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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sushi Tengoku, Kensington

Sashimi moriawase $26
Mixed raw fillets of seafood (18 pieces)

Read any online review of Sushi Tengoku and the words GIANT SUSHI are sure to feature.

With a reputation for being incredibly popular with locals, especially nearby uni students, we're glad we've made a booking, although it's not too busy on a Wednesday night. The restaurant is small and unassuming, nestled between a dry cleaners and a gym on the quieter side of Anzac Parade in Kensington. Inside we find laminex tables, a help-yourself urn of hot water to top up your pot of green tea, and two sushi chefs working steadily in the kitchen.

Sushi moriawase $28
Selection of sushi (12 pieces)

The sushi? It is GIANT indeed. And yet, as wildest dreams become reality there's a strange sense of disappointment. Whilst the sushi is indeed headily substantial, the thick mattresses of fish seem flabby and hulking, bereft of the grace and careful precision one usually appreciates when enjoying sushi and sashimi.

It's hard to appreciate the size of the fish in the photo, but I recall the fish on top of the nigiri to be about 9cm long and 5cm. It's huge. The fish is firm and fresh though, the kaibashira (raw scallops) are the highlight with their softness and incredible sweetness. Ika (raw squid) is also a favourite, scored with multiple incisions so they fall apart like satin ribbons in the mouth.

Agenasu misokake $8.00
Deep-fried eggplant with bean paste sauce

Agenasu misokake is half an eggplant deep-fried until golden, its insides a gentle mush of sweet flesh. It's a simple dish but oh so delicious, garnished with a dab of salty miso paste and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Ebi prawn tempura (5 pieces) $14

We sample two fried dishes. The ebi prawn tempura is pale gold in colour but not as fluffy or light as I'd prefer. The chicken katsu is also fair, perhaps a little over-fried till the batter became a little too hard and crunchy.

Tori karaage $13
Deep-fried chicken

Baked scallops (large) $30

More popular is the baked scallops, a special dish not on the menu but known to us via G-man, whose friend had let us in on the locals' secret. This dish must be pre-ordered and it's worth being organised. We delve in with chopsticks to find it packed with sweet slices of scallop and a sea of cream and floating tobiko. Tiny bubbles of tobiko (flying fish roe) give a salty brine-bursting richness to the dish. It is so very good.

Soft shell crab futomaki thick roll $14
Deep fried soft shell crab with fish roe, vegetables and mayonnaise

We complete our meal with the soft shell crab roll. I find the sushi rice a tad on the soggy side, but the soft shell crab is crunchy and the avocado is nicely ripe.

Bill total: $137 for six people.

Craving giant sushi? You know where to go.

Sushi Tengoku
121 Anzac Parade, Kensington, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9663 3388
Open Tuesday to Sunday 5pm - 10pm
Closed on Mondays

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Japanese (sushi)--Musashi (Mar07) and (Oct05)
Japanese (sushi)--Rise (May 05), (Feb 05) and (Aug 04)
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12 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/25/2008 10:43:00 pm


  • At 11/26/2008 7:17 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, that is seriously big sushi. You should have done the coin test to fully illustrate it's hugeness.

    I am sad that fried chicken was not juicy.

    The baked scallops sound dreamy.

  • At 11/26/2008 8:11 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That place does serve (as I put it on eatability) sushi on steroids! Last time we went I remember the eggplant and the chawan mushi (steamed egg) were the standouts of the night. Thanks for letting us in to the secret of the the baked scallops, they look delish :)

  • At 11/26/2008 11:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm pretty sure I heard the custom in Japan is not to take bites off sushi but to eat each piece in one mouthful -- quite a challenge in this case!

  • At 11/26/2008 2:06 pm, Blogger Miss Honey said…

    Thanks for the insider's tip - the scallops looked fantastic to me:)

  • At 11/26/2008 4:03 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ahhh I still have yet to tryyy but I really would prefer to try the awesome huge sushis in Japan cos much better quality?

    The baked scallop does look and sound trip-worthy though mmmmmmm

  • At 11/26/2008 5:36 pm, Blogger Annie said…

    The baked scallops look awesome! And I will have to try eggplant done like that too.

  • At 11/27/2008 12:02 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Veruca Salt - I actually tried to use the sancho chilli pepper jar as a comparison but the photo was oh so blurry!

    The fried chicken was helped with a generous squeeze of lemon juice. And yes, the scallops were very dreamy indeed!

    Hi hunnyb - Ooh yes I did enjoy the eggplant. Hope you enjoy the scallops next time! Make sure you pre-order!

    Hi Michael - That's very true indeed, and something I usually adhere to myself. We committed ultimate sacrilege and actually carved up most of our sushi so at least two people could try each piece! Ai yah indeed!

    Hi Miss Honey - I'm wondering whether there's going to be a shortage of scallops soon!

    Hi FFichiban - I think the sushi in Japan is in a whole other statrosphere. However there's no danger of jetlag with a quick trip to Kensington. Hope you get to try the scallops soon!

    Hi Annie - I love how the Japanese cook their eggplant. It's always so tender and soft and tasty. Hope you get to try the scallops as well.

  • At 11/27/2008 10:09 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for the tip on the baked scallop ;)

    I've tried this place once and it was great. Going past on the bus everyday, there is no shortage of patrons as it's usually packed rain , hail or shine.

    I was a bit skeptical because the sushi was so big, perhaps they would skimp on quality ? But I must say, it's pretty damn good. I noticed that the the Son (assuming the head chef guy is the father ?) was always running back forth into the kitchen with freshly fried soft shell crab etc , awesome!

  • At 11/27/2008 2:24 pm, Blogger Implosion said…

    I've driven past this place many times but never actually thought of stopping along the huge moving(sometimes) carpark that is Anzac Parade. I must admit I've always thumbed my nose up at it simply because it's a Japanese restaurant in the Kensington/Randwick area and not Neutral Bay or Bondi.

    After reading your review, we will try it now!

  • At 11/29/2008 9:49 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Howard - The seafood is fresh. At one point I paused and sniffed the air because I could distinctly smell a freshly opened sea urchin. It was divine! And yes I've heard about the crazy queues.

    Hi Implosion - Ahhh you never know what you might find in any given suburb. Would be interested to hear what you think of the food if you do visit :)

  • At 8/31/2010 5:03 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Their Salmon aburi and Egg Tamagoyaki....is So GOod!!

  • At 9/12/2010 6:15 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Joe - And giant-sized too!


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