First published on 11 Jul 2008. Updated on 27 Feb 2012.
Best for... ramen
For $50 at Komachi you'll receive a bowl of pork ramen of gargantuan proportions. If you can eat the entire thing (all while the theme from Rocky plays in the background) they'll refund your cash and you get your picture up on the wall of fame - a feat only 15 people have achieved.
Best for... Japophiles
Touch screens! They're the first in Australia to have them, it's as close to being in Tokyo as you're going to get in Sydney and it's very fun. Each screen displays a different category: drinks, grills, sushi, etc. The food's good, there's plenty to choose from and they're open until 2am seven nights a week.
Don't miss the SUSHIan roulette - six pieces of salmon sushi are arranged like the barrel of a gun and one of them is jam-packed with wasabi. From the outside, each of the pieces is lightly painted in the massively hot paste so there's no way of telling which is the eye-waterer. Bam!
There's also a list of birthday cocktails where each non-alcoholic drink is designed around a birth colour - if you can prove it's your birthday that day they'll give you one for free. There's also a bottle-keep system - you can purchase straight spirits and if you don't drink it all, they'll keep the bottle until your next visit. Schweet!
Bill please? At the touch of a button.
Best for... value
Sit at the communal table and watch the resident sushi master at work. The food is unbelieveable, as is the bill - both in a good way. It's tricky to get a seat (no bookings), but you can always wait in the Royal nearby and they'll call you when ready.
Best for... sushi
Yoshii-san is the only man in Sydney to get blue fin tuna on the menu when available (rarely, if ever). He handles fish like a micro surgeon.
Best for... soba
Ju Ge Mu and Shimbashi
Oh, the soba. Hot or cold, it's all good. There's even a page at the back of the menu explaining how to eat it: you're actually supposed to slurp.
Best for... Japanese tapas
If you're sceptical about ‘Japanese tapas' don't worry. While the ‘series of small dishes' rule still applies, its more a DIY degustation rather than the scarier possibility of tempura chorizo or patatas teriyaki. The menu features a series of small, modern dishes with a delicate Japanese touch, starting with lighter offerings and progressing into heartier fare.
The attentive Japaz staff suggest around six dishes between two people as the general rule and the journey commences with witlof leaves stuffed with crab, green apple and lime salad with sour apple jus. A few too many flavours detract from the delicate crab, but it's an interesting combination of textures.
Swordfish with preserved lemon jus sees the fish seared and finished with aniseed liqueur - the only disappointment is there isn't more to go around. Fortunately the scallops with sweet soy and onion butter arrive - the dish is clean, simple and reserved, letting the scallops lead. Eggplant with pinenuts and cured mullet row is testament to the fact vegetable-based dishes can be as creative and substantial as their meaty counterparts. And speaking of meaty, the rich stewy, wagyu topped with almond cream is a mouth-melter of tender proportions.
Try the coarsely grated manchego cheese served with rum ‘n' raisin gelato and topped with nut praline-sounds like fusion-dining-gone-wrong but it works surprisingly well.
It may not be Japanese, tapas or even Japanese tapas but this is one newbie to keep an eye on.
Best... Japanese supermarket
A big mix of both Japanese and Korean produce, they're open late, late, late (22 hours a day, in fact).
Best for... ProgJap
When you think progressive Japanese food, you think New York, London and Tokyo. Woolwich, however, does not spring to mind immediately. The candlelit room is subdued and moody while the open kitchen sees chefs deftly slicing fish and attentive wait-staff make quick with the Asahi. The food has a certain amount of foams and ‘caviar' appearing on a few of the plates but keep the integral delicacy of Japanese cooking.
Pickled cucumber salad is a sassy counterpoint to incredibly marbled Blackmore's wagyu that comes rolled and lightly licked with flame. Mixed mushrooms with seared asparagus is a gouge at $29, but the pigeon heals all wounds with its sweet, gamey flesh served with a single hen's egg yolk. They also have the ‘Oz' - an inside out roll with fried fish, tiny ribbons of ‘chip' and full stops of ‘tomato sauce'. Cute and tasty. Try the mixed nigiri plate - a mix of salmon, tuna, whiting, mackerel, prawn and kingfish.
Best for... business lunches
Tet's favourite: really delicate pieces of fish are offered here, and an interesting selection, too. It's right in the CBD so it's the perfect place to close a deal over some sake and exceptional sushi.
Best for... Japanese experience
A world class dining experience that leaves the rest for dead. A 12-course tasting menu can start with anything from fresh oysters to spanner crab custard with parsely oil then work all the way through to the most tender, rich wagyu beef and slices of stunning raw fish. Unsurpassed ingredients, outstanding service and you can even BYO. Wow!