Roppongi Japanese Restaurant – Wollongong NSW Restaurant Review

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


Yakitori Jin – Haberfield NSW Restaurant Review

There aren’t that many places to get yakitori in Sydney, especially if you’re looking anywhere even moderately west. Yakitori Jin, a tiny restaurant tucked away in Haberfield, stands on its own as an accessible, high-quality inner-West izakaya.

The assorted today’s sashimi ($26) was quite good. It featured thick cuts of salmon, kingfish, somewhat-fatty tuna, and scallop, and worked out to be quite good value for money, especially in view of the tuna.

The pickled white fish was nice.

Hiding on the special’s board was o-toro sashimi, which was on offer for 4 pieces for $28, or 6 pieces for $42. $7 a piece is honestly quite cheap for this kind of fish. Chu-toro is also on offer for the slightly more price conscious.

I wasn’t a big fan of this salmon tataki thing. I thought that the marinade was too strong, and the flavours too intense, drowning out the flavour of the salmon.

The ebi chilli mayo ($18) was so good that my ebi-hating partner even had more than one piece. The tempura batter was light and crunchy, and the sauce complementary rather than overpowering.

The chicken karaage ($13) was economical, though I thought the texture and cooked-ness were a bit overdone. The rest of the table liked it though.

The home made yaki gyoza were good, though the prize for the best gyoza I’ve had in Sydney still goes to Nakano Darling.

The scallop with miso butter (2 for $12) were good, though expensive. The scallops were tender and cooked well, and the miso flavours complimentary to the seafood.

And now to the yakitori and kushiyaki.

The wagyu tri-tip ($10 each) was juicy and tender. Much larger in size than ones you may get at competing restaurants.

The negima (chicken thigh and leek) ($6 each) has always been my go-to, and Yakitori Jin’s did not disappoint, offering up juicy pieces of thigh and chunky umami leek glazed with tare.

The enoki mushroom with pork kushiyaki ($5 each) was a bit difficult to eat in view of the long fibrous strands of enoki, but ultimately very juicy and tasty.

The chicken wings ($5 each) were slightly crispy on the skin and extremely juicy inside. A bit of a mess to eat with colleagues, but absolutely delicious and my partner’s favourite.

Of all of the things we ordered, this was one of the only things we didn’t really like. The mune mentai mayo yakitori ($6 each) was a bit drier than the chicken thigh and wing based yakitori, owing to the use of chicken breast. The spicy mentai mayo added a degree of wetness texture-wise which was welcome, however flavour-wise was not.

These dry-aged salmon tail skewers ($8) were also a bit fishy and not excellent.

I can actually highly recommend giving Yakitori Jin a visit. It’s not a cheap meal – we spent $75 per person including a 300mL bottle of sake and 0.75 beers each – but quite good.

PS It’s worth making a call if there are no open bookings online.


My partner and I enjoyed our first visit to Yakitori Jin so much that we went back, about a year later. We rarely make second visits to restaurants, given the variety and quality of food on offer in Sydney.

We were treated to this sesame-seasoned cabbage just for sitting down.

The bluefin tuna tasting plate ($28) consisting of 2 pieces each of toro, chu-toro, and akami was appropriately priced and served with some good quality wasabi.

It is physically impossible to keep my fiancé from a good croquette, and only a fool would try. These crab flavoured cream croquettes ($12) were in fact quite creamy and potato-y, crab flavoured but lacking for some more crab, in my opinion. She loved them.

The Miso-marinated black cod lettuce wraps (2 for $12) were good, with nice oiliness of the cod really coming through. Satisfied my toothfish cravings, or at least kicked them down the road for a couple of months.

My partner wanted none of the gizzard (tare) ($4). It was fine. Gizzardy.

I didn’t think I would enjoy the sasami ume mayo ($6 each), and I was correct. Every time I’ve had yakitori tenderloin I’ve been disappointed by the dryness, and I truly believe that thigh is the best kind of flesh for grilling by yakitori. Though the plum and mayonnaise helped moisten these skewers, it would’ve just been better as thigh.

