Asian Fusion Café Japanese

Devon – Surry Hills NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I are big fans of Dopa – Devon’s offshoot donburi restaurant in Darling Square. We’ve been going regularly over the past few months, however it had been a long time since we had dined at the mothership in Surry Hills.

We went suckered in by pictures of uni laden foods on instagram, and I made my partner promise me that she would let us leave and eat somewhere else if they had run out (as is often the case at Dopa, I’m sick of being baited and switched).

We dined on a Sunday morning in an empty restaurant, much different to how it was like when we had last dined in 2019. As predicted, they were out of uni, however a craving for a pork katsu sandwich prevented us from leaving.

My partner had a matcha latte while I, as an inferior Asian, had an iced matcha soy latte. While I can’t speak for my partner’s drink, I can say that my iced matcha soy latte was not as good as the one that I had at 101kissa. There was just something so powdery and nice about the iced matcha soy lattte from 101kissa, whereas this one was a weird blend of sweet and bitter that didn’t tickle my tastebuds in quite the right way.

Devon’s pork katsu sando ($16) is cut into two portions and served in a cardboard box. The sauce is spread evenly through the sandwich, which is a selling point, however this is where the compliments end. I felt that the pork itself was not as juicy or tender as in the pork katsu sandwich I had at Cafe Kentaro. I also felt that the sandwich was overbreaded, with the bread to filling ratio too great, adding an unneeded and unwanted blandness to the taste. The size and construction of the sandwich halves were also inferior to the three pieces at Kentaro, and made the sandwich difficult to eat.

While Devon’s pork katsu sando probably stands fine on its own to a person who has never had a good pork katsu sando, it fails in comparison to that at Kentaro, a few kilometres away.

I didn’t enjoy the salted egg yolk cheesy curly fries ($13). Perhaps it’s because we’ve had just so much salted egg yolk foods in the past few weeks that I’m sick of it, but I think the more likely reason is that these chips were oily but dry. Their thinness did not help, as the higher surface area to volume ratio increased the radiative heat loss from the food, making them too cool and yucky too quickly.

My partner ordered the omurice with salmon sashimi in ponzu sauce. We were quite surprised to find that the omurice was served separately to the salmon. The salmon was cold but the omurice was warm. While the omurice itself was quite delicious with its mushroomy gravy, I don’t think it really worked as a combination. I wonder if it’s the responsibility of the wait staff to sway you away from bad choices. Either way, that was not what happened here. What happened here was a thoroughly noncohesive dish.

I’m sad to say that I didn’t really enjoy our trip to Devon. While I love their rice bowls at their Haymarket offshoot Dopa, our trip back to the mothership was disappointing.

Devon Cafe
76 Devonshire St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9211 8777


Lantern by Wagaya – Sydney CBD Japanese Restaurant Review

The third convening of the Intensive Care Japanese Cuisine Research Society occurred on the 25th of October 2020 at Lantern by Wagaya in the Sydney CBD. The location, a mixed-purpose karaoke bar and Japanese restaurant run by Chinese people was chosen as it was one of the few venues that could accommodate us late in the evening. Our original plan was to choose a place that would be suitable to host our colleagues finishing work at 8:30PM, and while the kitchen at Lantern closes at 9PM, the venue itself is open until 2AM.

Ordering was via a touchscreen tablet system. There was an extensive alcohol menu which we did not really partake in. This same company runs Sushi Hotaru in the Galeries, which is as far more sushi focused venture.

The wagyu beef skewers (2 for $13) were miniature and expensive. One of my colleagues said that he enjoyed the tender texture of the meat, but I couldn’t really tell that it was wagyu. Nothing to write home about.

The agedashi soft shell crab with tofu ($11.30) was a good size for the price and venue, however I felt like the flavour was lacking. The crab did not feel fresh to me, and I wouldn’t recommend getting this one.

The salt garlic fried chicken (karaage) ($10.50) was also a good size, however I did not enjoy it either. My colleague who enjoyed the wagyu skewers was quite keen on this and wanted to order more, but personally I did not think it had a fresh taste to it either. I would go so far as to say that it didn’t taste or feel like it was freshly fried, but I wonder what shenanigans would have to be going on behind the scenes for that to be the case.

I feel like a broken record but I don’t think the takoyaki ($7.90) was special either.

I actually thought the homemade dumplings (5 for $8.80) were quite good. Probably a reflection of the staff’s Chinese background.

Chicken yakitori was, similar to the wagyu skewers, small and expensive. I did enjoy their taste however, and thought that the chicken was tender and cooked well. I guess it is something that’s hard to do too badly.

