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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

All you can eat sushi at Kansai, Sydney

Four words that will make anyone smile: All. You. Can. Eat.

Every year I say that I have outgrown the ignominious lust for outright gluttony. And yet still, there's a delicious little thrill at the prospect of a limitless buffet, as though a personal best is beckoning to be broken.

Kansai all you can eat menu

There are only three of us this evening, although we plan to attack with the cumulative appetite of many more. Kansai, tucked away in the corner of the Hunter Connection basement, does a roaring trade in sushi for the lunchtime crowds. By night, it's a scene of unrepentant consumption, although perhaps, in hindsight, this may have been just our table.

Pouring soy sauce

We squeeze ourselves into the tightly packed dining room, harried staff thrusting laminated but worn menus in our direction. We already know what we're having, of course, discarding the a la carte menu along with our self-respect and any semblance of a waistline.

Nigiri sushi

We rattle off an insane number of dishes to our waiter, pointing at each picture to make sure there is no confusion. Three each of everything, we may as well have instructed. Perhaps a double chin too.

The food arrives thick and fast and in no particular order. Let's make no mistake - this is not about quality. It is a mandated calorific free-for-all dipped in wasabi and soy.


We plot our way through the usual suspects, starting with a platter of nigiri sushi and adjourning to pan-fried gyoza (a little heavy) and skewers of yakitori that err on the cloying side of sweet.


Karaage chicken

Karaage chicken is probably the most disappointing, more greasy batter than chicken, and whilst the pork tonkatsu is tender, its panko crumb coating is a little leathery.

Pork tonkatsu

Dragon roll

Redemption is found in the sushi rolls, wheels of nori-wrapped rice that arrive draped with extra seafood and shards of crisp seaweed. The dragon roll holds a tempura prawn in its middle, succulent slices of sweet and fatty eel reclining elegantly on top.

Rainbow rolls

We find a core of salmon and avocado inside the rainbow rolls, the rainbow itself coming from the alternate arrangement of prawn, tuna and salmon on top, each daubed with mayonnaise.

Spider roll

Spider rolls offer potential, with their tangled deep-fried mass of soft shell crab in the middle, but a heavy hand of Thai chilli sauce and mayonnaise leaves any delicacy by the wayside.

Kansai sushi bar

Sashimi salad order #1

I do like my salad, convinced that its consumption will somehow counteract every fatty mouthful before it. Sashimi salad is a hastily cobbled combination of raw fish served on a bed of raw cabbage, carrot, avocado and cucumber doused with dressing and sprinkled with sesame seeds and seaweed.

Sashimi salad order #2

Our second order is a different take, with uneven cubes of tuna served with tobiko flying fish roe.

Soft shell crab handroll

The entire handroll menu is available too and Billy and I both choose the soft shell crab handroll which is all kinds of satisfying salty crunch. John's scampi is less of a winner, a little lost in the thick wad of batter. The sushi rice is reassuringly sticky - not too wet or dry.

Prawn tempura

Prawn tempura are surprisingly good, the batter light and airy, and the tails so crisp you can eat them whole.

Dragon roll order #2

A second order of dragon rolls seems to omit the prawn from our initial offering.

Pork kimchi

We plough on through a serving of pork kimchi that has more of that odd Thai sweet chilli sauce flavour, before finishing with a final order of baby octopus that is more of an overgrown teenager, and disappointingly chewy.

Baby octopus

For $28 however, this is still dinner for a steal.

Can an evening end without dessert? Of course not.

Like the non-stop jaw of competitive eater, Takeru Kobayashi, we continue our Pac Mac eating quest with a short walk to House.


Bread and ice cream $5

House, the latest eatery opened by Sujet Saenkhan of Spice I Am, specialises in the street food of the Isaan region, in north east Thailand.

There's not much on the dessert menu here but we find bread and ice cream, a soft sweet bun wrapped around a scoop of pandan ice cream that perches precariously on a square sauce bowl.

Kati num kang dai $5

Kati num kang dai is a like a Thai version of ice kacang, a jumble of cooked taro, ruby chestnut and pandan noodles hidden beneath a mountain of shaved ice drizzled with palm sugar syrup.

