The Stanley Street precinct is one that I rarely get down to for no reason other than simply forgetting it’s there. Once labelled as being one of this towns “Little Italy’s” its two-block stretch of a handful of Italian restaurants seem to have diminished over the years while a few venues are still trading strong.
So what am I doing on Stanley Street eating at a Japanese restaurant? Well … it was a couple of days post Christmas and someone decides they want to go to Surry Hills for dinner somewhere. Catch the train into Central, walk up to Crown Street and find most places closed. Public holiday. Can’t find anything. End up at The Beresford, way too noisy. Walk down Oxford Street. Ho hum, not much open. Grill’d? Nah, someone doesn’t feel like burgers. Clove Indian? Nah, I don’t feel like Indian. Walk to Stanley Street, do a bit of pacing and end up at Sushi Arigato. Spontaneity has its moments and this one didn’t run so smoothly.
First impressions? Not bad. The walls are over-sized chalk boards, scribed over countless times in pastel shades by customers leaving their mark during a brief time of feasting on decent Japanese fare at very decent prices. You even get little dishes with a few butt-ends of your own chalk to make a mark of your own. Textured wooden tables, small basket pendant shades and service that is erratic at times.
Gyoza (7.5) is always a good place to start and is sadly one of the worst I’ve encountered. The filling is flavourless except for a hint of that freezer taste, something even a good dose of soy didn’t mend. The volcano roll (9.9) was a complete opposite in the flavour stakes. Nothing punchy, just soft, mellow creaminess with grilled scallop on rice topped with “special sauce”. Let’s say the special sauce was akin to hollandaise and mayo crossed. I enjoyed it so much I licked it off my arm when a drop of it went astray. Waste not, want not.
The seaweed salad (6) is just that, what more can I say except you get three mounds of it. Salty. Tasty. If you follow my tweets you may have already had a preview to the the next dish – takoyaki (9.9) – octopus balls smeared with mayo, tonkatsu sauce and a heap of dancing bonito shavings. It’s food poetry in motion and if the creamy innards of these little babies don’t get you going, nothing will.
The grilled salmon nigiri (9.9) was another winner with its lightly seared bits of fish draped over rice. Again, there’s a squirt of mayo, some red onion shavings and fish roe. Melts. In. Your. Mouth.
What’s Japanese without tempura? Actually it isn’t often that I have it so I took the plunge and got the assorted tempura (13.5). Three bits of prawn, a few bits of veg, deep-fried, crunchy. Not bad.
So what did I scribe with the chalk? None other than …