The Salmon Chazuke ($8.50) was one of the stars of the meal. It consisted of a bowl of rice, topped with salmon, soaked in hot tea, and came strongly recommended from my senior colleague who had seen something similar in the TV show “Tokyo Midnight Diner”. I really enjoyed the warmth and wholesome feeling that this bowl gave me. It is great value, and a must try at Lantern.

The aburi salmon nigiri ($11.50) was good and priced reasonably. The portions were large, and the flavour was not muddled by excess sauce, which is a problem many restaurants face. A recommendation.

I could’ve lived without the dragon roll ($14), which was eel sushi topped with lotus root. It was my first ever fried lotus root and not that memorable.

I enjoyed the seared kingfish handroll ($4.50). One of my colleagues ordered a chilli cod roe and tuna hand roll ($4.50) – reportedly middling, and the other the soft shell crab hand roll ($4.80) – unreported.

Our first big ticket item was the assorted daily sashimi ($40.80). Unfortunately it only came with 3 pieces of the fish and egg, so I can only do a partial review from personal experience. I enjoyed the salmon – I thought the quality was quite good. The octopus had a nice sweetness to it, as did the scallop. The oyster was served natural, however both myself and my intrepid colleague added in our own lemon sauce vinaigrette. The tamago was soft and passable not not a specialty. My partner did not enjoy the tuna sashimi however I cannot say on personal experience. I do not know about the scampi and was too afraid to even ask about it as I did not want to get a sympathetic allergic reaction.

The large beef sukiyaki with extra beef ($34.50) was an unexpected hit with the boys. We were treated to a large bowl of tofu, mushrooms and vegetables, and 12 slices of beef in total which we cooked ourselves. The taste was good, however I would recommend asking for some rice to go with it. I would also recommend loading up on extra beef, especially if you’re not going to get a mountain of other dishes that we got. Every $5 gets you 4 slices of beef.

Overall we spent $225 between the four of us on the food listed above, as well as an additional ume chazuke ($8) and a yuzu sparkling jelly sake 180mL ($9.80). I thought that most of the entree-style food was a bit middling, but the sukiyaki, sashimi, and chazuke were good. I was initially keen to get a booth for more privacy, however they were offered at $6/person/hour, which was too much for us, especially as we had no intention of doing karaoke. The restaurant was pretty empty though, and it didn’t really make a difference in the end.

While I had a good time with my friends and colleagues, the good time did not stem from the food itself, but rather the company. I would think twice before bringing colleagues back to Lantern by Wagaya.

2.5/5 carrots.

Lantern by Wagaya
591 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9283 8828


Zushi Barangaroo – Barangaroo NSW Japanese Tasting Menu Review

My partner was recently accepted onto the anaesthetic training program for 2021, and we broke our own rules on not going out in order to celebrate. We had the $85pp tasting menu at Zushi Barangaroo, which we were able to enjoy after 30 minutes of circling the CBD to find a park. Allow me to explain.

We started off with the sashimi special, which was sliced raw whitefish with a chili ponzu dipping sauce, and garnished with some flying fish roe. I found this dish to be acceptable in freshness, and enjoyed the fish more alone than I did with the sauce.

The tuna tataki was seared yellowfin akami, crusted with sesame seeds and topped with fried leek and shisho cress. We have always been suckers for seared tuna, and enjoyed this dish. We would’ve kept the sauce too, had they not taken it away from us.

The chef’s selection of sashimi was a selection of sashimi selected by the chef. It was fresh and tasty, but certainly not a standout. There was nothing particularly fancy about this dish, a staple if you will. There are no irregularities to report.

I enjoyed the seared Hokkaido scallop in yuzu soy broth. The scallops were sweet, and complemented well by the sour-salty sauce. The radish puree was also sweet and complementary.

The corn ribs and the prawn tempura were the most divisive dishes of the meal. My partner absolutely loved the corn ribs, roasted and covered in parmesan with lime available for squeezing. She loved how juicy and sweet the corn was, and the complementary flavour of the cheese. It was certainly tempting enough for the people sitting next to us to ask what it was and order it for themselves. I’m not so much of a corn man myself so I offered one of my corns to my partner.

I enjoyed the prawn tempura. The prawns were very large and meaty, and the fluffy and fresh tempura batter was a treat. The dipping sauce and lime also worked well. I was able to trade one of my corn for one of my partners’ prawns, which produced a good result for both of us as she hates the cockroach of the sea.