And yes we ordered two.

Better than sex $15

We finish with the BTS, short for Better Than Sex which is apparently an appropriate moniker for this House specialty dessert. It's a thick slice of fluffy eggy brioche that holds a scoop of pandan ice cream, toasted black and white sesame seeds and a river of palm sugar syrup. It's intriguing if pricey at $15 per serve.

All you can eat? We're lucky we didn't explode.

View Larger Map
House on Urbanspoon

202 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9280 0364
Open 7 days 12noon - 2am

View Larger Map
Kansai on Urbanspoon

Shop B1, Hunter Connection basement level
7-13 Hunter Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9231 5544

Opening hours:
Lunch Monday to Friday from 11am
Dinner Monday to Saturday 5pm-10pm

All-you-can-eat available at dinner only
$28 per person excluding sashimi and hotpot
$38 per person with sashimi and hotpot
[prices correct as at September 2010]


Congratulations to Sarah C - you have won two tickets to see Rene Redzepi at the Sydney Opera House this Friday, 1 October 2010.

Missed out this time? Don't forget to enter the Freebie Friday competitions still open:

(entries close Sunday 10 October 2010)
13 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/28/2010 02:55:00 am


  • At 9/28/2010 8:57 am, Anonymous Minh said…

    BTS looks amazing! I'm always stunned that you guys manage to fit in dessert after dinner, but house looks fun!

  • At 9/28/2010 9:48 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Hehe the asian side of me can never resist an all your can eat menu! The tempura prawn looks pretty good, all in all it looks like great value. And ooooh brioche and pandan ice cream...

  • At 9/28/2010 10:22 am, Blogger Jen said…

    I agree, this place is great value and very filling but not somewhere I'd go for quality sushi.

  • At 9/28/2010 10:31 am, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    Money shot of the soy sauce! Like a musical fountain of soy! HAHAHA.

    I particularly liked the tempura prawns and the yakitori. is cheap is goodddd...

  • At 9/28/2010 11:20 am, Anonymous mama bok said…

    Ahhh.. so envious lah!!

  • At 9/28/2010 11:49 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    So, so much respect for your dedication and abilities. Someone needs to create an all-you-can-eat-Asian-desserts deal though. I hate that I've gone 23 years without trying pandan ice creaM!

  • At 9/28/2010 7:43 pm, Anonymous mrs ed said…

    is it me but.. i think the quality of ur sushi is better than ours.. maybe they thought/knew u guys were some sort of food critics/bloggers... taking pics and all.. ours(sushi) were messy (we did go on a friday night).. still value for money though..

  • At 9/28/2010 7:46 pm, Anonymous Trissa said…

    You're right Helen - despite some low points, all you can eat at 28 bucks is a steal. I'm pretty sure if I got my brother to go here on an empty stomach they'd change their policy the next day!

  • At 9/28/2010 10:00 pm, Anonymous Mark @ Cafe Campana said…

    A+ for gluttony. I would love to stuff myself silly with those treats.

  • At 9/29/2010 3:12 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    pac man eating quest?! HAHAHAHAHA that's GOLD

  • At 9/29/2010 11:58 am, Blogger Brenda said…

    I guess you can't expect too much from all you can eat. Still looks decent enough, particularly the sushi rolls. Yum yum! Worth a trip!

  • At 9/30/2010 12:50 pm, Anonymous Chef Ally said…

    Hi Helen, thanks for your post on Japanese buffet. Coming from food crazy Singapore, where every other weekend is spent with girlfriends stuffing our faces at popular all-you-can-eat joints, it's comforting to know such feeding frenzies can be found here in Sydney too!

  • At 10/11/2010 1:19 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Hannah - All you can eat Asian desserts? Now we're talking! lol

    Hi Mrs Ed - lol. I doubt it. Maybe we just had a better chef that evening? I find Friday nights are chaotic in most places though.

    Hi Chef Ally - Ahh yes there are plenty of places to stuff yourself stupid in Sydney too :)


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