Japanese Korean Uncategorized

Hiroba – Strathfield NSW Restaurant Review

My partner was keen for some Japanese and I some Korean – from the outside, Hiroba’s little shop hugging the wall of Strathfield train station seemed like the perfect compromise.

Following in the tradition of Korean people serving Japanese food, Hiroba offers an extensive Japanese menu with the addition of some Korean restaurant staples. The Japanese izakaya style decor and Japanese translations on the menu provided an illusion that did not last long, shattered as soon as we unexpectedly received banchan upon ordering.

We initially pondered ordering a sushi or sashimi set, but decided on a la carte nigiri instead, making sure that our food was all thriller and no filler. The salmon, salmon belly, tuna, and snapper nigiri was all good and fresh, with thick and generous pieces of each. The tuna I thought was a bit expensive, coming in at $8 for two pieces, whilst the rest was reasonably priced ($5 for two pieces).

The mixed tempura (medium size) came with three tempura prawns and a mixture of what was mostly tempura tubers. Though freshly cooked, i thought the quality of the tempura was only middling, and felt that it was not as light and airy as good tempuras can be. We were saddened by the lack of variety in the tempura vegetables, with mostly root vegetables on offer. The only thing that really stood out was a single piece of tempura enoki – otherwise all of the tempura vegetables were quite samey.

I didn’t really like the flavour of the Ox Beef Soup, though if I’m being honest that could very well be more of a personal preference. The entire soup had a smoked taste, owing to what looked like sliced silverside beef on the inside. The overall theme of this soup could be described as wholesome feeling but not great tasting, though I did catch the chef having his own sit down meal of this soup. I assume the chef wouldn’t eat something not good, so it’s probably just our own preference that led us to not like this.

While the sushi at Hiroba was indeed good, would I go back again? Probably not. Strathfield holds a huge untapped potential of East Asian cuisine, and Hiroba just didn’t stand out enough for me to go back. I’d rather try something new.

1 Albert Rd, Strathfield NSW 2135
(02) 9763 1222


Sashimi Shinsengumi 刺身新鮮組 – Crows Nest NSW Restaurant Review

My partner took us to this paint and sip thing in Crows Nest, which was great because it meant that I finally got to try the Sashimi Shinsengumi takeaway platter from around the corner. Though I’ve never gotten my act together or friends in a row to book out their restaurant for omakase, this $140 of nigiri (2x$50+1x$40 sets) made for a reasonable substitute. While I think that a little bit of variety would have been nice in the form of temaki or other things, the price to performance ratio here was pretty good, with generous servings of all fish provided. My partner, who I think has a bias against sushi that’s not eaten within a restaurant, would tell you that the sushi lost points the moment it left the door, but I think it retained its freshness and quality by the time we ate it.

This was way better than the other paint and sip ladies’ cheeseboards.

Sashimi Shinsengumi 刺身新鮮組
5/7-11 Clarke St, Crows Nest NSW 2065
0402 359 697


Kyo Sushi Bar – Wentworth Point NSW Restaurant Review

Kyo Sushi Bar is a small sushi-train restaurant with a surprising variety of dishes and an even more surprising selection of premium tuna cuts on their specials menu.

The chawanmushi egg custard ($5.90) was delicious, silky, and full of umami, a great warm way to start our meal.

This gunkan ($4.30), I want to say lobster salad, was unmemorable except for the quantity of mayonnaise, which as you will read is a recurring theme at this restaurant.

The salmon uni open roll ($8.40) was really heavily mayonnaised and I don’t think had enough uni to even mention. I would recommend a strong avoidance of this.

The soft shell crab hand roll ($6.30) had a good quantity of crab, but sadly also suffered from the restaurant’s habit of over-mayonnaising.

Why does the grilled salmon nigiri ($4.70) come with mayonnaise?

No complaints about this spicy chicken karaage ($4.70), which came with spicy mayo but appropriately. Pricing was reasonable for the portion size, which I’m glad was small because we really didn’t need this on top of all the other food we had.

In amongst all of the low-tier mayoed-up sushi was this gem of chu-toro nigiri ($10 for 2 pieces), which came with real wasabi and huge slabs of tuna with excellent taste and mouthfeel. Incredible.

The toro nigiri ($10 for a single piece) I actually didn’t find to be as pleasant as the chu-toro, owing to the higher amount of connective tissue. Call me an uncultured fool, but in my opinion the chu-toro is where the price and quality intersect peaks.

I don’t understand how the same restaurant can serve so much badness drenched in mayonnaise, but at the same time serve such good quality fatty tuna from their specials menu at such a good price. Kyo’s Sushi Bar is definitely a restaurant worth visiting, but with a strong caveat. (Though perhaps you can just ask for your food to not be so mayonnised.)

Kyo’s Sushi Bar
2 Burroway Rd, Wentworth Point NSW 2127
(02) 8866 1044


Sushi Train – Maroubra NSW Restaurant Review

I had such a bad meal at Sushi Train in Maroubra that I just needed to come home and tell you all about it straight away. This is posted some time after the meal, but the content was written contemporaneously.

First, praise needs to be given to the best parts of the meal – the attentive service and the filtered, iced, table water.

The ambience and decor was also nice.

Next, we must move onto the food.

This aburi salmon “volcano” nigiri was our first and in my view probably one of the only pieces that was not awful, owing to the fact that it was drenched in mayonnaise and able to drown out the heavily disappointing rice.

This chicken katsu and cream cheese inside out roll with spicy seasoning on top was also very bad. The chicken felt old, cold, and dry. It did not appeal to me at all.

This is a layered sushi with avocado and aburi salmon, coated in a heavy layer of sauce. My partner found this acceptable, and ordered two of these dishes in favour of others, however I thought it was still quite bad.

