134 King St
Newtown, NSW 2042
And so the search for the local cheap and cheerful Japanese restaurant continues. Kura turned out to be something of a disappointment, so my search led me to Hikaru Japanese Restaurant, located conveniently within walking distance from Sydney Uni for an after-class feed.
Hikaru has been around for a solid 30 years, so it’s definitely a little bit worse for wear. But with that said, I actually quite liked the ambience. Instead of being fully indoors, its located within a semi-enclosed courtyard that extends further into the building. And despite its age, it gave off a well-loved atmosphere, rather than an unkempt one.
Chris has a soft spot for tamago nigiri, and insists on getting it whenever we go to a sushi train. So he was delighted to find that Hikaru serves Tamagoyaki ($4.8, 5pcs) by itself as an entrée. Admittedly, this wasn’t all that great. The egg leant towards being watery and tough, rather than sweet and fluffy like a good version should be.
I on the other hand have a soft spot for the California Roll ($8.8, 6pcs), despite it being about as far from authentic sushi as you can get. Once again, this was on the lacklustre side. I had been hoping for a roll stuffed full of fat pieces of imitation crab (like this one here). Instead, it was shredded and mixed with way too much mayo. But it’s not all bad news; the rest of the roll was filled with an untraditional but inventive combination of avocado, cucumber, and omelette, and there was plenty of fish roe heaped on top. It may not have been the California roll I was dreaming about, but at least it’s a step above the kind I usually get from the food court.
The Small Sushi ($11.8) was significantly more authentic. Although the pieces were all on the smaller side, all the seafood was decently fresh, and the topping-to-rice ratio was done well.
To fill up our bellies, we had a steaming bowl of Buta Udon Red ($13.8). The clear soup had been imbued with a robust smoky spiciness, but was still balanced enough to allow the delicacy of the stock to shine through. The noodles were chewy and slippery like all good udon should be, and was topped off with a remarkably generous portion of pork belly slices. All in all, it was a satisfying bowl of noodles.
The meal had been going well up until this point; although there was nothing remarkable, I had enjoyed all the food we ordered. Then something came up that changed my mind completely. To be precise, it not so much came up as crawled up the wall beside me in the form of a cockroach. And when I told the staff? No reaction, except to look mildly disgusted. So yeah, not going back there again.
Rating: 11/20 – was going to be 12.5 until the cockroach showed up.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.