Japanese food isn't really the first thing thing that comes to mind when thinking Surry Hills, it's exactly what we're here for on a chilly weeknight.
If you've ever been on Cleveland Street, you'll probably have noticed Komachi Japanese Restaurant- the one with its front windows transformed into a wall of fame, featuring customers who have successfully completed their 1 kilo ramen challenge. There's 34 on the wall so far, but we're not quite brave enough to face the challenge- we're here to try their normal menu thanks to Washoku Lovers.
Edamamae ($5)We start of with Edamame, boiled and salted pods of young soy beans, which we quickly disappear as we nibble on these whilst flipping through the menu.
Agedashi Tofu ($5.50)
There's a couple of Japanese menu staples that we can't go past, one of them being agedashi tofu. Komachi's version does not disappoint, with four beautiful pieces of fried silken tofu sitting in a cute hot pot. It comes with a little more soup than I'm used to, which softens the batter into a rather tasty gelatinous coating.
The other item we can never get enough of is gyoza, and we're quite fond of the golden crispy bottom on these ones.
Nasu Dengaku ($9.50)
Nasu Dengaku is a thick slab of deep-fried eggplant, covered in a shiny glaze of sweet miso. Quite a simple dish, but the flavours work so well with the creamy soft eggplant. We also love that it is thoughtfully pre-cut so you can pick the pieces off with your chopsticks!
Tofu Steak ($8)
Not something you see on a typical Japanese menu, we were quite intrigued by the tofu steak. It's not quite what we had expected considering the name, but we're definitely glad we ordered it. It comes on a hot plate as six plump pieces of deep fried tofu, coated in a light potato starch batter, sitting on top a thin layer of fried egg, drizzled with BBQ sauce and mayonnaise. It's much the same as the agedashi tofu. except without being drowned in soup, it retains a delightfully crisp texture.
The sauces are quite similar to okonomiyaki/takoyaki, especially with the bonito flake topping, and the combination of the sweet sauces, egg and tofu is an unexpected winner. One of my favourites of the night- I could easily have ordered this with a bowl of rice and left a happy customer.
Sushi and Sashimi Platter ($38)
Sushi is recommended to us, so we thought we're try the sushi and sahimi platter, which is a selection of the day's fresh sashimi, nigiri and sushi rolls. It's presented quite beautifully and includes a good variety of salmon, tuna, kingfish, scallop, grilled eel, prawn and inari. The fish is quite fresh, and there's quite a bit of detail in the neat score marks on the salmon which impart an additional textural contrast.
Chashu Pork Ramen ($15.50)
With the recent cold weather, the ramen is quite popular, and we notice quite a few other diners ordering it. We try the chashu pork ramen, which comes in a miso meat stock broth topped with sliced roasted pork and vegetables. It doesn't quite compare with some of my favourite ramen shops in Sydney, but definitely does the job of satisfying one's ramen cravings. We did wish it was a little bigger though.
Una Ju ($21)
I'm a huge fan of eel so it wasn't difficult to decide on my main. It's the first time I've heard the term Una Ju as we usually see it on Japanese menus as Una Don but a little bit of googling explained that this is the term used when it is served in a lacquered box.
Interestingly, Komachi's version comes with the eel diced into tiny pieces which makes it a little different to eat, almost like chirashi in the sense that you can mix it around. The lack of bones made it particularly easy to eat, and the soy glaze on the eel was addictively tasty.
Komachi also does a deal on drinks for any members of Washoku Lovers- simply flash your membership card and you'll get your first drink for free. Quite a sweet deal since this includes alcohol- they even have Japanese beers!