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Monday, September 21, 2009

Kasumi Izakaya, Sydney (closed)

EDIT: Kasumi Izakaya has closed

OMIGOD it's a water slide!

I am beside myself with excitement. A water slide! With noodles! It's like the kids' bathttime water slide I never had but always coveted.

It's not the only surprise dish we find at Kasumi Izakaya, the Japanese tavern on the northern offshootof Dixon Street mall, not far from the new Mandarin Club. Whilst we wait for the rest of our group to arrive, I'm easily entertained by the collection of laminated menus on our table (four different menus in total).

Roll your own own handrolll sushi $18.20 and
takoyaki Russian roulette $7.80

The roll-your-own handroll sushi sounds like a good game for the kids or the particularly energetic. Takoyaki Russian roulette is an interesting variation on Wagaya's sushi roulette except instead of salmon nigiri and wasabi, it's takoyaki and chilli. The revolving tako platter is a nice touch.

Hot pot varieties including Collagen Beauty and Spicy Tripe & Hormone

On the hot pot menu, spicy tripe and hormone sounds the most intriguing. Collagen beauty is just one dish that is deliberately marketed at women.

Ladies course party plan

The Ladies course party plan must be applauded for its entrepreneurial approach. Collagen beauty soup sits alongside princess petit sushi and sauteed pork with gorgonzola sauce. This menu does 48 hours notice - perhaps one for the next hens' night?

Group banquet options

Desserts for the laaay-dies

The health benefits of CoQ10 are spruiked throughout the menu. The dessert menu presumably aimed at calorie-conscious women has a few interesting options, most notably the tomato compote with yoghurt ice.

Mimigar $5.90
Pork skin with spicy shallot sauce

Fat free? It's the last thing on our minds as the G-man and I create our order from the menu. I'm automatically drawn to the mimigar pork skin with spicy shallot sauce. The G-man's eyes light up at the thought. It's not the crispy crackling I'd imagined but actually the gelatinous crunch of compressed layers of pigs ears. Chilli, shallots and a sprinkle of sesame seeds add heat and liveliness.

Salmon skin chips $3.80

"Should we order salmon skin?" G-man grabs my arm in response. I take that as a yes.

The salmon skin chips fulfil all our deep-fried cravings, although these are surprisingly delicate, the curls of salmon skin super thin and super crunchy. Seasoned with flakes of seaweed, they're incredibly more-ish.

Sushi sashimi combo $32.80

A platter of sushi and sashimi restores our sense of dietary virtue. Chunks of fresh salmon, tuna and kingfish cosy up to a whole raw scampi.

Nagashi soumen $16.80
Flowing angel hair flour noodle

Our table is already overflowing when the nagashi soumen arrives. We immediately note the absence of the slide. "The water slide?" we ask. "Is it coming?"

"Oh that one is not as good as this one. Once the noodles slide from the top, then it's finished. This one is much more interesting," he reassures us.

We activate the spa bath by pressing the black button on top. We add the noodles which start to float along with the whirlpool. It's not until later that a waitress tells us we've added too many noodles. Once we remove about half, the noodles swirl around much more freely.

Dipping the noodles in dressing

Oh such fun! Not only do we get food on the move, but we then have to try to catch the noodles with our chopsticks. It's best to work against the current, using the chopsticks as a dam to create a backlog of noodles. Your victorious clump of noodles are then dipped briefly into a dressing of sweetened soy dressing that tastes much like the sauce that accompanies the cold noodle dish zarusoba.

The bath effect is not just for show. Swirling the fresh noodles in the running water rinses them of their light flour dusting creating noodles which are super smooth and slippery.

Wagyu tataki $9.80

Wagyu tataki is one of the few disappointments of the evening, a touch overcooked and a little dry and chewy.

Teriyaki chicken ball with egg yolk $9.80

The teriyaki chicken ball is a generous patty of pan-fried chicken mince patty topped with a raw egg yolk.

The buttery egg yolk adds a rich and sticky sweetness to the cooked teriyaki flavoured chicken.

Steamed eggplant with sweet miso $7.50

Steamed eggplant with sweet miso is simple but tasty. It's helpfully pre-carved so you can lift chunks of the flesh straight out, coated with a generous drizzle of sticky sweet miso. The eggplant is so tender and sweet, I end up eating the skin anyway.

Potato cheese, sticky rice style $6.80

Potato cheese, sticky rice style was another dish that had the hearts of the G-man and I all in a flutter. They take some time to arrive, but when they do, we are swooning over the golden orbs with little hats of butter that are already melting seductively.

