Wollongong instituion for over thirty years and recommended by some guy on Reddit as the best Japanese food in Wollongong, Roppongi was the first restaurant we ever dined in at in Wollongong following the October 2021 COVID-19 repoening. It didn’t live up to the hype.
While Roppongi looks quite casual from the outside, its interior is well designed, with plenty of wood panelling and features that lend a more traditional Japanese vibe to the place. There are two separate dining rooms, and after our vaccination records were checked we were lead to a timber floored room where we were instructed to remove our shoes before entering the dining room where we had the option of sitting on the floor, or for the less flexible of us, dangling our legs under the table.
The combination sashimi ($18) was the most impressive dish of the night, with fresh tasting fish and what I think was likely freshly ground wasabi. The real deal.
The vegetable tempura ($14.80) was unexpected. Most of the time when we order vegetable tempura we are given discrete slices of vegetables that have been coated in tempura batter and deep fried. Roppongi’s version was served as clumps of shredded vegetables mashed together, giving it a quality reminiscent of those vague deep fried vegetable patties. Also strange to this dish was that roughly thirty minutes later we were served a bowl of udon soup to go with it, only to have the waiter return after a few more minutes, ask us if we’d touched it, and take it down to the next table. Keep in mind this was only a day after the state started lifting out of its COVID-19 restrictions.
The Vinegared Combination ($12) of vinegar-marinated cucumber and seafoods was quite nice, though I feel they could’ve cleaned the mussels more as I definitely had to spit some beard out of my mouth. On top of this, I felt that the choice to add seafood extender to an otherwise quite nice dish of sea animals was a strange one that kind of cheapened the vibe of the entire dish.
The featured component of the Teppanyaki Beef Rolls ($16.80) was quite nice, with tender juicy beef wrapped around garlic and spring onions. The side component, the stir fried vegetables, were pretty disappointing and reminiscent of something you’d get from a cheap Chinese takeaway, with plenty of low-cost bulk added through onion.
The Chicken Skewers ($8) with onion and capsicum were, as you an see here, a little burnt. The flavour of the soy saue on the chicken was good, but the burntness of the vegetables as well as the reappearance of onion in this dish let it down.
Ultimately I was disappointed. While the sashimi was truly good, the rest of our meal was quite off-kilter, and if this is the best Japanese food that Wollongong has to offer then Sydney is only 70km down the road.
Roppongi Japanese Restaurant
1/102 Market St, Wollongong NSW 2500
(02) 4226 3243