Adelaide’s Japanese Food Scene is Small But Perfectly Formed

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Apr 12, 2017

by NIGEL HOPKINS, Writer

Adelaide’s finest ramen, sushi and gyoza.

Takumi Yakitori

The original owners modelled Takumi Yakitori on a hole-in-the-wall eatery
in Tokyo. Here it’s slightly larger but 
just as noisy and gregarious; the sort
 of place where local Japanese residents feel right at home. Under owner, chef and head waiter Eddie Ye, the menu 
has expanded to offer a large range of delicious grilled and skewered yakitori, along with popular dishes such as vegetable gyoza and tempura button mushrooms with green-tea salt. Sauces and seasonings are all made in-house, notably the tare sauce that adds a flavour boost to many of the grilled morsels. There’s convivial booth seating at Takumi; alternatively, sit at the bar overlooking the grill and admire the range of nearly 30 Japanese whiskies.

Shop 60, 55 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide; (08) 8239 2111

SEE ALSO: Adelaide’s 10 Best Restaurants

Nagomi Japanese Kitchen

Owner and head chef Nobuki (Nobu) Hayashi says the name, Nagomi, means “relaxing”. His intent is for his new restaurant to be comfortable and less formal than its predecessor, the highly acclaimed Kenji, while at the same time delivering traditional Japanese dishes. With 24 years kitchen experience, 18 of them in Japan, Nobuki has all the right skills and offers a high-level kaiseki menu (traditional multi-course dinner) as well as a regular menu featuring popular dishes such as an exemplary saiko-style black cod and the crispest tempura in town. There’s also a traditional bento box that changes monthly.

Shop 5, 242 Hutt St, Adelaide; (08) 8232 0944

Ichitaro Dining

If good things come in small packages then Ichitaro Dining is the example that proves the rule – a tiny space with black walls, woven rope sculptures and a huge chunk 
of weathered driftwood hanging overhead. Every dish in what is one of Adelaide’s few Japanese-owned and -run restaurants reveals the same sense of exquisite detail, all supervised by head chef Satoshi Ômori. While the Wagyu tataki with roasted garlic sauce and truffled mash makes an excellent start, nothing rivals the ultra-fresh kingfish carpaccio or the excellent choice of sashimi. Larger courses include tempura and teriyaki dishes but the most difficult choice is between the roast duck with citrus sauce and yuzu pepper or the saikyo-style miso-glazed black cod. For more small-but-sweet offerings, the saké menu and wine-list are both compact and well chosen.

3/160 King William Road, Hyde Park; (08) 8272 8921

SEE ALSO: Yum Cha in Adelaide Worth Queuing For

Nishiki Café and Izakaya

The newest addition to Adelaide’s Japanese dining scene is chef Yass Tanase’s first solo foray after more than a decade cooking in other local Japanese restaurants. With its long wooden bar and booths, plus a beer garden out the back, Nishiki is very much an Australian-style izakaya: Tanase’s dishes cover a wide range of bar snacks along with more substantial shared platters including niku moriawase, a platter featuring four different types of meat; yakitori moriawase, a selection of chicken skewers; and eihire, crunchy charcoal grilled ray fin. And while Tanase specialises in chargrilled seafood, his Satsuma sweet potato chips with honey mayo are not to be missed.

21 Sturt Street, Adelaide; (08) 7226 6031

Ramen and Izakaya Himeji

Once a bank and then a high-end Italian diner, this spot (right near Adelaide Central Market) now sells the best ramen in town. In addition, executive chef Shozo Ikeda offers an extraordinarily comprehensive menu that brings together various forms of Japanese dining. There’s excellent sushi and sashimi, yakitori and other grills, crumbed and fried kushiage, and dishes such as Waygu beef chargrilled at the table. Lunchtime favourites include classic bento boxes and steamed bun burgers and the highly recommended tonkotsu black ramen. To complete the experience there’s more than 50 different kinds of saké, shochu and umeshu, many of which are considered rare even in Japan.

22-24 Grote Street, Adelaide; (08) 8410 0102

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