Helloooooo happiness! The balls are amazingly chewy, like the lovechild of a potato gnocchi and a mochi cake. The crispy skin on the outside gives way to the joy of starch and a gooey middle of molten cheese. It's the ultimate comfort food that you want to hug because it hugs you right back.

Cook your own bean curd with CoQ10 $16.80

Our feast for our group of six continues with the cook-your-own bean curd, lauded in the menu for its presence of CoQ10:
CoQ10 which is necessary for beauty and health maintaining fomr skin, hair and internal organs to be healthy. It is also becomes a most excellent effect if eating with soy's isoflavone included in the bean curd. Soybean's isoflavone does the same function as the female hormone that makes up the body to be feminine, the beautification and skin whitening, improves the moisture retentions, and the breast augmentation is more effective.

Bringing the soy bean milk to boil

A pot filled with soy milk is placed on a portable gas on your table. We're instructed to allow it to boil for five minute before adding the cup of nigari provided. The nigari, or magnesium chloride, helps to coagulate the soy bean into tofu solids.

Soy bean curds after adding the nigari

We're not provided with a lot of instructions, and end up with tofu that is a little bubbly and probably overcooked. Internet searches since show we should've allowed the soy milk to cool slightly (about 70C-80C), then turned the heat off before adding the nigari with a gentle stir. It should then be left still for 5 minutes or so.

Nevertheless the concept of making your own tofu at the table has plenty of novelty factor. We're provided with saucers of soy dressing to accompany the mild-flavoured tofu. We're also provided with a plate of raw fish and vegetables to cook in the remaining stock.

Salmon, tuna, kingfish, cabbage and bean sprouts

Cooking the salmon, tuna, kingfish, cabbage and bean sprouts

Monjayaki $14.80

The last dish that arrives is the one we'd be waiting all night for. It's the dish that had brought us to Kasumi in the first place: monjayaki.

Monjayaki is similar to okonomiyaki but is made with a batter that is runnier in consistency. It's a specialty of Tokyo and one that has the G-man particularly excited, as it's the first time he's seen it in Sydney.

Monjayaki ingredients

The batter for monjayaki is a simple mix of water and flour (at a ratio of about 17 to 1) with a small amount of Worcestershire sauce.

Pouring the monjayaki batter onto the grill

The batter is mixed through with cabbage, shallots, squid and flying fish roe, then poured onto a heated grill plate on a portable gas cooker.

Monjayaki slowly cooking

It takes some time for the batter to cook, but when it finally does, we're rewarded with a sticky stretchy glutinous goo that is a little crisp on the bottom. We eat it straight off the pan with the mini silver spatulas provided.

Digging into the monjayaki

Red eye $7.50, grape chu-hi $6.50 and calpis chu-hi $6.50

There's a reasonably good selection of beers, sake and spirits. Chu-hi is a mixer made with shochu, the Japanese spirit made from rice, barley or sweet potato. The G-man goes for the Red eye cocktail which we find out is tomato juice mixed with beer. The tomato juice takes the edge off the beer, adding a slight salty sweetness. He loves it.

Our table of six eats and drinks its fill for just under $35 a head. Great value and lots of fun - but next time I'm insisting on the water slide.

PS. Don't forget you only have two days left to enter the O-mochi mooncake giveaway. Hurry, entries close at 5pm AEST this Wednesday 23 Sep 2009. Enter now!

View Larger Map
Kasumi Japanese Dining Bar on Urbanspoon

Kasumi Izakaya Dining Bar
EDIT: Kasumi Izakaya has closed

Shop 2, 8-12 Harbour Street, Sydney
(corner of Liverpool St and Dixon St)
Tel: +61 (02) 9283 6678

Opening hours:
Lunch Monday to Sunday 12pm-3pm
Dinner Monday to Sunday 6pm-2am

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Japanese Izakaya - Wagaya, Haymarket (Jun09) and (Mar09)
31 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/21/2009 12:34:00 am


  • At 9/21/2009 8:03 am, Blogger Y said…

    What a funny place. Looks like they save a lot on labour by letting you do all the cooking yourself ;) Love the concept of potato cheese and noodle slides.

  • At 9/21/2009 8:14 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Ahhh this menu looks like so much fun! I was obsessed with water slides when I was younger, so I would have wayyyy too much fun with that! And the potato cheese things are making me drool...

  • At 9/21/2009 8:30 am, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    I can see Yas gonna hit this spot some time soon! I am like you, where's my water slide! Also, I would have thought you will order the takoyaki routlette :)

  • At 9/21/2009 8:57 am, Anonymous Minh said…

    I love how you find these random places Helen! Seeing the disarray of the tofu made me laugh

  • At 9/21/2009 9:43 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Helen, i think we have a psychic connection!!

