“What makes you think I want a good piece of steak for dinner?”, I say to Mysaucepan about where she wanted to go for my birthday.
“Well, that’s what you mostly choose whenever we go out to eat”, she says.
“Not really!”, I replied.
“I actually feel like a nice bowl of ramen noodles since it’s been pretty cold lately”, I added.
We finally decided to go to a popular neighbourhood ramen noodle bar at Crows Nest in Sydney’s lower north shore on this Saturday night, hoping to get a table as there is a no booking policy at this tiny restaurant.
We arrive at the restaurant at 8.15pm and to our disappointment, the waitress stops us at the door to inform that they are closing for the evening.
“What, at 8.15 pm on a Saturday night?” I asked her.
“I’m so sorry sir”, she apologises.
“We very very busy tonight, so no more ramen soup, all sold out, we need to close”, she further explains.
So that’s Sydney for you, dear readers.
From my previous blogpost about a food safari in Sydney, I mentioned there are so many good restaurants around town these days.
Many of these are local or neighbourhood restaurants that serve good honest food and they appear to be thriving in the midst of the current lean retail and hospitality times.
“What do we do now?” I asks Mysaucepan.
“I know”, she says with a glee of excitement on her face.
“Why don’t we try that new Japanese yakiniku joint nearby? That way we can still have Japanese and you can also have some steak.” she reasons.
“Oh well, it’s 8.30pm now, we might as well”, I said, resigned to the fact many restaurants may be fully booked at this time on a Saturday night.
We finally arrive at Nishiki Wagyu Yakiniku restaurant located along Pacific Highway in Crows Nest.
This restaurant now occupies the same site of the previous renown local Chinese, Ying’s Seafood restaurant. It is newish and the dining room has received a complete make-over.
The decor is minimal, the lighting subdued and the ambience is dark and modestly classy.
Service is courteous and immediately upon our orders, condiments and sauces arrive like clock-work efficiency.
Already we can smell the aromas of meat sizzling away on the tables around us.
The menu is nicely presented with colourful pictures of sashimi, sushi rolls, oysters, yakiniku BBQ, salads and side dishes.
The restaurant has a fresh sushi counter although there don’t appear to be bar stools to sit and munch on fresh sushi and sashimi. Nevertheless, looking at the meats sizzling around us, we unanimously decide to order a few yakiniku dishes to sample.
A small platter of the classic yakiniku sauce combination arrives after we order a serve of the premium wagyu scotch fillet. I love the sweet savoury soy combination as it truly brings out the flavour of grilled meat or seafood.
The sesame oil and pepper is one of my favourite combinations as well because the nutty flavour is so aromatic.
Our deep fried oysters arrive on a heavy platter filled with rock salt.
I am an avid fan of fresh oysters but I also love a good oysters mornay, kilpatrick and last but not least, deep fried oysters in a crisp and crunchy breadcrumb crust.
I have tasted a few good interpretations of deep fried oysters in some of Sydney’s good Japanese restaurant.
On my first bite onto these deep golden brown nuggets, I have no doubt Nishiki’s interpretation is by far the best I have tasted in a very long time. The crust is hot and crispy from the fryer. Dipped into a thick Japanese mayonnaise, each bite is a taste and textural sensation.
Our order of premium wagyu scotch fillet comes with seven slices of the wonderfully marbled meat drizzled with a sweet soy with some roasted sesame seeds.
We can see quality on a plate because each slice shows an intricate weave of red meat dotted around a layer of fat. These slices of meat are definitely not for the faint heart-attack worriers.
Nishiki claims to be Australia’s only yakiniku restaurant specialising in full blood wagyu beef. Approximately ninety percent of wagyu beef sold within Australia is cross-bred wagyu infused with Australian cows such as Angus.
A full blood wagyu is a pure and direct descendant of the Japanese bloodlines where the meat has more intense marbling and flavour. Since wagyu cows arrived in Australia via America in the early 1990s, Australian breeders have learnt to perfect the art of raising wagyu with as little stress as possible to the animals.
I place a few pieces of the wagyu onto the red hot grill and it immediately starts to sizzle.
The aromas of this meat grilling are truly a meat lover’s dream – smoky and charred as the fat begins to melt and caramelise as it cooks.
I cook the meat to a gently well done state to maximise the flavour and put a piece into my mouth. This meat is definitely one of the very rare and special eye-closing moments because it is juicy, full of beefy flavour and so tender, it literally melts like butter in your mouth.
The menu also explains the owner of Nishiki runs a wholesale business that supplies Australia’s most premium wagyu beef to fine dining restaurants and clients overseas.
He handpicks full blood wagyu with a marble score of 7+ that is traceble to their supplier, Cabassi & Rea.
In contrast, a beef tripe is rubbery and we savour this dish for its slightly chewy and gamey flavour.
If I had to come back again to Nishiki, I am happy to just have the deep fried oysters and wagyu beef. But come back I shall, very soon, with a whole group of hungry meat lovers too.
So dear readers, do you like wagyu beef and which is your favourite Japanese yakiniku restaurant?
Nishiki Wagyu Yakiniku
270 Pacific Highway
Crows Nest 2065
New South Wales
Tel: + 61 2 8021 6688
Trading hours: Dinner Mondays to Saturdays 6pm – 10pm (Last order)