Saturday, 6 February 2016

Izakaya Samurai, Neutral Bay

Back in December last year, Jono, Xavier and I had the pleasure of being invited by Yuri of SD Marketing Global to a tasting at Izakaya Samurai located on the main food and shopping strip Military Road in Neutral Bay. A sister shop to the popular Izakaya Yebisu in Regent Place on George Street in Sydney CBD, this Japanese tapas-style restaurant offers an authentic izakaya menu typically found in Japanese drinking establishments with a wide selection of beer, sake, wine and cocktails to choose from. Izakaya is a compound word made up of i (to stay) and sakaya (sake shop) traditionally meaning a place for customers to sit and drink on the premises; such establishments are marked by the akachochin (paper red lanterns) hanging at the entrance.

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.

Izakaya Samurai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 30 January 2016

New Year Blog Resolutions + Little Dance Giveaway!

Since having my little one Xavier, my blog has taken a major hiatus; being mummy is a 24/7 role and I would be lucky if I get more than 3 hours uninterrupted sleep a week! That said, I love being mummy (our little cherub brings my husband and I so much joy) and still want to do many of the things I loved doing pre-bub including more blogging. A new year brings upon time for reflection on the year that has passed and to re-evaluate ourselves, making improvements for the year ahead so what better way than to kick start my year with 3 simple blog resolutions:

#1: Revamp my blog
For 10 years, my blog was simply named 'Angelica's Blog' and frankly, I was getting bored with the rather uncreative name. After bouncing a few ideas for a new name with family and friends, I've now settled for 'The Moreish Life', a much better representation of what the blog is about i.e. doing MORE of the things I love. And it has its own domain name! Not to worry for those of you who are still accessing the old blog link - you will automatically be directed to The Moreish Life :)

Changing the blog design has always been in the back burner given my lack of web design skills but it is high time I do some cleaning up in order to develop a stronger brand for my blog this year. Watch this space.

#2: Weekly post
My posts have been pretty sporadic in the past year (yes, I know - time runs away from me!) so I'm setting the bare minimum bar for myself to publish one post per week. Now that I've said it out loud, I've definitely got to schedule in the time to write!

#3: Interact more with bloggers and blog readers
Instead of just writing a post and pushing the 'publish' button, I want to work on building my blog community, engaging more followers and readers through various social media networks including Instagram and Twitter, reply to all comments on my blog, comment on other blogs and sharing the love. There are many ways you can engage with me - click on the pretty icons on the top right side of this page. I would love to hear from you!

Little Dance Giveaway!

Source: Little Dance Invitations

Thanks to the folks at Little Dance, one lucky reader will have a chance to win a $50 gift voucher for use at their online store. Little Dance provides party and event supplies and ideas customisable to suit your event or theme. With Valentine's Day fast approaching, perhaps a personalised gift might be in order?

To enter, all you have to do is head over to The Moreish Life Facebook page and click Like, simple as that. Competition ends Sunday 7th February 11.59pm AEDT. The winner will be contacted via Facebook to receive your prize. Good luck!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Chanoma Cafe, Sydney (15th May 2015)

Whenever I need to grab a quick bite before heading to the movies at Event Cinemas in the CBD, or just crave a decent matcha (specially grown and processed green tea) soft serve ice cream, Chanoma Cafe is often the first place that comes to mind. Located in Regent Place on George Street, this quaint little Japanese cafe is known for serving a mix of hot and cold snacks, as well as ceremonial-grade matcha-infused beverages and desserts.

Chanoma Cafe in Regent Place on George Street

At 6pm, the cafe was already quite busy though despite a queue in sight, the turnaround time from order to serve is speedy. The menu is kept fairly simple with a good selection of hot teas and lattes (all hot drinks can be upsized to a large for an extra $1), frappes and desserts, and variety of Japa-dog or Japanese hot dog (hot dogs made with Japanese-style foods such as teriyaki and tonkatsu). The food and drinks are made on order and you're given a buzzer once your order is placed and payment made (cash only). 