The Wagyu Tri-Tip Skewer with Mustard Miso ($12) was seriously good. Thick cut, tender, juicy. A bit on the pricier side but definitely worth trying.

The Fremantle Octopus Skewer ($9) was tender and creamy, but I probably wouldn’t pay $9 for it again.

We enjoyed the kamameshi ($22) which is essentially a bowl of rice topped with flying fish roe, pickles, seaweed, and shallot. Fragrant and flavourful, full of umami goodness and the textural fun of popping-candy like flying fish roe.

The Meat ball with mild boiled egg ($7). Who would’ve thought such a thing would be so good? Loved the silky texture of the egg over the meat. Can definitely recommend it.

The chicken skin (tare) ($5) was not better than negima. I would be happy for a 60% negima meal.

The wing (tare) ($5) I feel should’ve been priced at greater than $5 beacvuse it was huge, juicy, meaty and delicious. At the same price as a skewer of skin.

A year on, it’s still good. One of my favourite places in Sydney, and thankfully not on the wrong side of the bridge for us mere mortals.

Yakitori Jin
101 Ramsay St, Haberfield NSW 2045
(02) 8057 2780


Sekka Dining – St Leonards NSW Restaurant Review

As a fan of Japanese food unfortunately trapped on the wrong side of the Harbour Bridge, Sekka had been on my list of restaurants to try for some time. I finally found myself in St Leonards following a day of meetings at a nearby state ministry (the room where it happens), and ignoring my friend WKS’ advice, sat down for a meal at Sekka.

It turns out I probably should have listened.

We started our meal with a number of snacks, the first of which was the scallops in soy chimichurri and shiso ($3.50 each). These were quite good, with good flavour and a well-grilled but not too grilled texture.

Our next morsel was the M8 Wagyu yakitori with onions (2 for $16). While there was nothing wrong with the way these yakitori was cooked (see the cross-section for the nice rarity of meat), the meat was actually quite a bit tougher than expected. I guess that’s what happens when they specify “M8 Wagyu” but not the actual cut of meat provided.

The chicken thigh (skin on) yakitori with ginger and shallot dressing (2 for $14) should have been good, but despite everything in their favour were ultimately middling. The actual chicken of it was quite good – juicy on the inside, crispy skin on the outside. It was in fact so juicy that I burnt my tongue on the juices inside, though that was no one’s fault but my own, it was the path I’d chosen to go. The ultimate problem with this yakitori was, in my opinion, the general lack of flavour to the meat. It could’ve really done with a bit of salt or some tare, and while ginger and shallot is one of my top Asian flavourings I just don’t think it really goes that well with this kind of chicken (it’s great on Hainanese chicken rice, though).

Perhaps most disappointing of all was Sekka’s much lauded chicken wing gyoza (2 for $15). Essentially a chicken wing stuffed with prawn and deep fried (there is a mention of truffle on their menu but I’m not sure where that was hidden), these would’ve been good were they not so blandly flavoured. Frequent readers of this blog know that I prefer lighter flavours than most, but even then these winged gyoza could’ve done with a bit more.

After a procession of minimally inspiring entrees, our main course, the hojicha smoked duck ramen ($23), was actually amazing. The soup flavours were clear, vibrant and balanced, with neither the smoke nor the spicy shansho nor the tea flavours overplaying their weight. The semi-boiled egg was a umami treat, as was each slice of smoked duck breast, each presented with a sliver of skin and fat. Even the noodles were good. This was such a great bowl of ramen that I immediately regretted filling up on all those fried and grilled sides. I would’ve loved to have tried some of their other ramens.

Go, but skip the small plates and head straight for the ramen. That’s where the money is.

Sekka Dining
Shop 1, St Leonards Square, 472-488 Pacific Hwy, St Leonards NSW 2065
(02) 8054 9788


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

Japanese Korean

Kumiho – Parramatta NSW Restaurant Review

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.

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).


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.

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.

5 tails / 1 fox

140 Marsden St, Parramatta NSW 2150
(02) 8872 5070