Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Monday, August 15, 2011

Izakaya Sakura Japanese Restaurant, Northbridge

Izakaya Sakura Japanese Restaurant Northbridge reviews; Izakaya Sakura reviews
For me, when it comes to Japanese food it's hard for me to go past traditional food with traditional service.  I find that the flavour combinations (which are also present at good modern Japanese restaurants) are often subtle and enhance the flavours of the core ingredients.

Izakaya Sakura has taken over the former Ayami restaurant situated across from Russell Square in Northbridge - much to my disappointment as I thought Ayami offered the best sushi and sashimi in Perth.  However, I'm pleased that Izayaka Sakura has been a good successor with good traditional food and a great Izakaya experience.  The restaurant has been decorated with Japanese decor (see their website for more photos) and is complete with friendly and helpful Japanese service.

Izakaya Sakura's name says it all - izakaya meaning Japanese small dishes designed to be shared.  Most of the dishes are of that izakaya size - smallish and designed so you can order multiple dishes to sample and share, however there are a few set meals for one such as bento boxes.

The menu of these izakaya dishes offers quite a large choice of options with many traditional Japanese offerings as well as a few other exciting ones.  What's more, the menu doesn't heavily rely on deep fried food or unhealthy rich creamy sauces making it a more pleasant experience for those who like variety and moderation.  Instead, there is a decent choice including cold dishes, sashimi, hot dishes, teppanyaki, deep fried food, noodles, and salad.

Beef tataki - $12

Thinly sliced beef that had been lightly seared was served with spring onion, dried garlic slices, a spicy garnish (possibly chilli ground daikon), and ponzu sauce (the ponzu sauce was quite vinegary and sour, but also had light hints of sweetness and a stock taste).

The beef was noticeably marbelised and nearly melted in the mouth, and the garlic when eaten alone was very strong.  Quite a typical Japanese dish, this dish met my expectations for a good virtually raw been dish.

Wafuu beef steak - $10

The beef steak in this dish was sliced at about a centimetre thickness, cooked pretty much well done so that it didn't melt in the mouth, and served with a "special sauce".

The chunks of meat were welcome in my mouth, and despite being cooked more than I would have liked the sauce made this a moderately tasty dish that wasn't dry nor tough.

Maguro ponzu - $14

This dish was on the specials menu for the night and was lightly seared tuna with ponzu sauce on a bed of daikon.

In searing the tuna the outer crust was light brown with darker specks and had an almost smokey flavour and harder texture.  The inside of the tuna was cooked (or rather uncooked) perfectly.  The ponzu flavour was light around the tuna but definitely added its flavour to each slice of the tuna.

The dish was quite simple and perhaps a bit like a variation of tuna sashimi.

Sashimi moriawase (medium) - $22

This mixed sashimi dish was a combination of raw salmon, tuna, scallop, squid, and a white fish.   Served with wasabi, this dish was quite standard fare though noticeably the tuna looked pale compared to other tuna sashimi I have seen.  The scallop was sliced very thinly (seemed to be like 1 scallop sliced into 4 slices) and it melted in the mouth.

The variety was decent and the fish was fresh, but the serving wasn't huge for the price and the cut was quite simple.

Tuna sashimi - $12.50

This dish was similar to the sashimi moriawase above.  Again not the biggest serve, but there aren't many authentic Japanese restaurants that give you good servings these days.

Kisu fry - $8

Four whiting fillet strips were coated in panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), deep fried, and served with Japanese Worcestershire sauce and alongside some deep fried rice noodles.

The whiting fillet was firm and seemed fresh, and the panko was noteably crunchy.

All up, a good Japanese "fish fingers" style of dish - only better.

Takoyaki - $7

These takoyaki, being six octopus dumplings, were balls of pan fried stock flavoured dough balls mixed with octopus and spring onion.  They were served garnished with bonito (fish flakes which to me don't really taste that fishy), pickled ginger, and Japanese mayonnaise and Japanese Worcestershire sauce.

For me, this was a pretty average tasting takoyaki with perhaps a tad too much sauce.  I always enjoy watching the bonito "move" when placed on top of hot food though.

Tori ball - $8

Four crumbed chicken balls filled with cheese and garlic were served with Japanese Worcestershire sauce and deep fried rice noodles.

The chicken balls were slightly crunchy on the outside, and inside the cheese was melted and gooey and the garlic flavour was noticeable but not overpowering.

Agedashi tofu - $7

This deep fried tofu had a starchy outside coating (a bit like a golden stretchable jelly that had absorbed some of the stock based soup) and was silky smooth inside.  The fish stock soup surrounding the tofu had a good depth of flavour, well seasoned and having a mild nice fish flavour running through it.

With the coating on the tofu and the fish stock, I found this to be a tasty-for-tofu dish.

Renkon chips - $5

Forget potato chips, try lotus root chips.  Surely lotus root is healthy for you?

These renkon chips were very crisp and crunchy, and seasoned well to make a great alternative to potato crisps.

Salmon teriyaki bento - $19.50 (lunch: $13)

The bento boxes come standard with steamed rice, salad, edamame (beans where you only eat the inside peas), miso soup and pickled ginger.  All of these were quite standard, but well prepared.