Chanoma Cafe menu

Pop music fills the air giving the cafe a young and hip feel. Seating is available both indoors and outdoors though I would recommend the latter to avoid having the smell of deep fried food lingering on your clothes as Jono and I soon discovered sitting at the table next to the see-through kitchen.

Watch your food being prepared through the clear glass panes indoors

We selected a few items from the menu to share, starting off with the Creamy Shrimp Dog and Homemade Lemonade. The Creamy Shrimp Dog is a deep fried creamy shrimp croquette wedged in a soft hot dog bun with chopped cabbage and tartar sauce, topped with paprika and finely chopped parsley, and served in a cardboard container. The croquette is covered in a flaky batter giving it a delicious crunchy exterior with tender diced shrimp oozing into the mouth with each bite. I love the Homemade Lemonade (Ice) (also available hot) - a refreshing thirst quencher that is not overly sweet and a great accompaniment to the hotdog :)

Creamy Shrimp Dog ($6.90) - deep fried creamy shrimp croquette, chopped cabbage, paprika, parsley and tartar sauce

Homemade Lemonade (Ice) ($4.50)

As a Washoku Lovers member, I had the additional benefit of ordering the Washoku Lovers Selection at a special price of $9.90 which includes a Chanoma Dog, Shaked Chips, Shiratama Dango and Matcha Latte - a complete meal set that allows you to sample some of Chanoma Cafe's most popular items. The Matcha Latte (comes in regular or large size) is a nice change to my daily cup of tea, a milky matcha infusion that has its own unique vegetal sweet taste; this sweetness and the vibrant green colour of the beverage are key indicators that only top quality matcha is used at the cafe.

Matcha Latte (R) ($4.20)

The Chanoma Dog is made up of a Kransky sausage, curry-flavoured cabbage and salsa sauce wedged in a soft hot dog bun - much stronger in flavour in comparison to the Creamy Shrimp Dog and has quite a spicy kick to it. Our Shaked Chips comes in the basic salt and pepper seasoning but for an extra 50 cents, you can choose from the other four seasonings available: wasabi, teriyaki, soy and seaweed, or chilli and garlic. I wasn't really taken by the Shaked Chips as I was beginning to feel rather greased out after consuming most of the hot dogs...The Shiratama Dango (sweet glutinous rice dumpling) was a much welcomed sweet finish after all our savoury snacks and is served with sweetened whole azuki beans that are still crunchy to the bite.

Shaked Chips ($3.90) + Chanoma Dog ($4.90)

Shiratama Dango

Washoku Lovers Selection ($9.90) - Chanoma Dog + Shaked Chips + Shiratama Dango + Matcha Latte

No visit to Chanoma Cafe would be complete without sampling their dessert so we got the Matcha Parfait to share. An impressive yet whimsical-looking dessert with Japanese sweets carefully piled in a cup - matcha soft serve ice cream, sweet azuki bean paste, crunchy cornflakes, fruit cocktail, shiratama dango, Pocky (Japanese chocolate-coated biscuit sticks), a biscuit roll and ice cream cone, topped with whipped cream and a generous drizzle of green tea syrup. You can't help but feel like an excited kid when collecting the dessert! The Matcha Parfait is a massive serving enough to be a meal on its own and best shared between two people.

Matcha Parfait ($9.50) - matcha soft ice cream, rice cake, sweet red bean paste, Pocky, cornflakes, cone, fruit cocktail, whipped cream and green tea syrup

Open 7 days from 11am - 10pm, you can always fall back to Chanoma Cafe for tasty and affordable snacks and drinks in a jiffy! 

Jono and I dined as guests at Chanoma Cafe with thanks to Yuri from SD Marketing Global and Washoku Lovers.

