I have always loved Sakanaya so was very glad to be sent there to review it for someone (not this blog). It reminds me of surfy bars in Japan in Chiba where the food is good and the staff relaxed. Stark contrast to so much of the rest of the country, where everything is go go go.
In looking for a phone number I found a lot of discouraging reviews by diners, but all complaints were about deal vouchers, and not food so I wasn’t deterred. We decided to brave taking our little angels out with us – a choice I might not repeat for a while.
We ordered a chicken teriyaki donburi ($14), a small sashimi ($13), some sushi ($7.50), ika geso ($7.50), seaweed salad ($10), renkon chips ($6) and kumara tempura ($7.50) and were pleased with our choices – well almost all of them.
The flavours are as good as they’ve always been and I am still thinking about the Ika Geso. I love deep fried squid tentacles and these just might be the best in town. Impossibly tender with the perfect batter, light and crispy with wonderful seasoning . There was a little tussle as the kids loved them too! The sushi was freshly made and everything good sushi should be: soft, not-to-vinegary rice, fresh fillings. The salad was also lovely with shredded slaw style veggies, a generous serve of spicy seaweed and that wonderful japanese soy/rice vinegar/ginger/garlic/citrus dressing. All in perfect balance.
The renkon chips were a hit with all ages – so nice to have something other than potatoes deep fried and salted, and lotus root is so aesthetically pleasing as well. They were perfectly sliced in my opinion too, not too thick or thin. The Kumara tempura was pleasant but unremarkable, in all fairness, how exciting can battered kumara get? The kids loved it and that was the main aim of that dish.
There were a couple of let downs unfortunately. The Chicken Teriyaki donburi was perfectly flavoured with rice on the bottom, a layer of slaw and kewpie mayo in the middle and all topped with chicken bathed in a wonderfully sweet/salty teriyaki sauce. I felt the chicken could have been more tender but it didn’t mar our enjoyment of it. It came with a small seaweed salad and some white miso and was great value for $14. The sashimi however, was just not fresh enough and I think if you’re going to serve raw fish, it should be glistening, super-fresh and melt in your mouth. The salmon was all of these but the snapper and tuna failed miserably, to the point that we couldn’t bring ourselves to finish it.
I know Sakanaya is busy in the weekends and I am going to assume they get fresh fish in on a Friday for the weekend, but it wasn’t great form. Would it put me off going back? No. I love this place and definitely want to give it the benefit of the doubt for an off night, but second time I may have to reconsider.
The thing I like about this place is it’s the real deal with things like natou (not a personal favourite but shows the authenticity), mackerel and grilled salmon wing that you don’t see often in other places (we love the mackerel!). The staff are lovely and the service the perfect speed. I really hope this was just a bad supplier day as this is ususally a great restaurant. I also hope they sort out whatever is going on with their deals as it was pretty quiet when we went and I’d like to see Sakanaya be as busy as it used to, and deserves, to be.