Shop 6, 55-57 George St
Parramatta, NSW 2150
Believe it or not, almost three years after moving to Sydney, I’m still looking for a go-to Japanese restaurant. Although I have about half a dozen good ramen restaurants under my belt by now, I’m still yet to find a cheap and cheerful place that serves casual Japanese food – the kind of place you go to on a weeknight when you don’t feel up to cooking.
My search today took me out to Parramatta, to a popular sushi restaurant named Kanzo. Based on reviews, I had expected a small and fairly low-key restaurant, but what actually greeted me was a takeaway shop with some rickety stables set up next door, in the vestibule of a run-down shopping mall. Still, if the steady stream of customers were anything to go by, this isn’t necessarily a bad sign. The menu certainly looked legitimate enough, and there’s a good variety of rice and noodle dishes, as well as sushi and snacks.
In our household, Takoyaki ($5.5, 5pcs) will always be ordered when it’s on the menu. Although these were deep-fried rather than cooked in a takoyaki pan, they nevertheless had a pleasingly gooey centre, flavoured with dashi stock and scallions.
I’m not ashamed to admit this – I have a soft spot for the California Roll ($5.5, medium). But too often, it’s just not done quite right. There’s either too much mayonnaise, or they’re stingy with their crab stick. And may the food gods help those who think cream cheese belongs in any kind of sushi at all. This one however is none of those things. All you have here are two generous crab sticks, plenty of avocado, a bit of cucumber for crunch, and a generous topping of tobiko for that salty, briny pop. As far as California rolls go, Kanzo is doing it right.
I usually shy away from sushi that has too much sauce or mayo, but I was seduced by the Grilled Scallop Roll ($13, 6pcs), which promised both scallop and salmon. And this was pretty much what the description promised in the best way possible – a generously stuffed salmon and avocado roll, each piece topped with a large, smoky scallop and generous lashings of sauce. It’s not rocket science, but it’s definitely delicious.
The only thing we ordered that was a bit disappointing was the Pork Katsu Curry ($14). Generous portion aside, there wasn’t a whole lot to recommend it. The gravy lacked depth of flavour, the katsu was unremarkable, and worst of all, there was none of that signature red pickle to liven things up. The sushi is definitely the better way to go.
For its price point, Kanzo is pretty good. I was especially impressed with the sushi, which was notably fresh and generous. I can’t see myself heading out that way too often, as it seems a little bit excessive to travel all that distance for what basically amounts to takeaway, but it would definitely be my first choice if I were in the area.
Rating: 12.5/20 – sushi star
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.