From a previous visit in Dec 2013:

Anmitsu is a popular summer Japanese dessert made from cubes of kanten (agar jelly) served with sweet azuki bean paste and syrup that is poured onto the jelly before eating. A variety of accompaniments may be served with the anmitsu including cut fruit and green tea/matcha ice cream. The Matcha Anmitsu is one of the two anmitsu desserts available at Chanoma Cafe and comes with their signature matcha soft serve ice cream and shiratama dango with a sprinkling matcha to finish. The azuki bean paste was a mix of mashed up and whole beans giving it a blend of smooth and crunchy texture. The dessert definitely tastes better drizzled with the brown sugar syrup that is served on the side as it enhances the sweetness of ice cream, agar jelly and rice dumplings. A refreshing and light dessert that is great to have on hot summer days.

Matcha Anmitsu ($6.50) - agar jelly with matcha soft ice cream, sweet red bean paste, rice cake and brown sugar syrup

Drizzling the sugar syrup

Click to add a blog post for Chanoma Cafe on Zomato

Friday, 17 April 2015

Dera-Uma, Sydney (17th April 2015)

If you are a fan of Mappen and Oiden, then I'm sure you've discovered their sister branch Dera-Uma, a cheap and cheerful casual Japanese restaurant located in Skyview Shopping Plaza on George Street. Opened in March 2014 replacing the now closed Dog Dog Japon, Dera-Uma (meaning 'very delicious' in the Nagoya dialect) is more similar to Oiden and features mainly donburi aka 'rice bowl dish' and gourmet salads

At 6.30pm, Dera-Uma already has a steady stream of patrons both dining in and ordering takeaways. Set in a Japanese street stall theme, the J-pop music playing in the background gives the restaurant an upbeat atmosphere. Unlike its sibling branches where the restaurants are mostly enclosed, the communal seating area at Dera-Uma spills into the open space of the general walkway, making the venue feel more spacious. There is no need for concern if you do not find yourself a seat straightaway; the turnaround time of eat in diners is pretty good you'll get a seat in no time. 

Meals are made to order and you are given a buzzer once your order is placed and payment made (cash only). While you wait to be buzzed, check out all the cooking action through the clear glass window looking into the kitchen where the friendly staff are busy preparing your meal. Because Dera-Uma is more a takeaway joint, meals are served in plastic containers regardless if you are dining in or taking away.

Dera-Uma located in Skyview Shopping Plaza on George Street

Counter with a selection of topping items to choose from

Some of the menu options available at Dera-Uma

Jono and I selected a few items from the menu to share, starting off with a gourmet salad and opted for the Stewed Wagyu Beef Salad, a bowl of mix leaves with three salad fillings of our choice, topped with thinly sliced stewed Wagyu beef. There is even a handy 4-step order form to use when ordering your gourmet salad: first choose your salad, then choose up to three fillings from the choices available (add 90 cents for extra fillings) followed by extra toppings (optional), and finally select your dressing (choice of sesame, balsamic vinegar, French, wasabi or Japanese) and the amount you want on the salad (light, medium or heavy). I like the mix and match option as it makes the ordering process interactive and fun. We had corn kernel, cucumber and tomato for our fillings, and wasabi dressing in medium amount to accompany our salad. Hand your completed form to the cashier on order and watch your salad being prepared right in front of you. The serving is generous and tasted deliciously healthy.

Use the handy order form when ordering your Gourmet Salad

Choice of salad fillings - tofu, boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, olive, feta cheese, celery, kidney bean, walnuts and seaweed

Extra toppings - Pork Fillet Katsu, White Fish Fry, Chicken Kara-Age, Chicken Katsu

Stewed Wagyu Beef Salad ($7.90) - stewed sliced Wagyu beef, mix vegetables + your choice of any three salad fillings

Dera-Uma features three Original Drinks - Iced Green Tea, Iced Lemon Tea or Iced Mugi-Cha (roasted barley tea) - all served chilled. A refreshing drink and great compliment to the savoury dishes. My personal favourite is the Iced Lemon Tea which is slightly sweeter than the others. There are also other canned or bottled drinks available such as Coke, water and non-alcoholic Japanese beverages.

