It is one of those Saturday afternoons that Mysaucepan and I could not decide whether to cook at home or go out for a simple meal.
“Why don’t I ruffle up something simple at home since you’ve booked that hip yum cha lunch tomorrow?” I say.
“Why don’t we just go out since it’s Saturday night?” she counters, as though it is an obligatory mandate for all Sydneysiders to not be caught at home during weekends.
“Oh well, if we keep arguing it will be 9 pm by the time we decide” I say.
Half an hour later, we are driving along the cafe and restaurant strip on Military road in Neutral Bay where people scour for a meal at so many eateries here.
“It’s really quite vibrant tonight isn’t it?” I quip.
“It’s probably vibrant most nights” she quickly adds.
Restaurants along Military road in the suburbs of Neutral Bay and Cremorne range from Thai, Italian, Chinese, modern Australian, Japanese, bar and pub fare, Indian and the list just goes on.
We have our favourites among so many restaurants. Tonight, we settle on Sushi Samurai, a tried and test favourite over the years.
It’s a Saturday night and the restaurant is packed and why should’t it be? The menu is quite extensive with the usual selection of sushi, sashimi, grilled items and hotpots and prices are very competitive.
I love miso eggplant and every time I have this dish at Japanese restaurants I remind myself that I should be preparing this simple dish at home more often.
Two large pieces of the round eggplant are grilled with sweet miso paste and sprinkled with sesame seed. It is delicious but eggplant is like a sponge and this dish was a little on the oily side after a few bites.
The special salmon sushi set comes with eight pieces of salmon prepared fresh, grilled and combined with fennel and avocado.
There are so many Japanese restaurants in Sydney today that I find sushi has become almost like comfort food to Sydney diners.
Freshness is obviously paramount and most Japanese restaurants dish out some delicious combinations of sushi and sashimi. Sushi Samurai is no exception.
But what I am really looking forward to eat tonight is a very simple and traditional Japanese dish.
Sanma shioyaki is a Japanese grilled fish that I have loved for so many years. I’ve learnt that in Japanese, shio and yaki mean salt and grilled respectively. Sanma is the name given to a fish which is also know as the Pacific saury.
What really caught my eye is her beautiful presentation which ignited my craving for this fish again. Short of grilling it on my own at home, I am going to order it at the next Japanese restaurant and I get my chance tonight!
I would have preferred this fish to be presented whole rather than sliced into two pieces though I guess the logistic of a long ceramic platter in a busy restaurant is less friendly for the wait staff.
L: Sanma shioyaki with the guts R: Sanma shioyaki devoured
Traditionally, this fish is grilled with the head and guts all intact. The flesh is gently salty with and a crisp skin from the grill.
But the question is, would you consider eating the guts as well? The guts look a bit like those of canned sardines in tomato sauce which sometimes do come with the guts as well.
The guts is supposed to be highly nutritious and bitter but it turns out to be just slightly bitter sweet and I quite like the gritty, irony taste.
Some of the finer small bones are edible and I was contemplating on eating the crusty head. Looking the image above, I am somewhat regretting that I didn’t.
I like this restaurant because it has a casual setting, the menu fairly extensive and features many Japanese favourites whilst the service and prices are very friendly too!
So dear readers, do you sometimes have the dilemma of deciding whether to cook at home or go out to a restaurant and would you eat the guts of the sanma shioyaki dish?
Shop 3 197 Military road
Neutral Bay, New South Wales 2089
Tel: +61 2 9953 4059
Business hours: Open 7 days for lunch and dinner
Licensed and BYO wine only (Corkage $2.50 per person)