That’s not a typo in the name of this post – this cosy restaurant is actually called @! (a.k.a At! Restaurant), and its unconventional modern name reflects the interesting twist on traditional Japanese dishes that it serves up. The restaurant itself is on the busy Pacific Highway part of Crows Nest and has a simple and clean decor, with light coloured wood featuring throughout the interior. It’s not a very big space – there’s a sashimi bar area which has bench style seating if you prefer to watch the chef at work, but tonight we are seated at one of the few tables in the restaurant.
I had heard about this restaurant from another blogger Penguin Says Feed Me and had been intrigued by the quirky name, as well as the fact that I had never noticed the restaurant before despite living in the local area. The restaurant lived up to expectations – we started with the Dragon Ash sushi roll which featured cooked salmon and cucumber inside the roll and was topped with seared prawn, lashings of mayonnaise and fried onions. I loved the toppings because I actually prefer to have my sushi with mayo rather than soy sauce, and fried onions as a topping is always a winner in my eyes as it gives a great hit of flavour and crunch.
Dragon Ash Sushi Roll, $16
Next up we tried their Nasu Dengaku, which consisted of half an eggplant smothered in sweet miso sauce. It was fairly tasty due to the sauce and the eggplant had been cooked well so that it was practically falling apart in your mouth. Another good thing is that the mushiness of the eggplant meant that you could scoop it straight out with just a spoon.
Nasu Dengaku, $14
Finally, the star of the meal was served and it was rather sensational to look at – a Wagyu Potato Nest, which deserved its name because of the delicately placed mound of thin deep fried potato chips sitting atop bite sized pieces of wagyu beef. The chips were well seasoned with salt and herbs and made me feel like a kid eating junk food at dinner, except for the fact that it was matched with the decidedly more grown-up taste of wagyu beef. The tender cubes of meat were some of the best wagyu beef I have tasted in Sydney – just the right amount of marbled fat in the meat to keep the flavours buttery but not sickeningly so. I absolutely loved this dish and even though it was fairly pricey at first glance – the quality of the meat actually meant that it translated into good value overall. Also, the dish came with a small side salad of leafy greens and tomato to balance out all the indulgent flavours from the chips and the wagyu and even the presentation of the salad was a bit quirky, with an upside down wine glass keeping the salad intact in the bowl.
Wagyu Potato Nest, $27
@! Restaurant has easily shot to the top of my favourite places to dine locally and I will definitely be back to try more of its modern Japanese dishes which are served with flair.
417 Pacific Highway, Crows Nest, NSW 2065
Phone: (02) 9437 5285