If there's one dish you must order at Izakaya Fujiyama, it's the tuna jaw. This behemoth of bones, fin, gills and cartilage is one of life's pleasures - a testament that good eating can be found in the most unlikeliest of places, and that foraging for your own food provides endless fun.
Sushi bar counter at Izakaya Fujiyama
I'm dining with thefoodpornographer and Juji Chews tonight, both Perth food bloggers on a die hard eating tour of Sydney.
"Is there anything you've done in Sydney that hasn't involved food?" I ask.
There's a thoughtful silence before tpf pipes up "We went to the Opera House! And then we ate lunch."
Dining room and sake bottles
Izakaya Fujiyama sits alongside El Capo and Orto Trading Co, a trio of gastronomic big-hitters in an otherwise quiet street in Surry Hills.
In Japan, an izakaya is a tavern, a place people go after work to drink (usually sake) with snacks available on the side. Here at Izakaya Fujiyama, patrons can sit at the bar and enjoy appetisers with their drink, or sit down in the dining room and order a complete meal.
The sake menu can be a little intimidating but staff will happily offer suggestions that match your dishes. I ended up with the Kaishun Junmai Thoukarakuchi Hiyaoroshi ($10.50), pleasantly light and crisp with a clean finish on the palate (No. 43 on the sake menu).
Salt pickled mixed vegetables
We start with asazuke, a small dish of salt-pickled cabbage, carrot and cucumber that swings between salty, sweet, chilli and ginger, awakening our tastebuds and whetting our appetite.
Omakase sashimi plate $24.50
We leave the sashimi plate in the hands of the chef (omakase), a worthy investment of trust that rewards us with plump slices of fresh salmon, mackerel, kingfish and tuna curled against mounds of finely grated daikon and a paperthin shaving of radish.
Sushi chef at work in the kitchen
Kenji's Fried Chicken $13.50
Karaage chicken with house made Kewpie
Kenji's Fried Chicken is the house version of KFC. There is no comparison. We tear apart the piping hot chicken and risk burning ourselves on the thick plumes of steam. The batter is deliriously good - crispy and seasoned and fantastically gnarled and nubbly for extra crunch.
The house made Kewpie mayonnaise is the icing on the cake, not overly greasy but adding extra zing to the already succulent chicken.
Crispy pork belly with yuzu pepper $24.50
It's hard to resist any dish that says pork belly, especially ones that are preceded with the word "crispy". We fall upon the thick chunks of pork that are generously meaty - but really all we want is the tile of crackling on the top.
Teriyaki beef kalbi $28.50
Glazed grilled beef ribs with green chilli relish
The teriyaki beef kalbi is carnivore heaven, a celebration of pink and juicy beef rib cooked on the bone. The meat is fatty, sweet and juicy, served with a spicy green chilli sauce with plenty of kick. It's worth fighting over the rib itself, and gnawing away at the connective tissue.
Tuna jaw $38
The tuna jaw offers the biggest spectacle, stacked on a chopping board that will threaten to leak fish "juice" all over you if you're not careful. It's a dish that demands to be shared slowly, picking away with a fork to reveal clumps of dark and light flesh that moves from lean to fatty. The fins are cooked to a brittle stage so you can snap off the ends and eat them like a chip.
The bones can be stripped clean with some patience, and we marvel at the sheer size of the jaw bone, and how so much tastiness can be found in something that is often thrown away or consigned to the stock pot. Two bowls of soy dipping sauce provide all the seasoning you need.
Izakaya Fujiyama bar counter
Fujiyama Jaffa $13.50
Frozen chocolate cake with kumquat, yogo and popcorn
We struggle to finish everything between four people, but we manage to find room for dessert, opting to share the Fujiyama Jaffa. It's a prettily plated dessert that offers a playful mix of tastes, textures and temperatures.
The frozen chocolate cake is sweet against the tart candied cumquat and the tang of yoghurt ice cream. Popcorn kernels provide a crunchy component, contrasting against the smoothness of the yogo that is much like a silky chocolate mousse.
I'd go again for the tuna jaw. And Kenji's Fried Chicken.
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G09/52 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9698 2797
Monday to Saturday from 5.30pm til late
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
El Capo, Surry Hills
Japanese izakaya - Iiza, Newtown
Japanese izakaya - Kasumi Izakaya, Haymarket
Japanese izakaya - Izakaya Den, Melbourne
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11/21/2011 01:05:00 a.m.