The salmon roe (ikura) gunkan wrapped in salmon seemed like it was off to a good start, however with the entire morsel in my mouth it became clear that it was far too salty – probably from the ikura marinade/preservation fluids.

I had high hopes for the uni gunkan (sea urchin), but it just didn’t taste good. It was bitter rather than sweet, and had a strange and unpleasant taste that seems to be the difference between the good quality stuff and the cheap stuff.

The maguro tuna nigri was more bitter than sweet, a problem that I had with a lot of the a la carte nigiri at Sushi Train Maroubra. The serving size of tuna was large and generous, however the quality wasn’t good. Having straight fish on rice really accentuated the low quality of the rice – and the huge quantity. The rice was dry, almost stale tasting, and ruined every subsequent plate.

This is the tako (octopus) nigri. The slices of octopus were extremely difficult to chew, and it did not seem like much consideration was taken in the preparation of the octopus to provide a morsel that was actually edible. After chewing on my octopus for at least 90 seconds straight I gave up. This nigiri also fell victim to the awful rice.

The engawa nigiri was fatty and good, however again let down by the rice.

Ultimately we had a very bad meal at Sushi Train Maroubra – so bad in fact that it helped us to limit our ordering. We would normally spend more as a couple at a place like Sushi Rio or Sushi Hotaru, as the food in these places is much better. A special call out needs to be made for the awful quality rice which left its stain on every morsel it touched, especially in the volume in which it was used.

Sushi Train Maroubra
Shop 2/944 Anzac Parade, Maroubra NSW 2035
(02) 8347 0788


Gold Class Daruma – Sydney NSW Omakase Restaurant Review

After an aborted attempt at omakase at Gold Class Daruma during the COVID-19 delta outbreak in 2021, my partner and I were finally able to make our way there to experience Chef Yuta Nakamura’s lunch omakase in early 2022.

We started with some kind of beverage. I don’t really know what to tell you. I only had a small sip. I’ve kind of stopped drinking.

Our appetizer was a small, four shaped star plate with tiger prawn, octopus, and spicy cod roe. The cod roe sack was served slightly torched, and though found it to have too strong and salty a flavour for my liking, much preferring such sea eggs mixed with land eggs in a sort of mentai mayo execution. The octopus and prawn were much milder and more enjoyable, with a nice nuttiness exhibited by the prawn and a kind of olive-oil flavour from the tender octopus.

Our next dish was a sashimi dish featuring kingfish, salmon, mildly seared tuna, and seaweed, smoked in front of us on the bench. The smoked flavour was present though ultimately missable if the whole affair didn’t occur before our eyes. The seaweed had an unexpected but appealing apple-like flavour.

Next up was grilled alfonsino collar, though its identity remained a mystery to both us and the diners next to us for some time. It was only when we asked Chef Yuta to repeat himself that he brought out his labelled diagram of the fish and the guy next to me stopped pretending to know what it was. This part of the alfonsino, also known as imperador, was quite oily and mildly fishy. My partner and I were not the biggest fans of this for the fish itself, but we did appreciate the seasoning as well as the yummy pickles that accompanied it.

I’ve never been disappointed by chawanmushi, and this iteration with abalone was no exception, with its silky warming texture and strongly umami flavours.

This is a box of sea creatures about to be placed on rice, divided between four patrons. The fact that Chef Yuta, arguably the most popular chef at Gold Class Daruma, only had the four of us for his lunch seating is quite interesting, as it means that it is difficult for them to achieve the economies of scale that omakase chefs with booked out seatings of six or even eight diners can achieve.

On offer nigiri-wise was a selection of alfonsino, bonito, see eel, paradise prawn, oyster, scallop, kingfish, travelly, cuttlefish, and o-toro. All pieces of nigiri were of a top standard, with fresh fish and perfect warm rice. The cuttlefish did not tickle my partner’s fancy, and she had quite a visceral reaction to its slimy texture, though I personally enjoyed how creamy it was. The bonito was an extremely soft mouthful, and kingfish belly was aburied to further accentuate its oiliness more.

I’m long thought that I might be mildly allergic to raw crustaceans, but steeled myself for my encounter with this raw paradise prawn, which proved to be sweet and non-deadly. The aburi scallop was served with yuzu kosho on top.

The nigiri course was interrupted by a small ikura hand roll.

The nigiri course was capped off with o-otoro topped with caviar, and a great grilled sea eel nigiri that was surprisingly meaty with a non-oily, flaky texture.

The sea urchin and mashed tuna hand roll, with tuna mashed before our eyes was quite good and of an equal standard to other rolls served at other restaurants. I will note that unlike competitors Kuon and Hachijoi Chef Yuta chose to separate the ikura from the uni and toro, serving them as two rolls rather than combined into one.

The miso soup, nearing the end of our meal had a sweet, tare-like flavour.

I didn’t really go to Gold Class Daruma expecting an amazing dessert, and my expectations were therefore fulfilled when we received this mixed plate of yuzu sorbet (good but I feel like it was probably from a tub – happy to be corrected), red bean (which my partner, red-bean hater, liked), matcha cake (quite good actually), and yuzu jelly (which tasted like nothing).

For $110 pp I feel that Chef Yuta’s omakase at Gold Class Daruma is pretty reasonable. I must admit though that I didn’t love the smoked dish, the mentaiko, or the dessert, and it is highly possible that Gold Class Daruma’s reasonably priced a la carte offerings (ie. $50 for 10 piece nigiri from Chef Yuta) may be even better.

I’d still go again, either for a la carte or for omakase by one of the other chefs.

Gold Class Daruma
The Grace Sydney, Level 1/77 York St, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9262 1190