Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Katsura - Neutral Bay

Katsura - japanese hall

Not having enjoyed Japanese for a long long while, dinner was booked at the Japanese restaurant - Katsura. Being super hungry after work/uni, my partner and I ordered many many dishes. One down side (or upside) of this restaurant was they bought out our dishes one by one. Maybe that's so that we can enjoy each dish in its entirety. However, it also meant that people like me who like to jump from flavour to flavour cannot be completely appeased nor could I be swept away by a table-full of food. Also, it means that you and your dinner partner need to have good conversational skills, otherwise, it will be a long boring dinner~

The first dish that arrived for the night was the seaweed salad ($9.50). The crisp greens and yummy seaweed was drenched (but not overly drenched) in a vinegary sauce (not unlike the vinegar which put into sushi rice).

Seaweed salad - $9.50

After the healthy appetiser, along came the unhealthy deep-fried dish. The soft-shell crab kara-age ($12.50) was unexpectingly good. The aroma of this dish was crying out "eat me! eat me!" and with just the first bite, I knew that the delicious scent was not trying to deceive me. The legs were light and crunchy and the meat was juicy and super tastey! It was like a combination of crispyness with juicy tenderness! Mmm... I could definately eat more of this.

Soft shell crab kara-age - $12.50

A dish which blew me away even more was the Grilled Cream Oysters ($16 for half a dozen). Whist no aroma's wafted from this dish, it was so amazingly good! Carrot and white radish ribbons were embedded below the cream chese, providing a contrasting yet complementary texture to the smooth and slimyness of the oysters (which were cooked - not overcooked). The flying fish roe on top accentuated the flavours of the cheese and oysters. Yummm! I could have this everyday!

Super delicious grilled cream oysters - $16

The oysters deserved a close-up

Being a cold night, I also got the miso soup ($2.50). The miso soup here was nice - but like any other.

Miso Soup - $2.50

Then came the Tokujyo Yaki Wagyu ($36). This was beef with a super marbled score of 9+. I have to admit, my first bite of this was met with disappointment. The outer layer (the cooked bit) was rough whilst the middle (raw bits) were smooth, creating an interesting, but not entirely enjoyable feeling in my mouth. However, the sauce (soy + sugar + mirin) is awesomeness. The second thought which came to mind was that I was being unreasonable and comparing it to Kobe and Matsuzaka beef we had in Japan (which is a superior grade beef for a sky-high price). So with that in mind, I thoroughly enjoyed my next slice of Wagyu. It was definately a lot more tender, rich and flavoursome compared to your average steak.

Wagyu beef (marble score 9+) - $36

Feeling still kind of hungry by this stage (and with just one more dish to come) my partner and I decided to order a hand roll each. As I was facing the sushi chef all throughout dinner, I saw him "play" (yes - literally play) with our food. He wrapped, unwrapped, re-wrapped, and wrapped the seaweed on this handroll repeatedly! omigosh ~ why would he do that??? When the hand roll arrived at out table, the mystery was solved. The holes for the hand-roll holder was TINY - there is no way the hand-rolls would fit in unless they too, were tiny. And hence, the hand roll was quite disproportionally tiny and squashed at the bottom (not that the hand roll itself was big). The salmon and avocado hand roll ($5) was good ish. No soy sauce was provided (wierd). The avocado was nicely ripe, the salmon however, was a bit chewy. The rice was deliciously and almost perfectly vingared. And the seaweed? Yes, it was definately tough and chewy (the chef did play with it for prolonged periods of time). No complaints on the unagi hand roll ($6) from my partner apart from the obvious seaweed issue.

Handrolls - $5-6

And... by the time we finished our hand-rolls, we felt the food slowly creep up on our stomachs. We did, however, still manage to finish off our last dish for the night - the seafood butter yaki ($13) which is assorted seafood pan-grilled with a soy and butter sauce. Mmm... buttery... The seafood was fresh and the butter aroma was satisfying.

Butter seafood yaki - $13

Overall, the food was good - a bit slow in coming out - but good nonetheless. The waitresses always addressed us politely with Jap-accented English. The restaurant is split into the Yakiniku (BBQ) side and the Japanese hall. Our side of the restaurant was peaceful and quiet - perfect for a chill-out dinner.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 32/40

Katsura Japanese Restaurant
11/129-133 Military Road
Neutral Bay
NSW, 2089
tel: (02) 9904 5755

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