Iced Lemon Tea ($1.50) and Green Tea ($1.50)

The Sauce-Fish Katsu was a donburi with crumbed white fish drenched in a salty-sweet fry sauce, drizzled with mayo served on a bed of rice topped spring onion and pickled radish on the side. The crumbed fish still had its crispy texture though I felt the fry sauce a bit too salty for my taste buds. Fortunately our chilled drinks helped balance out the sodium making the dish much more palatable.

Sauce-Fish Katsu ($7.50) - crumbed deep fried white fish, coleslaw, mayo, pickled radish and special fry sauce on rice

My favourite dish of the lot was the signature Tamago Toji-Chicken Katsu, crumbed deep fried chicken cooked with sliced onions in a beaten egg mixture topped with spring onion. I had the pleasure of watching staff Aki prepare our dish from the viewing station - she had two mini saucepans of the tamago toji cooking concurrently on the gas stove top; she would lift the lid to check on the cooking progress every now and then whilst preparing the next batch for cooking. Timing and coordination is key so as not to overcook the food. Once ready, Aki then skilfully slides the cooked Tamago Toji-Chicken Katsu onto a prepared bowl of rice, and serves it with pickled radish on the side.

Chicken Katsu (crumbed deep fried chicken) and onion covered in a beaten egg mixture topped with spring onion cooking on the stove

Our Tamago Toji-Chicken Katsu is almost done!

Aki skillfully sliding the cooked Tamago Toji-Chicken Katsu on top of a bowl of rice

The partially cooked egg envelopes the crumbed chicken giving it a unique texture - a mix of tender meat with a crunchy crumbed exterior combined into a saucy/runny egg omelette. A simple yet delicious comfort food that fills my belly.

Toji-Chicken Katsu ($7.50) - crumbed deep fried chicken, onion & shallot, cooked in 2 or 3 eggs on rice

Washoku Lovers members - you would be pleased to learn that Dera-Uma is offering members the Washoku Lovers Selection Set at a special price of $9.90 which includes the Toji-Chicken Katsu Bowl, a mini salad, miso soup and an Original Drink of your choiceA complete meal set and very good deal in my books! Don't have a Washoku Lovers membership yet? Head over to their website to sign up (it's free!) and receive great food and drink deals from participating Japanese restaurants.

Washoku Lovers Selection ($9.90) - Original Drink, Toji-Chicken Katsu Bowl, Mini Salad and Miso Soup

As an added bonus for Washoku Lovers members, if you post about your experience at any participating restaurant and hashtag it to #ilovewahosku on Instagram or Facebook between now and the end of June, you could stand a chance to win something uniquely Japanese. For the month of April, the choice of prizes include a set of Japanese sake bottles and cups from Arita valued at $160, a $200 dinner voucher to a mystery Japanese restaurant, Kyokushin Karate lessons, skincare products by i-white, and Japanese nails at Tia Rouge. Prizes change every month - see Washoku Lovers Competition for more details on prizes and how to enter.

Enter the Washoku Competition to win great prizes!

Overall, the food at Dera-Uma is tasty and affordable, and service was friendly and fast. Though you can upsize most dishes from regular to large for just under $2, I would recommend going for a regular to start. The regular bowl may look small but the serving is actually quite generous and dishes are sauce-heavy so does fill you up. We will have to return to check out their intriguing Grilled Beef Hamburger Steak bowls!

If you're intending to take away, it is advisable that you consume your meal within 2 hours. You will need to place your order at least 2 hours prior to pick up if ordering more than 10 takeaways.

Jono and I dined as guests at Dera-Uma with thanks to Yuri from SD Marketing Global and Washoku Lovers.

Dera-Uma on Urbanspoon

Monday, 13 April 2015

Rengaya, North Sydney (13th April 2015)

Since returning to the North Sydney business precinct for work, I've been revisiting many of my old food joints and have not had the chance to check out new ones that have popped up so when SD Marketing Global invited me to a tasting at Rengaya, I was thrilled at the opportunity to check out a restaurant I've never been before and said yes!

