Izakaya Samurai, Neutral Bay

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

It used to seem to me that Japanese restaurants fell into either the higher-priced, contemporary dining category (Sokyo and Sake come to mind) or were fast, cheap eateries which offered sushi trains and bento boxes.

Izakaya Samurai falls into neither of these stereotypes. With traditional classics on the menu alongside fusion, east-meets-west style fare, it is both a family friendly eatery and venue ideal for intimate dinners. 

While the special kid’s corner attracts the young ones, sake connoisseurs can appreciate the ornate, backlit drinks display which separates the kitchen from the dining space.

A DIY ordering system is enabled by the tablets which adorn every table – navigate through the user-friendly sub headings to view images of the dishes and select what you like. This not only ensures you know what exactly what it is you are ordering, but also adds a bit of fun to the dining experience. 

Asahi Dry Zero ($5.00)
The drinks menu is just as expansive as the food menu, with an impressive selection of non-alcoholic beverages. Not thinking of drinking? A mug of Asahi Dry Zero has the same satisfying beer taste, only not as strong and without the added alcohol.

Green Tea Sake (on the rocks, $5.80)
Green Tea Sake is where Japan’s infamous love affair with Matcha diffuses into the realm of alcohol. This drink gives you the best of both worlds; the initial refreshing, sweet green tea flavour giving way to a subtle sake aftertaste.

 Green Tea Sake (with milk, $6.80)
It’s also offered with a small jug of milk, which makes for a more creamy drink which is not dissimilar to that of an ice cool Matcha latte. 

Pork Belly Bun Samurai ($6.20 each)
Hitching a ride on the bao bandwagon, this pork belly bun is deliciously sweet and moreish. A thick, chunky piece of teriyaki pork belly is offset by the crunch of fresh lettuce and tomato. It’s easy to eat and the bun is sizeable compared to other ones we’ve tried elsewhere. This is a prime contemporary example of the kind of bar snack Izakayas are known for.

Grilled seafood tacos ($8.80 for two)
Following on the finger food theme, grilled seafood tacos are a mouthful of textures and flavours. Slightly smoky, charred cubes of sashimi are tossed in a light teriyaki and mayonnaise dressing with a hint of chilli and aromatic onion. The shell is impossibly light and bubbly which makes it a little hard to eat, but the tacos are an ingenious fusion of east and west nonetheless.

 Salmon Carpaccio ($13.80)
This intriguing dish combines Italian and Japanese cuisine all in one. Creamy slices of sashimi go well with the sharp, pale green wasabi, while a drizzle of balsamic adds sweet undertones. The tomato and onion salsa on top sings of fragrant basil; it’s a surprising combination which works well. 

Agedashi Eggplant ($8.80)
Steaming hot eggplant arrives immersed in an Agedashi-style sauce that’s salty and sweet. A mound of grated radish melts away onto the silky soft eggplant. It’s a tasty take on traditional Agedashi tofu which, although not lightly battered and deep-fried, is something you’ll want to order again and again. 

Tofu and seaweed salad ($10.80)
A delicate arrangement of quivering silken tofu, wakame and seaweed salad on a mix of salad leaves is refreshing and extremely satisfying. There’s a lot of seaweed salad with a strong hit of sesame oil, complemented by the light sesame dressing on the tofu. Mix it all up to enjoy the mix of creamy tofu, fresh lettuce and crunchy seaweed. 

 Tonkotsu ramen ($14.80)
Contrary to many traditional Japanese restaurants which specialise in a specific type of food (sushi, bar food, rice bowls), Izakaya Samurai branches out into all realms of Washoku. And they do it well, too - Tonkotsu ramen is flavoursome, hearty and tasty, with homemade pork chashu that has just the right amount of fattiness. 

Half a soy sauce egg and a sprinkle of ginger pickles on top add an extra dimension of flavour and texture to accompany the perfectly cooked, wavy noodles.

Ice Cream Daifuku ($3.80)
Take of bite of the creamy, ice cold vanilla ice cream enveloped in a stretchy, chewy mochi skin, and this dessert will fast become one of your favourites. It’s the perfect size, and sweetens the palette without being too heavy or filling. There will also be a special house-made chocolate gateau featured on the menu in time for Valentine's Day this weekend!

Izakaya Samurai takes the concept of traditional Japanese Izakaya and turns it on its head, infusing it with eastern and contemporary flavours and techniques. It's an ingenious and well executed idea that spans the breadth of the menu and is what helps make the restaurant so universally attractive to Washoku* lovers everywhere. 


Izakaya Samurai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

*Washoku means Japanese cuisine in Japanese.

I was lucky enough to be invited to dine as a guest of Washoku Lovers, but all opinions are my own. 

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  1. It really was! Probably one of my favourite drinks now!

  2. I love the look of all the dishes!
    It's great to have a choice between high price or shopping centre sushi! Love the look of the Pork Belly Buns!!! ...So good!!

    Thanks for sharing
    Gourmet Getaways