Izakaya style fare at Musashi

by Forager on June 12, 2009

I’m in the mood for Japanese and Musashi in Haymarket is on the cards for dinner. It’s an “izakaya-style” Japanese restaurant – “izakaya” being the name given to tradtional Japanese pub style restaurants and we’ve been before with fond memories of previous dining experiences.

The first time the co-pilot and I went was particularly memorable. We’d gone on the recommendation of a friend and ordered the delicious tempura scallop handrolls. They were fantastic, buttery, and perfectly cooked so they were light and crispy on the outside and tender piping hot within. The couple next to us appeared to be on their first date and were a good source of mirth for us when the male counterpart accidentally but spectacularly spilt miso soup on his date’s lap. She wasn’t pleased and from the lack of conversation thereafter we guessed his chances of a second date might have dripped away like the miso soup she was wiping off her handbag with disdain.

I’ve been to Musashi for lunch a few times since and have had pleasant if unremarkable experiences, so given the co-pilot, his sister Briv and I were in the area we’re back to suss out the dinner fare.

The co-pilot and I both order mocktails from the drinks menu whilst we peruse the dinner menu. I have the “Organic Tomato Garden” which is essentially a twist on a Virgin Mary, described quite tastily as organic cherry tomato, organic orange, tomato juice garnished with celery and the co-pilot has the Musashi Mojito, made with fresh lime, lime juice, ginger ale and mint. Both are $5.50 each. Disappointingly the organice tomato garden was bland and watery – even though it’s not a classic take on the Virgin Mary as a big fan of the drink I found this particularly off-putting. The co-pilot’s mojito was reportedly as fine as a mocktail could be but could’ve been helped with a dose of alcohol.

For dinner we first order the large sashimi platter ($39.80) and the ensuring platter that arrives is large, impressively decorated with a heaped tower of fish and garnished with a skillfully filleted fish skeleton. The sashimi itself is incredibly fresh with a wide selection of different sashimi to tempt our tastebuds.

The beef tataki salad ($9.80) that comes next is quite the opposite experience to the sashimi platter. It’s described as thinly sliced sirloin with ponzu citrus sauce and although it looks appetising, the beef is thickly sliced and is quite tough and chewy. This is surprising given the cut of beef is sirloin, but I guess even within sirloin categories you get different grades and I imagine this might be a low quality cut of sirloin as this tataki doesn’t have the melt in your mouth tenderness that I’ve had in other tatakis. We speculate that if you didn’t know what tataki salad was like but made it from a vague description, this is what you might end up with.

The next dish on the Musashi tasting rollercoaster is the okonomiyaki ($12.80) – a Japanese pancake made with beef, prawn, calamari and mixed vegetable. It’s tasty with a mix of sweet and savoury flavours and the varying soft textures of the flour and meat and the crunch from cabbage make it a tactile pleasure too. But then, anything smothered in large amounts of Japanese mayonnaise will always get my vote. That mayonnaise could make wood chips taste divine.

The last dish we ordered is the spicy karaage chicken ($9.80), temptingly described on the menu as deep fried chicken marinated in sake, ginger, chilli and coriander. Unfortunately for us it was not tasty as I imagined it might be. The sauce tasted like generic Thai sweet chilli sauce and was a tad too salty too.

The overall damage for the three of us was about $90. On reflection, $90 for a largely unsatisfying, hit and miss meal was disappointing. To be fair, this experience was different from our previous ones, so whilst I wouldn’t write them off for good, but the experience was enough to have us reminiscing of our favourite Japanese haunts and I’m sure the next time we’re in the mood for Japanese we’ll return to them tails between our legs and deeply remorseful for having strayed from their reliability.

447 Pitt Street (Cnr Pitt and Campbell St), Haymarket, Sydney; (02) 9280 0377
Open for lunch Mon – Fri: 11:45am – 2:30pm
Open for dinner
Mon – Sat from 5:30pm – 10pm and Sun 5:30pm – 9:30pm
Closed on Saturdays and Sundays for lunch.

Foodie in the know:
The restaurant doesn’t take bookings during peak hours; will take bookings for lunch before 12:15pm and for dinner before 6pm; but to be on the safe side avoid the rush hour traffic to dine at a relaxing pace. On most nights, the kitchen closes for dinner at 10pm and the restaurant closes at 11pm.

Musashi website

View Musashi Dining and Bar in a larger map

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lightning Dave Bolton June 12, 2009 at 1:20 pm

I've only been once, but thought it was rubbish. Expensive, poor service, average food.

Don't understand why it seems to be popular?

2 Forager June 13, 2009 at 9:20 pm

Hey Lightning DB – Hmm, I'd have to agree with you on this one. But you're right. It's always packed – there's always a line outside waiting to get in. Do these ppl order from a different menu?

3 Stephcookie June 13, 2009 at 11:46 pm

I definitely think Musashi is my least favourite of their restaurants, Masuya is so much better and you pay pretty much the same for a meal there. I don't know why it's so busy all the time either!

4 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella June 14, 2009 at 12:11 am

What a shame about here. I've never visited but it always looks so busy. And yes Japanese mayo is a wonderful thing-I go crazy for it.

5 Betty June 14, 2009 at 2:31 am

Ooh, I love the okonomiyaki @ musashi and the green tea creme brulee :) sorry to hear about the 'rollercoaster' experience there…. hopefully they were just having an off night.

6 Trisha June 14, 2009 at 10:12 am

I'm dangerous around Japanese mayo – I'll put a gigantic amount on anything but particularly fried stuff. *evil laugh*
Anypoop twas great to finally meet you too and hope to catch up more on the future foodblogger gatherings!!

7 Forager June 15, 2009 at 10:51 am

Hey Stephcookie – Agree. I think given there are SO many better Japanese restaurants around I don't see a good reason to return voluntarily.

Hey Lorraine – I don't think you're missing out on anything.. And yes – Japanese mayo is so good it should be illegal!

Hey Betty – I did think the okonomiyaki was good – if I'm back I'll remember to have that, the sashimi and the green tea creme brulee then.

Hey Trisha – Japanese mayo is the best isn't it? I used to eat so much, until I read the nutritional panel. The good news is they have "light" versions of Japanese kewpie mayo. T'was lovely to meet you too – I'm sure there are more gatherings in the not too distant future.

8 Arwen from Hoglet K June 15, 2009 at 3:05 pm

It sounds like the sashimi was a winner but not much else. It's beautifully presented! Sounds like kewpie mayonnaise is like cheese – it can make any meal tastier!

9 Zina @ tastedbytwo June 18, 2009 at 6:25 pm

I love the spicy karage chicken here. It's a great little place to go for a casual meal with friends.

10 Simon June 18, 2009 at 11:26 pm

LOL! I totally agree with you on Japanese mayo. It's my absolute favourite! Also, have a soft spot for okonomiyaki ever since the trip to Japan.

I'd heard that Musashi was good but it's a shame it wasn't consistently so.

11 Forager June 21, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Hey Arwen – Absolutely agree with you. The sashimi was definitely good and fresh. Can't complain about that. Perhaps if the rest of the menu was served with a healthy portion of mayo I wouldn't complain about the rest of the menu either.

Hey Zina – I agree that the place was busy and atmosphere was good, but I think personally I'm a fan of the other Masuya group restaurants. Like Makoto (I love Makoto!)

Hey Simon – Who knows, maybe we had the misfortune to pick 2 duds from the menu. As I said, I wouldn't write it off completely as my previous 2 experiences were positive, but personally there are better ones in Sydney to frequent.

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