Utter the word Teppanyaki, and one may immediately conjure images of sizzling hot plates and chefs expertly displaying their grill skills to an audience of diners. One could also associate the art of Teppanyaki with the tempting aromas of Japanese food, a cuisine which epitomises all that is elegant and fresh.
Contrary to what the restaurant’s name suggests, Kamikaze Teppanyaki serves not only food from the Teppan – the Japanese word for iron plate – but also offers a separate menu of a la carte Japanese dishes, something not all patrons expect upon arriving at the restaurant.
Situated on the upper concourse of Harbourside Shopping Centre and offering sweeping views of Darling Harbour, it’s furnished with dark banquettes to one side, alongside clean wooden décor and counter top seating at the grill stations.
Chef Minh showcases a range of signature dishes while explaining his desire to branch away from a focus on the grill and towards a more Japanese-inspired menu. Such a menu boasts not only sashimi, nigiri and sushi rolls, but specialties which include kingfish carpaccio, tuna tataki and a variety of larger mains. The importance of sharing food is emphasised in the confidence that doing so, as is common in Asian culture, is integral to bringing people closer together.
Everyone’s favourite, miso soup, arrives first in ornate bowls. Strands of fried tofu and wakame swim delicately in the cloudy broth, which is nourishing and warming on this cold, rainy day.
The first spectacle of the meal, a beautifully arranged platter of assorted sashimi hiding in a ‘forest’ of cucumber fronds and radish mounds, is made extra special with the addition of a delightful carrot butterfly and a cucumber-carved ‘bowl’ of rich, glistening salmon roe. It becomes clear that the focus on presentation here is highly regarded; as the saying goes, we eat with our eyes.
Thick slices of tuna, kingfish and salmon are nestled alongside raw scallop sashimi and rolled cuttlefish pieces. The salmon has a fresh, fatty flavour, but it’s the cuttlefish which intrigues us with its wonderful, slightly chewy texture, in contrast with finely julienned strips of cucumber. Also on the platter are house-made wasabi and pickled ginger – take a nibble of ginger in between different types of sashimi to cleanse the palate.
Kingfish Carpaccio Jalapeno
Thin slices of raw kingfish are arranged in a circular pattern on a complementary shell-like platter, each piece topped with a delicate slice of jalapeno, coriander and a smattering of garlic chips. The coriander adds a welcome pop of freshness, while the jalapeno lends a satisfying zing to complement the citrusy Yuzu dressing. It’s refreshing and light.
Blush rounds of seared tuna balance atop a shard of crisp lotus root on a bed of avocado with tomato and a Ponzu dressing. Garlic chips, created by roasting wafer thin garlic slices in the oven, add a lovely flavour and crunch. We’re advised to devour the whole morsel in one mouthful, which delivers the perfect balance of texture and flavours: creamy, soft, crispy and melt-in-the-mouth.
Chef Minh accomplishes a very delicate Japanese variation of the South American raw fish dish by lightly tossing fresh salmon, tuna, kingfish and strands of prawn in a cure of lemon, lime and soy, serving the whole lot in a tall cocktail glass. As opposed to the traditional version, the fish is only slightly cured, with a hint of translucent white remaining on the fish. The subtle flavour of soy reminds us that this is indeed a fusion of East-meets-West.
Prawn and Vegetable Tempura
The prawn and vegetable tempura are light and crisp, arriving with 3 accompaniments: classic tempura sauce, Sichimi, a popular Japanese seasoning comprising of seven different spices; and a green tea salt. Dipped into the Sichimi, the tempura is transformed into a heated explosion of flavours with a strong heat that passes quickly. The salt is intriguing, however the green tea flavour is so subtle that it is somewhat overwhelmed by the salt.
Nigiri & Mini Tuna and Cucumber
A colourful array of eye-catching assorted nigiri arrives, each garnished with its own personalised flourish. A play on some of their other signature dishes, a seared tuna nigiri comes with garlic chips and tiny bits of avocado, while a nigiri of Kingfish sits under a slice of jalapeno and coriander.
Scallop nigiri, topped with oven-dried miso chips, has a sweet, almost creamy texture elevated by the unami factor of the miso, while sweet slivers of pickled red onion go perfectly with fatty grilled salmon. Julienned cucumber provides crunch to perfect little mini tuna rolls.
Garlic Chilli Beef
One of the main dishes on their menu, Garlic Chilli Beef comes as perfectly pink, slices of grilled fillet steak atop a bed of bright green vegetables in a sweet garlic-based sauce which has hints of soy and a slight zing. Although it could’ve been a little hotter (in temperature), the garlic sauce has only a touch of chilli, with the tender, tasty beef pieces perfect for sharing. Wisps of fried onion lend a nice sweetness and slight crunch.
Curled tendrils of crisp sweet potato draw our attention to the thick fillet of salmon sitting underneath. It’s glazed in a sticky, sweet teriyaki sauce and served with the same al dente vegetables as the beef, as well as tender sliced king brown mushrooms.
There is a balance between traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine at Kamikaze Teppanyaki, where a twist is put on the beloved Japanese favourites from their table menu in an effort to lead diners away from the conventional fare which the restaurant is typically known for. Don’t be fooled by the name, as the menu spans far beyond what can be cooked on a hot plate, with the fresh sashimi and nigiri being the favourites of the meal.
With all the new construction going on in the area, particularly with the Convention Centre next door, it’s easy to be deterred from visiting this shopping centre, but rest assured that all the restaurants and shops are still open and operational. Kamikaze is an excellent choice if you’re in the mood for Japanese food, a little bit of hot plate fun and alluring city skyline views.
Harbourside Shopping Centre
Shop 347, Level 2
Sydney NSW 2000
Contributed by Maddie, who dined as a guest on behalf of 2 Hungry Guys