Izakaya Samurai on Military Road, Neutral Bay
We arrived at the restaurant around noon and were the first diners of the day. We were met by the lovely Yuri and warmly welcomed by Chef Shinya, the owner of Izakaya Samurai, who proceeded to show us around the restaurant. There was a choice of indoor or outdoor seating and given the lovely summer weather, we decided to go with al fresco dining for the fresh air and natural breeze (heaters available outdoors for the colder months). The indoor setting with its dimmed lights give the venue a more romantic and cosy ambience - you can even get a sneak peek of all the action behind the bar from between the row of sake bottles on display as well as watch the chef skilfully prepare the sashimi from the counter located next to the bar.
Indoor dining area
With a menu of over 200 food and drink items which you can select at a simple touch of the iPad located at each table, ordering is a breeze - you can take your time and order as you go, fully enjoying your izakaya experience. We went with Chef Shinya's recommendation and ordered their popular Sushi & Sashimi Lunch Set and Yebisu Lunch Box from the lunch menu (served between the hours of 12-2.30pm). The service here is speedy; it did not take long for our first meal to arrive at the table.
Order at ease from your table using the touch screen ordering system
The Sushi & Sashimi Lunch Set comes beautifully presented in a captivating ensemble of quality sashimi and assorted sushi, served with sides of miso soup, fresh salad dressed in a tangy sesame sauce, edamame and agedashi tofu. I LOVE the sashimi - thickly sliced fresh quality pieces of salmon, tuna and kingfish respectively, so good they were devoured almost immediately! The warm miso soup makes a great starter to get our bellies ready for the meal ahead and with the sides make this complete lunch set a very generous serving for one.
Sushi & Sashimi Lunch Set ($23.80)
Warm miso soup
Salad, edamame and agedashi tofu
Thickly sliced salmon sashimi
As a Washoku Lovers member, I had the additional benefit of ordering either the Suntory Malt’s Tap Beer or a small glass of Japanese Sake Ippin for $5 (normal price $8.80 and $9.50 respectively) or 1 free soft drink. We opted to go with the sake to share which worked out well for the warm weather. The Ippin Junmai sake was served in a chilled bottle accompanied with two small matching Ippin sake cups - clean and smooth to the taste, a great compliment to our raw seafood meal.
Ippin Junmai (small) ($9.50)
The Yebisu Lunch Box arrived in three parts - an entree of sashimi and salad, followed by a massive main and dessert of ice cream. The main dish was made up of a fantastic selection of Japanese dishes to tantalise your tastebuds: peppery beef seared medium rare served on a bed of cooked beansprouts, crunchy mixed tempura with dipping sauce, crispy teriyaki salmon, and a kaisendon - a bowl of diced sashimi, fish roe, thinly sliced tamago served on a bed of sushi rice with wasabi and ginger on the side. The Yebisu Lunch Box, much like the Sushi & Sashimi Lunch Set was very generous in serving size; there was no way we could finish this having already consumed the prior lunch set. Fortunately we were able to have the leftovers packed up to take home - the friendly staff were more than happy to assist. To finish, we had green tea ice cream (you get a choice of green tea or vanilla flavour) which was not overly sweet and wonderfully refreshing.
Entree of sashimi and salad
Main course of the Yebisu Lunch Box ($29.80)
Green tea ice cream
Since becoming a parent, I've found myself mentally taking note of restaurants and cafes that cater for children and I'm pleased to report that Izakaya Samurai fits the bill! Kids can choose from one of the four meal sets from the menu; there's also a secured kids' play area indoors with plenty of toys to keep the little ones entertained as well as a nappy change table in the ladies' washroom for your convenience. The restaurant is very family-friendly with many of the diners seen during the lunchtime service being families with young children. And though Xavier was too young to enjoy the food and play area this time, he had a ball on his first visit to the restaurant, squealing with delight as he joined us at the table whilst we enjoyed our meal :)
Secured kids' play area indoors
Xavier having a fun time on his first visit to Izakaya Samurai
With excellent, fresh quality food and great service, it is no surprise this neighbourhood gem is gaining much popularity since it reopen its doors post-refurbishment in late 2013. The generous serving size of meals makes it affordable and you are really spoilt for choice when it comes to their extensive selection of food and drinks on offer!
Jono and I dined as guests at Izakaya Samurai with thanks to Yuri from SD Marketing Global and Washoku Lovers.