Saturday night in Sydney was spent going out for dinner and drinks nearish to where my friend S lives…. so after one of the scariest cab rides of my life (and I have been in cabs in Vietnam and Thailand so this is saying something), we arrived outside Iiza Japanese restaurant in Newtown.
The restaurant was packed out, and this was only the downstairs area. Apparently there was a whole other level upstairs, which explained why there was always numerous groups coming and going through the restaurant.
We ordered a whole bottle of Umeshu (plum wine $38 per bottle) between us to drink, the first thing I noticed was that it was Kikkoman – same brand as the soy sauce – and that it was rather darkly coloured. The only plum wine I have ever had was a pale yellow colour. It was a lot stronger flavoured than the plum wine I have previously had, but was still pleasantly sweet and easy to drink.
Our shared entrees were gyoza ($8.50 for 6pieces), which were presented nicely in a wooden platter, deliciously pan fried and plump contents. Edamame ($6.80) were self explanatory, these soybeans are always good to suck on and munch their contents, a little more salting would have been appreciated though. Final entree was chicken karaage ($17), which had a nice light batter, a tartly dressed side salad but with a strange tartare sauce, which was not like any tartare that I have ever tried… not a fan, it was just odd tasting.
My friend S ordered Teriyaki duck ($23) an attractively presented dish, except the fat on the duck was very gooey and should have been crisped up in my opinion.
My main was the Yakiniki wagyu beef ($25), a classic example of using the word “wagyu” to make the dish sound much more awesome than it is. It came out sizzling hot, literally, and with odd large chunks of carrot, capsicum and baby corn. The meat was nice tasting although somewhat gristly and chewy.
Looking back I would have liked to try some fresh sashimi and sushi, which I could see going out to other tables, seemed to look great. We tended more to the fried food to try and line our stomachs for the evening. The food here was overall quite good, our entrees were excellent, but I wasn’t a major fan of my main and feel some of our dishes could use a little tweaking.