The suburbs North of the bridge are full of Japanese-flavoured adventures, however they are can be difficult to access to us mere mortals. My South Eastern Sydney colleagues had previously had dinner at Spanish Sakaba, but missed out on their famous wagyu ramen. We therefore made a special decision to cross the bridge for a second time as a group to give it a go.
The Yuzu slushy ($8.80) was quite good, but very expensive and small.
The deep fried wagyu gyoza (4 for $10) were pretty good. The filling was more complex than the usual cabbage pork stuff that you get at most Japanese restaurants in Sydney. My brave senior colleague had the great idea to ask for an extra gyoza for an extra fee, so that we could each have one.
We each ordered a Trio Wagyu Ramen ($29.29), which was served in a large, hat-like dish (see above). This was a mixture of oxtail, sliced beef, and tri-tip in a thick chicken and beef soup. I liked this, however thought that the fatty meats made the soup too thick and rich. Apparently the wagyu oxtail ramen without the other two meats comes with a lighter soup.
The chef served the five of us a complimentary wagyu salad with horseradish dressing. In my opinion this was actually the best dish of the meal, and we were so surprised that we were offered it for free. It was really delicious, and it had plenty of just-charred meat. The horseradish dressing added a great flavour to the dish. I would honestly pay for this if I could, but I don’t think it’s even on the menu.
The Angus Beef Katsu with Chips ($27.80) was not what I expected. First off, $28 is a super expensive for a burger and chips. My colleague who had been here before said that it was a classic Japanese burger – I thought this would be some epic level hamburg. What it actually was was a katsu crumbed beef steak with cabbage and tonkatsu sauce. I thought it was good, but not great, and definitely not $28 great. The chips were fine. Normal shoestring chips.
The Chips with Osaka sauce ($7.50) were just fine. Neither strong nor weak.
My overall verdict is: good, expensive. Avoid beef burger. Get beef salad (try to order off the menu)
PROLOGUE Picture this. It’s my 26th birthday, just about to cap off two years of living and working in Western Sydney. One of the shining highlights of the Deep West has been Kumiho, a small and casual Korean-Japanese restaurant that I had only eaten at once but at which I had savoured each bite. It might not be my girlfriend’s favourite Japanese restaurant in the area (that prize would go to Touka), but it is mien. I ask my girlfriend if we can go. She says no. We order some pizza instead.
It was twelve months later, after a year in the Eastern Suburbs tasting everything that the Inner West and CBD had to offer, that we found ourselves back in Parramatta, looking at apartments and planning our move back to the West. My partner, after some incessant nagging, finally agreed to let me go back to Kumiho and let me tell you – even after all of the Japanese food I’ve had this year, Kumiho is still among the best I’ve ever had.
GENERAL COMMENTS Kumiho is a mixed Korean and Japanese restaurant, providing authentic East Asian cuisine in a relaxed bar and restaurant setting. While it is part of the same group of restaurants as Sushi Hotaru, Wagaya, and Lantern, each venue offers a distinct dining experience – Kumiho being my favourite. Ordering is via tablet located at each table, a signature trait of these restaurants and helpful for those times when you just don’t want to interact with anyone. Service is fast, though it seems that the restaurant only has two jugs of water to share between all of its patrons, and as such you may be waiting for a long time for your water to be refilled. (No doubt at least in part to encourage you to buy drinks).
DISH BY DISH DIVE
The Tuna Tataki ($15) is brilliant. The outside edges are perfectly seared, with the inside retaining its sashimi quality. The tuna is fresh, high quality maguro, and the sauces complimented the flavour of the fish without overpowering it. Much better than the mess of failures in the seared tuna at COOH in Alexandria – a meal I’m still salty about.
The Unagi (Eel) Tempura ($9.20) was freshly fried, light and crispy. Each bite was filled with delicious umami flavours, and though it was smothered mayonnaise and tempura sauce I didn’t find it to be too overflavoured.
The Wagyu Bulgogi Hot Pot ($17) was quite good, and well priced for the size. My one complaint is that while I’m sure it was wagyu as advertised, I don’t think the fact that it was wagyu really added anything to the dish – the meat was not marbled at all.
The white fish with Korean miso handroll ($3.20) was a handroll of mystery fish and sesame leaf. The size was good for the price, but I don’t think either of us really enjoyed the unnamed white fish. Despite this, the rice and seaweed were of good quality. It’s a shame, though, and I think I’d still like to try some of their other handrolls.
The salmon belly nigiri ($2.50 per piece) was only slightly more expensive than the vanilla salmon nigiri, and well worth the upgrade. The salmon belly, complete with invisible flavour cuts, had a great texture and rich flavour. The kingfish belly nigiri ($3 per piece) was good, but unfortunately overshadowed by the salmon belly which provided a more special mouthfeel at a cheaper price (though it’s always good to have variety).
The Chicken Paitan Cloudy Ramen ($16.80) is an unfortunately weak temporary addition to Kumiho’s menu. Offered as part of a trial promotion, the ramen didn’t have much flavour other than salt and pepper. The pieces of chicken, whilst immersed in fluid, were paradoxically dry, and I hope this doesn’t become a permanent fixture on Kumiho’s otherwise good menu.
