I love Japanese food, and when I go out, Japanese is one of my favourite options because it is a cuisine that I rarely cook at home.
There are lots of Japanese options in Perth:
1. Classy Japanese restaurants
2. Kaiten sushi bars
3. Canteen style takeaway or eat in fast food
Some of you may think that Japanese is all about raw fish, and you are put off by this idea. Please don’t be put off because it is very possible to eat Japanese food without having anything raw, however if you are brave enough to try raw fish, you will probably love it. My favourite raw fish is tuna, and sashimi grade fish is of the freshest highest quality – you can have it thick cut or thin cut – I prefer thin, and you generally dip it in a little dish of soy. You can add wasabi to the soy to flavour it, but I prefer to add wasabi to the fish before dipping it. Wasabi is the green Japanese horseradish, but bear in mind that it is very variable. The bright green wasabi that you get in the canteen style bars is very bland and has maybe been tailored to non-Japanese palates, but the paler sometimes home-made variety that you get in classy restaurants is stronger and in my opinion nicer. I quite like the taste of wasabi when it whooshes up my nose like strong horseradish… but I know it is not for everybody, so have a little taste first to see what type of wasabi you are being served. As well as sashimi and sushi, other Japanese favourites are teriyaki, which is fish or chicken sometimes battered in a thick sweet sauce and served with salad and rice, or curries like katsu which tends to be a rich fruity curry. I also love tempura which is vegetables and prawns deep fried in a very light batter and served with a dipping sauce. If you are in a classy restaurant you will probably be served with a mound of grated radish to add to the dipping sauce which adds another lovely savoury flavour to the experience.
If you want to try the whole range of Japanese options available, I would recommend going to somewhere like Shimizu Grand in Floreat which provides an ‘all you can eat’ buffet for a fixed price. Once there you can sample everything from raw fish sashimi, various types of sushi, to all kinds of curries and hot dishes, dumplings and tempura.
Once you are hooked you may want to eat at a classy Japanese restaurant and my favourites are Ha-Lu in Oxford St, Mount Hawthorn, Satsuki in Station Square, Subiaco and of course the world famous Nobu at Burswood.
Other restaurants which are good, but not quite as classy as Ha-Lu and Nobu are Tsunami in Glyde Street, Mosman Park, Toraya which is just off Station Square in Subiaco, and Nine Fine Food, Bulwer St, Northbridge.
For a more casual option you can try kaiten sushi where the dishes travel around the restaurant on a conveyor belt and you choose the dishes which look most appealing as they go past. Each plate is colour coded (each colour represents a price), and at the end of the meal the wait staff will count the empty plates.
The best kaiten sushi bar used to be Yuzu in Mount Lawley but unfortunately it got taken over by new management and the standard of the plates went downhill. Currently the best kaiten sushi bar is Jaws in Hay Street, but it is a crazy busy experience where you will be crammed in, fed and turned around in a very short space of time. There is also Edo Shiki in Murray Street mall, but they serve dim sum too, and I prefer a restaurant to specialise in one cuisine rather than trying to be all things to all people. Having said that, Edo Shiki is quite good and worth a try.
The third kind of Japanese establishment is the canteen style fast food that you get in all shopping centres like Nagoya, Zushi Bento, Kyoto, Mikasa and Yumi. They rarely serve raw fish, but they do excel at standard sushi options like prawn and avocado, crispy chicken, crabstick and cucumber, and they tend to serve soups and curries and bento boxes.
One of my absolute favourite fast food options is Shou in Greenwood shopping centre. It has a few tables which you can book, and serves all the favourite bento boxes plus sashimi and sushi, and has the bonus of serving sashimi and soft shell crab. The owner is a lovely guy who will even make up maki rolls ‘off menu’ – I sometimes ask for the tuna option with raw tuna and he happily obliges for no extra charge. The teriyaki fish bento box is superb and comes with rice, salad, pickles and edamame.
My favourite dishes are:
Nobu – Pork Belly Miso Caramel; Sashimi Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing; Spicy Tuna Sushi Rolls; Banana Harumaki dessert (like a banana spring roll to die for)
Ha-Lu – Scallop Nanban; Duck with Madeira and Aubergine; Warm Salad with Root Vegetables and Onsen Egg (which is a perfect slow cooked egg served in a crispy basket which you then break up and mix through the salad).
Satsuki – tuna tataki (signature dish), sashimi salad, wonton basket prawn.
Kaiten bars – Soft shell crab maki rolls; Tobiko gunkan (tobiko is flying fish roe which looks like orange caviar and has a lovely savoury fishy flavour that you can’t really describe).
The reason I love Ha-Lu is because it is designed for sharing. If you allow between 2 and 3 dishes per person, you will have a very nice variety of food. If you do decide to embrace Japanese food, you will find it a real feast for the eyes as well as the tummy.
STOP PRESS – added 28th Jan 2013
I didn’t take many photos on this occasion, but found the kani roll (soft shell crab) to be very very nice, the wasabe is good quality, nice and hot. The sushi train also had raw tuna sashimi style which was good quality and tasty. I’ll definitely be returning to savour some more dishes and take more pictures.