At Toshiya, on busy Military road in Cremorne, traditional Japanese food (washoku) is melded with non-traditional cooking techniques to create a unique fusion cuisine which could rival that of higher-end washoku restaurants in Sydney.
Open since 2010, it is a warm and busy restaurant popular with the locals, even on weeknights. Favourite classics such as sushi, tempura and sashimi are given modern spins by chef and owner Toshiya Kai, whom Toshiya is named after.
While the a la carte menu features lots of traditional dishes, sushi and nigiri, the banquet menu allows you to taste a wide range of Toshiya’s more innovative specialties. There is also a featured menu which offers assorted entrees for 2 at attractive prices. The drinks menu offers a plethora of sake, as well as other alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
The cosy, intimate interior is furnished in dark colours and pops of red, with a homey, welcoming atmosphere.
Umeshu (plum wine) with soda water
Umeshu is Japanese plum wine, a liquor especially popular among women in Japan. Often mixed with soda water, it has a light colour and sweet, slightly sour flavour which comes from the plums.
Edamame come with a sprinkle of Hakata shio (Hakata salt) brings out the sweet, fresh flavour of the beans. They are freshly boiled, which means they come out finger-licking hot and further adds to their addictiveness.
Salmon Carpaccio with truffle oil
Salmon sashimi is given an Italian spin, served carpaccio style dressed in a delicious Japanese dressing, threads of alfalfa, salmon roe and luxurious truffle oil. Each mouthful is simultaneously delicate and flavoursome, an extra dimension added by the truffle oil. It’s so good that we can’t stop going back for more. As Toshiya is a Washoku Lovers partnered restaurant, members of Washoku Lovers are able to get a mini-sized carpaccio by presenting their card.
Toshi’s signature dish, sashimi of salmon and tuna are diced and mixed with slivers of red onion in a taco filling. The shell of the taco is beautifully light and crunchy, and that wonderful deep-fried flavour contrasts well with the soft fish. Although a little messy to eat, this ingenious dish is a perfect example of the delicate balance of tradition and modernity that Toshiya strives for.
Elegantly presented, perfectly grilled scallops are served in their shell, swimming in a pool of glorious garlic butter. The sauce has a subtly umami flavour, balanced well by a slightly acidic kick. Mop up every last drop with the lettuce that the scallops sit on top of.
Soft Shell Crab
This serving of soft shell crab is generous, with each piece being half a crab and comprising of both the body and legs. It is wonderfully meaty, with a light batter on the outside, and a chilli burn which comes from the thin shavings of leek on top. The salty shiso soy sauce on top is just what is needed to add a sweet flavour to the deep fried crab.
Meaty and juicy, the charred bottoms on the gyoza are a good sign when they arrive on the table. This is confirmed upon biting into the silky soft dumplings, revealing a tasty filling which is complemented by the sour dipping sauce.
Seared salmon roll
Seared salmon sit atop inside out avocado rolls with chilli leek and spring onion. Each bite melts in the mouth, with a smoky flavour coming from the fish which is delicious with the creamy avocado, sweet miso sauce and mayonnaise. There is a noticeable chilli kick to the sushi, and each piece is just the right size for a whole mouthful.
Tempura sushi with scallops
This unassuming piece of sushi is an innovative creation: mini avocado rolls are coated in a light batter and fried tempura-style with a creamy scallop mixture on top. It’s wonderfully crisp on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside – the perfect amalgamation of deep-fried crunch and creamy, soft filling. The topping is miniature diced scallop and shallot in a tartare sauce, which is tangy and smooth. Pops of fish roe add extra flavour, as does the shiso soy sauce.
Paripari chicken resembles a baked burrito, which consists of chicken, vegetables and tartare sauce topped with melted cheese and wrapped in a crisp, thin spring-roll pastry. Paripari refers to the style of cooking; we are a bit confused as to what it comprises of at first, but a flip to the menu quickly ignites a sense of wonder as each component of the dish is recognised.
Cutting open the pastry reveals a layer of cheese melted on a tender piece of chicken breast. Underneath this is a mound of wilted salad and tartare sauce. It’s an interesting flavour combination – the sweet chicken, savoury cheese and creamy tartare – although probably not for the less adventurous.
Assorted dessert platter
The perfect way to end the meal, this glorious platter consists of red bean ice cream, black sesame ice cream, chocolate spring rolls and green tea crème brulee.
We love the authentic Asian flavours in these creamy desserts. While the red bean ice cream is quite savoury, the black sesame flavour in comparison is noticeably sweeter and has a lovely roasted taste. Both are delicious and we’d definitely go back for more!
The green tea crème brulee has a strong matcha flavour that goes well with the crisp, toffee crunch of the caramelised brulee topping. This is not too sweet, and has a welcome bitter undertone.
The chocolate spring rolls are filled with chocolate and strawberry, which lends a balance of sweet and sour. The rolls are deliciously crispy and flaky, encasing a richly-coloured, tasty filling.
While most of the food at Toshiya is distinctly Japanese, there are subtle global influences which make the restaurant stand out from other standard washoku restaurants in Sydney.
Ideal for both a casual dinner or to celebrate something a little more special, Toshiya’s fusion Japanese cuisine is an ingenious celebration of tradition and modernity.
283 Military Road,
Cremorne, NSW 2090
Contributed by Maddie Kwong, who dined as a guest on behalf of 2 Hungry Guys