    I was scouting a place for my friends birthday when i looked on Harbour street and thought i'll investigate.

    With japanese /chinese/Uighur/indonesian food, i had a look at each's menu and i decided THIS was the place to go!! The menu seemed different and i like to try different things!!

    What got me was the teriyaki chicken ball with yolk and potato cheese,and its great you reviewed it!!

    The ladies course sounds a little discriminating,are they saying men eat more than woman? haha


  • At 9/21/2009 9:50 am, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    Oh wow, what a find! It's so colourful and fun - just right for an awkward first date, hehe!

  • At 9/21/2009 10:47 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Helloooooo happiness! The balls are amazingly chewy, like the lovechild of a potato gnocchi and a mochi cake. The crispy skin on the outside gives way to the joy of starch and a gooey middle of molten cheese. It's the ultimate comfort food that you want to hug because it hugs you right back."

    One of your best descriptions this month.

  • At 9/21/2009 12:14 pm, Anonymous Chris said…

    Teee I think I like this place already! I must visit sometime soon...

  • At 9/21/2009 2:33 pm, Blogger Maria@TheGourmetChallenge said…

    The noodle spa looks awesome, but I think I would still want to try out the noodle slide. Why couldnt they incorporate the two? Noodles go down the slide and then land in a nice relaxing spa. everyone wins, even the noodles!

  • At 9/21/2009 2:33 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh you are so quick for this one. :)
    I'm sooo going back for the "Potato cheese" and the Latenight Menu.

    Will report back.


  • At 9/21/2009 8:52 pm, Anonymous Katherine said…

    Water Slides. How cool. The food looks good. I will definately order the salmon skin chips and the eggplant when I go there.

  • At 9/21/2009 9:02 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    oh lol i love maria's idea of the noodles on the slide and landing in the spa! haha i actually saw the slide for sale ages ago in a random shop and im totally regretting not buying it -_-'

  • At 9/21/2009 11:43 pm, Anonymous Howard said…

    This is first time I have seen chicken meatball with raw egg in Sydney! I had it in an Izakaya in Osaka and loved it to bits.

    I've walked past this place en route to Mamak a few times, nice find!

  • At 9/22/2009 11:48 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    great post. looks like a fun place.
    I didn't know that Soybean's isoflavone improves "beast augmentation".
    sounds like Howling IV.
    "johnny forks"

  • At 9/22/2009 7:26 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh how I love food that is interactive. thanks for bringing this little gem to light, helen. I will be sure to try it out soon!!


  • At 9/22/2009 11:32 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Heeyyyyy I must pay this place a visit! salmon skin... potato cheese... and the other dishes yummm XD XD!!

    Also why did they call the mimigar, pork skin :S that's deceiving!

    and tomato juice + beer.... I must say I disagree 0_o poor beer...

  • At 9/23/2009 12:11 pm, Blogger Implosion said…

    Thanks for another great review...
    now we've got a place to go that's entertaining for kiddies of all ages. :)
    I just have to have that waterslide!!!! XD

  • At 9/23/2009 10:55 pm, Blogger Yas @ hungry.digital.elf. said…

    Ohhh I meant to go for Monjya the other day!! Damn work keeps destroying my plans :(

  • At 9/24/2009 1:13 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Y - I'm not sure whether the saving on cooking is countered by the increase in washing up but it was lots of fun nevertheless! The potato cheese was divine!

    Hi Stephcookie - Next time I will have to insist on the water slide. The spa was lots of fun though!

    Hi Billy - Knowing my luck, I'd get the chilli bullet but to be honest, I'm much rather have another order of that potato cheese!

    Hi Minh - Ah I have to give the G-man credit for dragging us here, although I had stopped and looked at the menu here a couple of times (they didn't mention the noodle slide outside!). And yes, our tofu was fail!

    Hi sydneyguyrojoe - Haha, happy to be of assistance. And there's no mention of the ladies menu being smaller than the men's, it just has a different focus. lol

    Hi Belle - That's a great idea! Maybe I need to compile a Top 10 List for 1st Night Dates. lol

    Hi Anon - Oh it was easy to wax lyrical. Glad you appreciated the description!

    Hi Chris - Enjoy your meal, and yes, make sure you get the noodle slide!

    Hi Maria - I love that idea! Someone needs to create one immediately!

    Hi G-Man - Ahh yes, the noodle slide was too exciting not to share immediately. Thanks for dragging us here!