The salmon teriyaki was pieces of skinless salmon cooked in a moderately thick, golden sweet and soy sauce flavoured teriyaki sauce.  The salmon seemed like it had been infused with the teriyaki sauce as it was quite flavoured with the taste throughout which also helped to reduce the otherwise strong salmon flavour.

Karaage bento - $17 (lunch: $12)

The karaage bento had chunks of chicken lightly coated in flour and deep fried.  The skin was only very slightly crunchy, the chicken seemed moderately tasty from seasoning/marinade, but the seemed a tad on the dry side.  Also lacking was any Japanese mayonnaise and/or Japanese Worcestershire sauce which would have helped it.

However, all up the karaage bento was an ok meal.

Chicken teriyaki bento - $19.50 (lunch: $12.50)

The chicken teriyaki was a fillet of chicken with skin on that had been cooked with the same teriyaki sauce as the salmon above.  The skin seemed like it had been rendered out of a lot of the fat, and again the chicken seemed like it had been well infused with the teriyaki flavour.  Though it seemed like it was cooked for longer than I would have liked, the chicken fell apart easily and wasn't dry when with the sauce.

In summary, Izakaya Sakura brings to Perth another traditional Japanese food experience.  The food is of a good standard and the style of eating allows everyone to taste a lot of different dishes whilst enjoying each other's company (not to mention some Japanese alcohol).

We liked:  The authenticity of the dishes; the variety of dishes; Japanese patrons actually eat here; a reasonable selection of shochu and some sake and plum wine too.

We didn't like: Whilst it's cheaper than some other izakaya out there, the more simple nature of the dishes can make this not a cheap eat out if you are very hungry.

Other things to note: Whilst the full menu is available at dinner, at lunch they only serve a limited menu consisting of bento boxes as well as some noodle and rice bowl meals.  Vegetarians may also be quite limited in what they can eat so check out the menu on their website beforehand.

Izakaya Sakura
Shop 2, 182 James Street
Northbridge WA 6003
(08) 9328 2525

Trading Hours
Lunch - Wednesday to Sunday - 12noon to 2pm
Dinner - Wednesday to Sunday - 6pm to 10pm

Izakaya Sakura Japanese restaurant on Urbanspoon


Steph said...

Great review. Am planning a visit quite soon.

Adrian (The Editor) said...

Thanks Steph.

Hope you enjoy it.

Mans said...

Great review as always!
Will visit and try eating at other Japanese restaurants than the usual ones that I frequent too much! Bit sad that Ayami is gone though.
You're right the takoyaki looks drenched with sauce. But looking forward to trying the tofu, beef tataki and wagyu steak.

Ps: have you been to Quarter's lately? Been there three times in the past few months and somehow the quality of the food has gone downhill... :/

Mei @Libertine Eats said...

Beautiful photos and nice review! I'm looking forward to trying this place soon. I wonder if the takoyaki is freshly made or just the plain old frozen sort...

Adrian said...

Hi Mans

Thanks! Which Japanese restaurants do you frequent? I will have to go back and try some other dishes too.

No I haven't been to Quarter lately but was planning to go in a month or two. Not good if they have gone downhill - maybe I should wait a little longer and see if they improve again back to what got them a star in the first place...

Adrian said...

Hi Mei

Thank you!

To be honest, I think the takoyaki are of the frozen sort. Hence they were pretty average.

I think that might mean the best takoyaki might still be home made ones!

Mans said...

Hi! I normally go to Nine Fine Food and Yoshiya. Eventhough Nine isn't authentic and I am usually not so keen on fusion but I think Nine gets it right. A few experimental misses but forgiven! :)
Fresh sashimi, beautiful sauces, heck, they even make better steak than alot of the other 'steakhouse' out there!
Any other Japanese restaurants that you recommend we should try?

Yup, i hope they up their game too. I love my lamb but they have managed to overbook it twice and that spinach puree was too grainy and salty on both occasion.

Have you been to Blackbird? Amazing food although sometimes have 'overseasoning' problem.

Look forward to your next restaurant review!

Mans said...

Oops, comment got a bit too long! As usual, always getting carried away when talking about food.

Adrian said...

Hi Mans

Nine Fine Food is great for fusion (the only fusion place I really like in Perth so far). I used to go there regularly for their omakase (after I got a bit bored of the set menu but agree their steak with the miso based sauce is excellent). However haven't been in a while so I'll have to go back soon. I have only been to yoshiya once a long time ago and the teppanyaki steak I got was a bit ordinary.

Not really sure which other Japanese restaurants that are great that I haven't reviewed. I hear Satsuki is good, Jun is frequented by expats for their dinner izakaya menu. Nobu is coming to Perth too but if the Melbourne restaurant is anything to go by, that will be a mixed bag but hopefully good if you order well.

I haven't been to blackbird - will have to put that on the list of places to go to. There are so many places to try.

No problems, I can get a bit long winded too when it comes to food! But thanks for your comments and suggestions - always good to hear from people who know their good restaurants.

Tim said...

Finally am looking for like this IZAKAYA in Perth!!
must go there. thanx!

Mans said...

Satsuki, used to go there when I still lived in the neighborhood. Their baked salmon and grilled mackerel were yumm.

Havent tried Jun but going there next week based on your recommendation.

Trying Kanta this weekend, hope it's as good as the raves it's received!

Have a great weekend, eat plenty! :)