Established in 1993 and conveniently located on Miller Street across from North Sydney train station, Rengaya is known to be Australia's first and finest yakiniku restaurant serving premium Wagyu with a beef marble score of 9+ and quality fresh seafoodYakiniku (which translates to 'grilled meat') is a style of cooking fresh, seasoned ingredients on a mesh and grilled over direct flame. Each table at the restaurant has a built-in grill where diners cook their chosen ingredients at their own pace. Besides Waygu beef and seafood, there are also other meats such as pork and chicken as well as vegetable options for the grill, plus plenty of popular Japanese dishes e.g. sashimi, udon, shabu-shabu, salads and sides to compliment your yakiniku.

Rengaya Japanese BBQ restaurant in North Sydney

Samurai warrior on display at the main entrance

Through the entrance glass doors, the sizzling sounds and aroma of delicious grilled meat permeates the air luring you straight in - one can't help but feel famished! At 6.30pm, the restaurant was beginning to fill up, groups of diners seen happily socialising over drinks and grilling food at their tables. I had the pleasure of dining with Yuri (SD Marketing Global) and Vanny (Nessy Eater) this evening - over the course of our shared meal, we got to know more about one another, sharing plenty of laughs and of course, our foodie and blogging adventures :)

Patrons enjoying Japanese cuisine at Rengaya

As part of my Washoku Lovers membership, I was entitled to a free drink at Rengaya of either a glass of Japanese draft beer (choice of Asahi Super Dry on tap or Suntory - The Premium Malt's value up to $9.50) or a soft drink from the drinks menu. All I had to do was present my membership card on order. If you love Japanese food, I highly recommend signing up for a Washoku Lovers membership. It's free to join and you get to score some freebies at participating Japanese restaurants. Each restaurant offers a different free food or drink deal to members - see website for more details.

The Kinako Milk from the soft drink options caught my eye so we ordered one for me to sample. Kinako (literally translates to 'yellow flour') aka roasted soy flour, is a common ingredient used in Japanese desserts due to its mild sweet taste and powdery texture. Mixed with milk or soy milk, this drink can be consumed hot or cold and is said to help maintain cholesterol levels making it a popular health beverage in Asia. The Kinako Milk at Rengaya is served chilled - a refreshing drink with a nutty flavour that leaves the distinct grainy feel on the tongue.

Kinako Milk ($5.90)

Our side dish of Namuru (similar to the Korean seasoned vegetables namul) is made up of five kinds of vegetables - bean sprouts, zucchini, shiitake mushroom, white radish and spinach - that is served raw or lightly cooked and seasoned with salt, vinegar, sesame oil or a combination of these seasoning. A great starter to nibble on while we wait for more dishes to arrive at the table. The seasoned mushroom is my personal favourite!

Namuru ($8.90) - 5 kinds of Korean flavoured vegetables

Feeling a little adventurous? Then try the Wagyu "Yukke", a tender Wagyu beef tartare that is served with finely chopped shallots, sesame oil, garlic and topped with a raw egg yolk. The quality and freshness of the raw beef is key in this dish (reduces the risk of bacteria contamination) so only order the yukke from reputable Japanese restaurants. To eat, break the egg yolk and mix it in with the beef.

Wagyu "Yukke" ($13.90) - Wagyu beef tartare served with finely chopped shallots, sesame oil, garlic & egg yolk on top

To eat, break the egg yolk and mix it in with the beef

Though the menu comes with a helpful anatomically correct drawing of the various cuts of beef, it is still quite a daunting task to narrow down a select few cuts especially if you don't know your beef cuts well. We opted for the Premium Wagyu Amusement which showcases a selection of the chef recommended Wagyu beef cuts - rib, loin, oyster, rib finger and ox tongue. The cuts were generously thick and lusciously marbled, glistening as it cooks on the mesh with any excess fat dripping off into the catch tray below. Like any good meat, you only need to turn it once during cooking. Cook the beef to your liking, then remove it from the grill using the tongs provided. Dip it in your choice of yakiniku sauce and enjoy. The meat is lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and tastes great on its own or with the sauce. A squeeze of lemon juice makes it all the more delectable. 