The toothfish was disappointing. We were given this very small portion to share for two adults. How would we have shared it if we were just business colleagues on a business lunch? The actual quality of the toothfish was also very poor. Compared to other servings of toothfish I’ve had at other restaurants it was too firm and overcooked. I certainly expected better.

The duck teriyaki was good and provided in great quantity too. The teriyaki sauce was good with rice. I liked it more than my partner.

It is difficult to mess up white rice too badly. It mixed well with all of the different sauces we had left over. The grilled broccolini was tasty but again there was a lot of it. I did enjoy the seaweed butter flavouring but it got a bit much towards the end.

Overall we enjoyed Sushi Barangaroo. We probably wouldn’t go back for the tasting menu, but there did look to be quite a few attractive looking bentos being served for lunch. Maybe next time.

Zushi Barangaroo
10/33 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo NSW 2000
(02) 8072 7383


Kibuna – Mascot NSW Japanese Restaurant Review

Look. This is a difficult one. I’ve been to Kibuna numerous times since I’ve moved to the area. Some of their food hit well, some of them miss.

I’m a stan for their Okayama crumbed oyster. (not pictured). It is a must get.

Their soft shell crab roll is only ok.

The spicy teriyaki chicken don got me through a night shift once, it was the only thing to live for at the time, but it was not perfect.

I once had ox tongue that I thought was ox tail (what a surprise).

The swordfish collar was a daily special and a bit fishy for me.

Their ramen (not pictured) is a bit forgettable. I’ve had their pork negi chashu ramen, chicken yokozuna ramen, and their pork spicy tantan ramen and none really wowed me.

Overall a good place and I will be eating here again, hopefully eating in rather taking away. Skip the gyoza.


1123 Botany Rd, Mascot NSW 2020
(02) 8338 8688

Bakery Café Japanese

Café Cre Asion – Sydney CBD NSW Japanese Bakery Review

Manned by four people in a small industrial kitchen, Cafe Cre Asion is a hidden gem tucked around the corner behind about 16 security cameras. We went after a recent brunch for a sweet treat. They’re currently takeaway only, however it’s hard to imagine how they would manage to seat people on a normal day given their tiny footprint.

Sadly they were out of yuzu macarons, so we settled for chocolate and raspberry. I didn’t think these were very special.

Cafe Cre Asion’s cookies had a strong shortbread quality. They were very buttery and smooth, but had different textures and mouthfeels between the outer crust and the inner cookie, acting almost as two desserts in one.

Apple and cinnamon muffin

Wow. I really enjoyed this apple and cinnamon muffin. Without a hint of exaggeration this was the best muffin I’ve ever had in my entire life. Like the cookies, it felt like I was having 6 muffins in one. Each bite gave me a new experience, as I tasted the various components and textures separately. The muffin itself was very moist and light, while the muffin top had a nice and caramelised surface. Within the muffin there were pockets of cinnamon and apple which I found truly delightful. I cannot stan for this muffin enough. Please have one.

Second Visit

I returned in the middle of December 2020 to try some more baked goods after a disappointing visit to nearby Paramount Coffee Project.

All four cookies at Cafe Cre Asion

The Matcha cookie was dense with matcha flavour and not too sweet. I think it is suited more to an Eastern palate.

The Caramel and Walnut cookie is their only cookie that has “bits” in it. It is quite good, and I particularly enjoyed the walnut pieces.

Baked cheesecake

Baked cheesecake not good. Don’t get.

Swiss roll

Fruity swiss roll is pretty fruit. Light sponge roll with lots of cream. Quite nice and it almost feels like you’re not being bad with all the fruit.

Third visit

This chicken, mushroom, and wasabi mayo toastie ($13) is actually amazing. The chicken breast is so tender, complemented with the exact scientifically perfect amount of creaminess from the mild wasabi mayo. I shudder to think of just how much trial and error would’ve been neede din the lab to perfect the ratios, but it all just works so well. The lettuce, each leaf individually perfect, adds a nice fresh crisp to the sandwich, while preventing the juices of the sandwich soaking into the base layer of bread. The enoki, also great. This is sandwich science in action. I’ve never had a more perfect toastie in my life.

Despite not having any of the matcha or Japanese stuff that Cafe Cre Asion is known for, I’ve really enjoyed my two visits to date. I’d like to come back and would encourage you to do the same.

Try the muffin. It will change your mindset on muffins.

Café Cre Asion
(02) 8021 1629
101/21 Alberta St, Sydney NSW 2000