It’s easy to get confused by all the various incarnations of the Azuma brand name around the Sydney CBD – there’s the original Azuma restaurant at Chifley Plaza which caters more to the fine dining market, then there’s also the Azuma patisserie which serves delectable Japanese café fare at Regent Place (the modern complex next to George Street cinemas) and last but not least, there’s Azuma Kushiyaki which is a happy medium between those 2 extremes.
It is to this grill specialty restaurant which we go to tonight for a farewell feast for a friend. The restaurant is also located within Regent Place, across from the TonTon Ramen store and next to the Azuma Patisserie. It is quite dimly lit, but in a soft Japanese lantern kind of way and the interior décor contrasts a dark colour palette against wooden furniture. We’re ushered away into a booth tucked into the back of the restaurant which makes it quite hard to get the attention of the waitstaff, but nevertheless we still manage to order up a storm of dishes to sample.
I have been to Azuma Kushiyaki before and loved their Saikyo miso cod fillet, so that was a must order as well as various grilled skewers (kushiyaki) which are obviously the speciality of this restaurant. Our drinks come out first and I like the sweet taste of my Grape Hi – a mix of shochu alcohol, grape syrup and soda. We also tried the Oolong Hi, which is the same except with Oolong tea instead and that was less bitter than expected, though not as strongly flavoured as the grape one.
Oolong Hi, $8
The Saikyo miso cod fillet was just as mouthwatering as I remembered – the strong miso paste flavour had absorbed into the cod fillet and it was grilled to bring out the freshness of the fish. Our only complaint was that the serving was too small for 4 people to feel happily satisfied, especially for the price. That being said, I have had this dish at other Japanese restaurants and they all pale in comparison to the richness of the flavour soaked into the fish at Azuma Kushiyaki, so you do get what you pay for.
Saikyo-yaki grilled silver cod fillets marinated in Saikyo Miso $33
Our next big dish was the wagyu beef with soy garlic sauce. It was lightly grilled and neatly sliced, ready to be dipped into the tasty sauce. While it was appropriately tender, it wasn’t mindblowing in terms of the nuanced flavour that you would expect from wagyu, due to its higher fat content compared to regular beef.
Wagyu beef with soy garlic sauce, $26
Following this was the platter of our chosen grilled skewers (kushiyaki) – wild scallop ($3), ox tongue ($4), duck breast ($4.50) and minced prawn with shiitake mushrooms ($3). Most of the flavours were spot on: the scallop with soy and homemade garlic oil was succulent, while the ox tongue with curry salt was tender and the duck breast with sansho pepper salt tasted lightly smoked. My favourite of the bunch was the prawn mince was stuffed into the juicy shiitake mushroom to provide a nice savoury balance. Apologies for the lack of photo as we demolished the skewers before I remembered to take a snap!
As expected, the skewers are not particularly filling, but function more as flavour hits and if you’re not careful – you can rack up quite a bill if you keep ordering skewers to get full. I thought that it would be nice to have something soupy to pad my stomach so I ordered the karamiso wagyu ($8.80) which was a richly flavoured spicy miso soup with pieces of wagyu beef and steamed vegies thrown in. I thoroughly enjoyed the soup and recommend it for cold nights.
We rounded the meal off with the spatchcock platter which was a selection of different parts of a fried chicken – such as the wings or deep fried karaage chicken which was my favourite because who can pass up hot, oily and juicy battered chicken that tastes like a classier version of KFC?
Spatchcock platter, $22
Our verdict is that Azuma Kushiyaki is conveniently located, has tasty food but can become fairly pricey depending on what you order. It’s a gorgeous restaurant but their dishes do take a while to come out, so we recommend that you don’t come here expecting to finish your meal in a hurry. The dishes are probably best enjoyed slowly anyway!
Ground Floor Regent Place Shopping
501 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 9267 7775