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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sushi Samurai, Pyrmont

Black vinegar and honey water $4.80
and mango soda $4.80

Black vinegar on the drinks menu? Even as I read it, I knew I'd be ordering the strangest thing on the menu.

Sushi Samurai is a small but cosy restaurant, timber tables and bench seating clustered in warm and earthy surrounds. It's reasonably busy at lunch and dinner, popular with local residents, nearby workers and Lyric Theatre patrons looking for a pre-show feed.

Table setting

Meanwhile, the black vinegar and honey drink tastes just as described, the acidic tang of a deep vinegar muted by the toffee sweetness of honey. It's surprisingly refreshing, and a little addictive. It certainly packs more punch than the mango soda which seems a little bland and watery by comparison.

Fried chicken soft bone $8.80

We start with fried chicken soft bones, the cartilage bits you find on the ends of your chicken drumstick battered and deep-fried until golden brown. I've always relished chicken cartilage, and crunching on both the batter and the soft bone is texturally satisfying.

Agedashi tofu $6.80

Agedashi tofu is a serving of three planks of silken tofu dredged with potato flour, deep-fried and served in a dashi stock.

The tofu is delicate and a sprinkle of green onions, grated daikon and sesame seeds add liveliness, but I'm disappointed the gelatinous skin that characterises this dish isn't as stretchy as I'd prefer.

Lotus root chips with chicken salt $8.80

I'd ordered these lotus root chips in the hope they'd be a replica of the crisp snacks I adore at Wagaya. Whilst they look impressive--wheels of lotus root that look like the rotary dial of an old-fashioned telephone--the slices are a little thick and chewy.

Samurai chirashi sushi $16.80

Redemption is found in the chirashi sushi. I thrived on chirashi sushi during uni student days, forgoing the fancy sushi rolls for a lunchbox of rice scattered with an assortment of toppings for the day.

Hunting through the forest of flavours is half the fun. Our chirashi sushi is served in a pretty laquer box, adorned with fresh chunks of tuna, kingfish, raw scallop and prawn.

A layer of microscopically fine omelette shreds adds elegance and a delicate richness. Fish roe--both tobiko flying fish roe and ikura salmon roe--squeak and pop between the teeth.

It's fresh and colourful, nourishing and sustaining. Even a samurai warrior couldn't find fault with that.

View Larger Map
Sushi Samurai on Urbanspoon

Sushi Samurai
Shop 1 / 16-30 Bunn Street, Pyrmont, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9518 8852

Opening hours:
Open 7 days
Lunch 12pm-3pm
Dinner from 5.30pm

Also open at Neutral Bay
Shop 5 /197 Military Road, Neutral Bay, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9953 4059

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Pyrmont - Doyles (Seafood)
Pyrmont - Oscars (Dec08), (Oct07) and (Oct06) (Bar Food)
Pyrmont - Little Snail (French)
Pyrmont - Ripples (French)
Pyrmont - Sean's Kitchen (European)
Pyrmont - Sydney Fish Markets (Seafood)
Pyrmont - Viva Goa (Goan)
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(Mod Aust)
16 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 1/14/2010 01:18:00 am


  • At 1/14/2010 3:45 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I used to pour little glasses of vinegar (the really basic, harsh, white vinegar that used to be ubiquitous) and sip on them when I was younger - I haven't done that in over a decade but I can definitely see the appeal of a black vinegar drink!

    I'm in super-rural Virginia right now where there's nothing at all like authentic Japanese to be found... reading this is slightly torturous :P

  • At 1/14/2010 11:33 am, Blogger jilliany said…

    I love asian food

    -- Jillian

  • At 1/14/2010 12:42 pm, Blogger Shanks said…

    Deep fried cartilage with kewpie mayo = pure bliss mmmmm!!

  • At 1/14/2010 1:36 pm, Blogger A cupcake or two said…

    The honey and vinegar drink has made me curious now. Hmm I really want to try it now. I like lotus root chips so delicious.

  • At 1/14/2010 3:34 pm, Blogger Kate said…

    Never tried chrashi sushi. Nearly did yesterday! Is the menu the same as the Neutral Bay Samurai? Any difference in quality?

