If there is a suburb in Sydney that can pass as a haunt for good, honest Japanese food, then Artarmon in the lower north shore would be it.
The addition of Tatsuya, which already has an outlet in West Ryde, complements Wakana, the yakiniku restaurant next door.
Across Hampden road on the other side of Artarmon train station is Sushiya which has since taken on an additional shoplot next to its original joint. Two doors down is Rahmen Genki, famous for churning out bowl after bowl of piping hot ramen noodles to the locals.
The previous dimly-lit room that housed a Korean restaurant has been transformed into a bright and stylish place with a sushi counter to gaze at the deft skills of the sushi chef.
There is a variety of sake that are on display in the wall cabinet in the dining room.
A 2012 Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Grenache Rose is dry with subtle hints of raspberry and strawberry. It has a good, lingering finish and this kind of style is my personal favourite to go with Japanese sushi and sashimi.
Corkage here is $2.50 per person but the wine glasses are better than most neighbourhood restaurants.
A good touch by the restaurant on this cold evening is providing customers with a piping hot bowl of miso soup.
Simple gestures like this would go a long way in the competitive food scene in Sydney and earn brownie points in my books.
Our entree of salted deep fried whitebait is one of the best I’ve had in Sydney, whether it is done Western or Asian style.
The batter is light and crispy and there is hardly a hint of greasiness. A squeeze of lemon juice onto the whitebait and I’m continuously popping these little fish into my mouth. This dish is beer food made in heaven.
I don’t believe any Japanese restaurant can screw up a simple bowl of agedashi tofu and Tatsuya is no exception.
Crisp and light batter on the outside and silken soft inside, these golden tofu nuggets are topped with chopped shallots and bonito flakes. I doubt if I can ever get sick of this bowl of comfort food.
A grilled sushi set consists of kingfish, salmon and scallops sushi brushed with teriyaki sauce and lightly blowtorched for that unmistakable smoky flavour. Drizzled with Japanese mayonnaise, every piece is pure yumminess with a bit of light soy and wasabi.
Dragon roll is grilled eel sushi rolled up and sliced into bite-size pieces, topped with tobiko or flying fish roe and drizzled with teriyaki sauce and Japanese mayonnaise.
Avocado and seafood stick complete this delicious mouthful with a few slices of pink, pickled ginger.
I remember the California roll from our visit to Tatsuya’s West Ryde outlet.
Each piece of sushi is ladened with tobiko which is one of my favourite Japanese ingredients.
Each piece of sushi is rolled up with tuna, salmon and avocado. The sushi and sashimi are fresh and I would recommend all of the dishes we have ordered thus far.
The mixed tempura combination consists of slices of eggplant, sweet potato onion and prawns. Lightly deep-fried, the batter is crispy even in its dipping sauce.
The wafu steak is a piece of scotch fillet grilled on a cast iron plate sitting on thick slices of onions. This is a good way to prevent overcooking the meat which comes medium although I would have preferred it a little more rare.
I found the raw taste of sliced cabbage in the grilled fish salad to be a bit of a mismatch with the fish. And the crunchy texture of the cabbage is also not the best combination.
Grilled salmon roll is as tasty and pretty as it looks on the platter.
I highly recommend Tatsuya because the seafood is super fresh, simple, tasty and bloody good value for money.
Thumbs up to yet another good suburban Japanese restaurant in Sydney.
So dear readers, which is your favourite Japanese restaurant in Sydney?
92 – 94 Hampden road
Artarmon, New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 9419 4546
Business hours: Monday – Saturday 11.30am – 9.30pm. Closed on Sundays.