    Hi Katherine - The water slide was too much fun and yes the salmon skin chips and eggplant were both very tasty.

    Hi Chocolatesuze - Oh you saw the noodle slide for sale?! Think of the amazing dinner parties you could have with that!

    Hi Howard - Didn't realise you had been so enamoured by the chicken meatball. They're open late with a special yakitori supper menu so it might be an ideal pre- or post- Mamak venue depending on the queues :)

    Hi Johnny Forks - lol. There were a lot of typos in the menu but oops, that one was mine. Correcting it now. lol!

    Hi Noodlehead - Interactive food is always good value. Let us know how you find the food!

    Hi FFichiban - Yes the mimigar translation was a bit misleading. I was surprised by the tomato beer - not really as bad as it sounded!

    Hi Implosion - Oh we're all kiddies deep down aren't we? The waterslide is so much fun.

    Hi Yas - The monja was delicious - more places should have it. Hope you get your monjya fix!

  • At 9/24/2009 7:24 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, the food look amazing. I think i'll make a booking when i come up to sydney for the weekend!

  • At 9/26/2009 6:10 pm, Anonymous Simon said…

    I so have to go to this place! Between the tofu and the monjayaki, it reminds me so much of my trip to Japan. Monjayaki here of all places!

    So excited!

  • At 9/27/2009 2:20 am, Anonymous Simon said…

    Went there tonight with Yas. Missed out on the monjayaki though (much sadness!). Monjayaki service finishes at 10:30pm, if you've ever wanted to know.

  • At 9/28/2009 12:44 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi cruxiefaye - It's good fun. Definitely recommend the waterslide/spa noodles and the potato cheese!

    Hi Simon - Ha, I love that within 36hrs of your comment, you've already been and gone. A shame you missed out on the monjayaki. I think the trick is to go at 9pm so you make both the dinner *and* the late-night yakitori menu!

  • At 10/17/2009 9:11 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    went there yesterday for a friend's party. the eggplant and the cheesy mochi were indeed delicious.

    unfortunately for some reason they decided to hire a caucasian maitred and a really pretty caucasian waitress who had no idea what they're doing. all our orders were mixed up, some didn't arrive, we had weird dishes we didn't order come in, and all our food was late despite having been told that they're booked out and we'd be kicked out at 8pm.

    the food was great but the service was such a disappointment...


  • At 10/17/2009 9:27 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Wendy - Sorry to hear about your disappointint experience. It's always a shame when the service leaves your dining experience a little wanting. Glad the eggplant and cheesy mochi lived up to your expectations though! Thanks for letting me know about your experience.

  • At 2/19/2010 7:12 pm, Anonymous Yen said…

    Love the place and the food. It's a good place to eat and chat as well. The staff are friendly :)

    One disappointment is the shaved ice (kaki tori) menu is gone! They took it off the menu :(. My friend and I usually go there at least once a week for the shaved ice.

    Overall, it is a nice place (^^,)b

  • At 3/04/2010 1:33 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Yen - Thanks for letting us know about your dining experience. A shame there's no more kaki tori. I certainly can empathise with a shaved ice obsession!

  • At 12/03/2010 3:31 pm, Anonymous Kym said…

    I ordered the takoyaki Russian roulette and I found it so fun! It made me feel like a little school girl all over again.

    The potato cheese balls reminded me of hash browns from Maccas. :)

  • At 1/21/2011 1:47 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    I know this is a pretty old post but I thought I'd leave a comment in hope for a response anyway.

    I was wondering if you could tell me exactly where abouts this restaurant is.

    My boyfriend and I went looking for this restaurant on the weekend and we couldn't find it!! We walked up and down the street a few times and couldn't see it, unless we are blind as bats =S

    We even rang up about 5 times to find out where abouts they were but no one answered the phone so this was very fustrating. I know they still exist because I just read a review someone posted from the 16th of Jan.

    If you could let me know the exact location and what it's near would be awesome and greatly appreciated. We really want to try out this place!!


    Nat =)

  • At 1/24/2011 1:12 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Nat - It's on Dixon Street North, ie north of Goulburn Street. The address they use is a little misleading, but if you walk up the main mall of Dixon Street (where the Chinatown gates are) walk past Meet Fresh and the pagoda at the top, cross the lights at Goulburn Street, and keep walking along what I call Dixon Street north. Kasumi Izakaya is about 3/4 of the way up, on your right. Hope you find it!

  • At 10/05/2012 5:16 pm, Anonymous Desiree said…

    SOOOO sad... it closed down. Anyone knows where it moved to? or is my favorite place gone forever?


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