The Seafood Bowl with Miso Soup ($17) is an excellent chirashi don style deal with an assortment of sashimi (salmon, kingfish, and tuna) atop a bed of sushi rice and topped with some soy and chopped shallots. The pieces of fish were very generous in size and the ratio of fish to rice was on point. The miso soup was a warming and wholesome bonus to an already great bowl. A strong recommendation from me.
Both the Wagyu Skewer ($6) and Pork Belly Skewers ($4) were quite good and much better priced than most other restaurants. The beef was thick cut, not tiny peasant pieces at exorbitant rates as seen at places like Fugetsu and, oddly enough, Kumiho’s sister restaurant Lantern. The pork was thick and juicy, and the supplied white miso dipping sauce added a nice touch of umami. Both were good buys, though the pork was a bit better.
I quite liked the vegetable tempura ($11). Unlike most tempura dishes I’ve had in recent times, Kumiho’s tempura doesn’t take the easy way out by frying a bunch of root vegetables. Instead, Kumiho’s vegetable tempura features 2 pieces each of red capsicum, green capsicum, shittake mushroom, and carrot – a refreshing change, and a great selection of less-starchy vegetables.
The truffle kingfish sashimi ($15) is an experimental dish similar in vein to the tuna tartare, with diced sashimi kingfish, diced avocado, fried garnish, crispy seaweed, and truffled sauce in a large bowl. Whilst my partner liked the truffle flavours and thought that this was the rare dish in which truffle wasn’t just for added for show, I didn’t really like this as much as I did the tuna tartare reviewed above. It just felt a bit plain.
The aburi salmon nigiri (5 pieces for $11) features large, slightly thicker pieces of salmon with minimal sauce. They were great, especially considering that many restaurants make the mistake of drowning their aburi salmon in mayonnaise and tare.
The Korean pork bossam ($15) is a well priced and portioned plate, featuring pieces of fatty and lean pork, kimchi, cabbage, and shiso leaf for wrapping. The salad elements were fresh, and the meat generally well cooked, with the exception of some of the smaller morsels of pork which were a bit dry and overcooked. It is, however, overall a passing dish.
EPILOGUE Kumiho provides great tasting Japanese and Korean food at a great price, with quality comparable to or exceeding its competitors in the Parramatta region. Keep your eyes peeled on this page as it gets updated throughout the year. I’m going to be living 3 kilometres away for the next twelve months. I’ll be sure to go back again and again.
As huge fans of Kurumac, my partner and I have been looking for an excuse to eat at Cool Mac for some time. We finally found ourselves on the fancy side of the bridge during our annual leave, and stopped at Cool Mac on the way to the zoo for a quick breakfast.
Service at Cool Mac was not as good or friendly as at its younger brother. Perhaps we didn’t fit in with the suited up business and government types that frequent Cool Mac, but we didn’t really feel like we were paid much attention. There was not really much table service. There was a menu printed outside the restaurant, and ordering was at the counter. This made it difficult as my working short term memory is apparently very poor. Payment was expected at time of ordering.
The Crumbed whiting, miso salmon, egg, pickles, cod roe, rice ($18) was the better dish of the two we had. I really enjoyed the crumbed whiting and egg, and thought that they went well with the preserved vegetables and rice. I did think, however, that the salmon was too overcooked and dry, and let the bowl down as a whole.
I had mixed but ultimately negative feelings about the pork belly, seaweed, coriander, soy broth, dry ramen ($17). While I enjoyed the flavour, the huge amount of coriander, and the noodles mixed in with the small quantity of soup, the headlining element – the pork belly – was a massive letdown. Similar to the salmon above, the pork was dry and tough.
The barley tea with huge ice cube ($4) was good, as was the large cappuccino ($4.80).
I’m ultimately quite disappointed by cool mac. We went in having high hopes after absolutely enjoying our time at Kurumac, but our none of the food we had at cool mac was very good.
We dined in early July 2020, just as COVID-19 social distancing restrictions had started to be eased in NSW. I was very impressed by Manpuku’s commitment to hygiene and social distancing, and even looking back on our visit four months later the care that they took to protect their patrons and staff was outstanding.
Okonomi sticks (2 for $7) , with bonito, sauce, mayonnaise were way too sauced and tasty for me. Good portion size for price, but I wasn’t a fan.
Gyoza were completely non-memorable
The Karaage Curry ($18) was the most special Japanese curry I have ever eaten. The chicken karaage was stock standard, good. What was special was the curry sauce, which had beef meat and offal stewed inside it, giving it a complex and beefy taste. The serving was quite large, and the ratio of curry sauce and chicken karaage to rice was perfect. I can recommend it.
Manpuku’s self-proclaimed specialty ramen is the Kono Deaini Kanshashite Aijou to Jonetsu Komete Isshoukenmei Tsukutta Uchirano Icchan Sukina Manpuku Shiawase Ramen. This name does not actually describe the ingredients, which is a ramen with soy based chicken and pork broth. They say that they are the only store that has this ramen, however I guess any restaurant could say the same if they strung together random words in a row. I didn’t think the ramen tasted really special. Their curry was more suited to be called a specialty.