  • At 1/14/2010 4:06 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hee hee just went to the NB one for lunch today ^^! but they didnt have any of the lotus root chips boooo!

  • At 1/14/2010 4:18 pm, Anonymous Jacq said…

    I love Sushi Samurai! I haven't tried the one in Pyrmont but the one in Neutral Bay is one of my go-to places for Japanese food around my area. I love the crunchyness of the deep fried chicken cartilage =D

  • At 1/14/2010 6:58 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    One of my husband's favourite lunch joints when he's working at out of the company's Pyrmont office.

  • At 1/14/2010 7:23 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Looks great - love the name as well - hilarious

  • At 1/14/2010 10:19 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Ooh I love a good chirashi sushi. :) The rice has to be perfectly cooked, just sticky enough to be held up with chopsticks without falling, and seasoned perfectly with the right amount of vinegar powder. and the fish has to be market-fresh, firm and buttery and delicious. Yours looks too gorgeous with those wee little omelette shreds and the little tobiko dots. Yum!

  • At 1/15/2010 12:48 am, Anonymous Simon said…

    Oh, I wonder how this compares to the branch in Neutral Bay. I've yet to go to the Pyrmont one.

    Love the chicken soft bones, served in that way. Chirashi sushi looks pretty nice as well.

  • At 1/15/2010 1:34 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Hannah - Wow, you really had a strong stomach from a strong age. It's a funny coincedence but a friend recently shared some Japanese apple vinegar said to make a great cordial - surprisingly it did. Very palatable with water but not sure about straight vinegar. You must love vinegar on chips, English-style!

    Oh commiserations to you in your sushi-denied environs. I feel your pain!

    Hi Jilliany - Me too :)

    Hi Shanks - I know - cartilage is such a wonderful thing. So too, is Kewie Mayo!

    Hi A Cupcake or Two - I think you could try it with any quality vinegar you have at home. Lotus root chips are a huge favourite of mine too.

    Hi Kate - I haven't been to the outlet in Neutral Bay so I can't comment. I recommend you try chirashi sushi though - it's great for when you're hungry or just want a surprise combo on your rice.

    Hi FFichiban - Nice coincedence :) And shame about the lack of lotus root chip action :(

    Hi Jacq - Oh looks like the Sushi Samurai in Neutral Bay is quite popular! The fried chicken cartilage is such a winner.

    Hi mademoiselle delicieuse - I can imagine it would be popular with many workers at lunchtime. Prices are very reasonable too.

    Hi Gourmet Chick - It is a catchy restaurant name. I can't stop envisioning a samurai facing an attack of flying sushi either. lol

    Hi Daena - Oh I agree, the art of sushi rice perfection is a tough one indeed. The chirashi sushi here was great, and I agree, it's all about quality in every component.

    Hi Simon - Seems like everyohe has been to the one in Neutral Bay! lol. The chicken cartilage is my kind of poporn chicken and chirashi sushi was fresh and satisfying. Smiles all 'round.

  • At 1/17/2010 6:07 pm, Blogger yan_ange said…

    One of my favourite Japanese joints in Sydney. Living in Sydney for the past 16 years, the Japanese food is great in Sydney and this is certainly one of the hidden gems, I used to work around the corner at a media agency and went there for lunch. I have the lunch set with the katsu don, it's MASSIVE!! For around $12 bucks, came with the pork katsu & rice, agedashi tofu, miso. It's great value. Also the sushi there is so fresh! The place became so busy that it opened up an adjacent little take away section! This place is a definite must!

  • At 1/18/2010 3:04 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi yas ange - The lunch set sounds great, thanks for the tip! You're lucky you worked so close to it - very handy :)

  • At 1/18/2010 5:45 am, Blogger yan_ange said…

    No problemos, grab your food. I am one avid foodie, though I don't venture much out of Sydney City, but gosh that new Chinese Eaton Restaurants looks interesting :)
    Btw, Hamachiya at Ultimo is good, give that one a go too :P

  • At 1/18/2010 7:27 pm, Blogger Yas @ hungry.digital.elf. said…

    Black Vinegar drink!! Kurozu drink have once been crazy popular for its dietary benefit and it was sold out for quite sometime.

    Too bad that the lotus root chips were chewy - they've got to be crunchy crisp hey?


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