Built-in grill at the table to cook your chosen ingredients 

Wedge of lemon and yakiniku sauce

Premium Wagyu Amusement ($49.90) - chef's recommendation of premium Wagyu beef cuts: Wagyu Rib, Wagyu Loin, Wagyu Oyster, Wagyu Rib Finger and Wagyu Ox Tongue

I've had ox tongue at Korean BBQ restaurants in the past but they usually come thinly sliced unlike the thick cuts served in the Premium Wagyu Amusement. The chunky meat oozes in fat and beefy juices, melting in the mouth with each bite. Deliciously satisfying though personally I would prefer it in small quantities (no more than two pieces for me) as it is too fatty for my liking. 

Wagyu Ox Tongue in thick cut cooking on the grill

Seasoned lightly with salt and pepper, the grilled Wagyu Ox Tongue is juicy and tender

To help balance out our meat consumption, we also ordered a plate of Wrap-Up Lettuce Leaves which was eaten together with the meat. To make a lettuce wrap, first spread the homemade miso sauce thinly on the lettuce leaf. Dip your cooked meat in the yakiniku sauce then place it on the prepared leaf, topping it up with some sliced carrots, garlic and green chillies, then wrap and eat!

Wrap-Up Lettuce Leaves ($8.90) - lettuce, green chilli, carrot and garlic served with homemade miso dip

Making up a lettuce wrap with a bit of everything

The Stone Pot Mentaiko Bibimbap (with soup) is beautifully presented with namuru, egg, chilli cod roe and squid served on top a bed of rice in a hot stone pot, and comes with a bowl of piping hot miso soup and a sweet and spicy miso paste on the side. Loved the combination of textures and flavours - chewy squid, cooked egg and seasoned vegetables stirred in with fluffy short grain rice and bits of crunchy cooked rice in the mix with spicy paste to give it a bit of a kick.

Stone Pot Mentaiko Bibimbap (with soup) ($15.90) - vegetable, egg, chilli cod roe, and squid on rice in a hot stone pot

Mixed rice

To finish, we ordered two desserts to share: the "WA 和 (Japanese)" Plate and Shiratama Cream Anmitsu. The wonderful waitstaff gave us small dessert forks and individual plates which are chilled to help keep our desserts cool for longer. If you only have room for one dessert, then you can't go wrong with the "WA 和 (Japanese)" Plate made up of a variety of Japanese desserts - warabimochi (a jelly-like confection made from bracken starch and coated in kinako) served with sweet black syrup on the side, shiratama zenzai (sweet red bean soup with mochi) and green tea creme brulee accompanied with a cup of warm Japanese tea. For something a little more refreshing, opt for the Shiratama Cream Anmitsukanten (aka agar) with shiratama (mochi) and sweet red beans topped with vanilla and green tea ice cream, served with sweet black syrup on the side and seasonal fruits. Both desserts were lovely and not overly sweet.

"WA 和 (Japanese)" Plate ($18.90) - warabimochi with sweet black syrup, shiratama zenzai and green tea creme brulee served with tea

Shiratama Cream Anmitsu ($15.90) - Kanten with shiratama and sweet red beans topped with vanilla and green tea ice cream served with sweet black syrup and seasonal fruits

Drenching the dessert with sweet black syrup

Complimentary Japanese tea was served whilst us girls enjoyed our desserts and continued chit-chatting. Overall, the quality and selection of food at Rengaya was excellent, and service was friendly and prompt. Surprisingly, I didn't walk away smelling like yakiniku at the end of the night!

No doubt good quality food and service comes with a cost; Rengaya is not your everyday dining venue but one you would visit for special occasions or if you want to impress. Perhaps a more bang for your buck option is their all-you-can-eat buffet menu at $69 per head but be prepared to eat your money's worth within a 2-hour service window (last orders taken at 90-minutes and there is a $10-$30 charge for leftovers if you ordered more food than you can consume). 

I dined as a guest at Rengaya with thanks to Yuri from SD Marketing Global and Washoku Lovers.

Rengaya on Urbanspoon