe, and generous slabs of chu-toro. While one of the best morsels I had at Hachioji, it would be remiss of me to evaluate this without comparing it to Kuon’s very similar hand roll. While sashimi chu-toro has superior texture to the minced o-toro that Kuon uses, I think that ultimately the sheer fattiness of the o-toro in Kuon’s roll wins over the reduced fattiness of Hachioji’s. That said, both are very good, and I would recommend paying for this $25 addition to your meal.
Our sashimi and sushi courses were followed by dobin mushi, a seafood broth made of prawn, pork, chicken, and mushroom. This was a light broth with a strong umami flavour imparted to it by the addition of fragrant mushrooms and seafood, served in an individual teapot for each diner and a small cup with a tiny lemon wedge. This soup was really nice, wholesome, and warming.
I love myself a hojicha ice cream (my favourite being the one from Mapo in Newtown), though this was not as elaborate as some other desserts that are often served at omakase restaurants.
The Hachioji team comped us this delicious mango cake for our colleague’s birthday. Unfortunately the guest of honour couldn’t make it (there were quite a few last minute cancellations and swaps – it was a whole game of musical chairs trying to wrangle 8 cats for our whole-of-restaurant booking), but this meant that we got to pass the cake around and each have some. It was good – try and bring a birthday friend if you can.
Service was pleasant and friendly, and not at all invasive. Unlimited green tea was included in the price of the meal, which is refreshing after being charged $15 a person for bottomless green tea at Kuon.
2 hour street parking is available around the corner on Tullon St. For the more intrepid, there is one hour parking available on Frenchs Road, which is not enough for the meal, though our keen eyed hostess was helpful in keeping an eye out for parking inspectors.
Our experience at Hachioji went to show that you don’t have to be Japanese to provide a top-tier sushi experience. While some of the elements were reflective of our meal’s top value price, I think that Hachioji does hit the sweet spot at $79 per head. Eating at Hachioji a mere fortnight after Kuon I don’t think that while expensive omakase restaurants like Kuon may have more luxurious elements like lobster and o-toro, I’d rather have six meals at a place like Hachioji than two at Kuon.