We were driving around seeking dinner inspirations and god answered our prayers with party balloons and a mass of flower bouquets at the entrance of a newly opened restaurant.
Look at the fresh sashimi.
This tiny Japanese restaurant was packed on their first week of opening and despite not having a reservation, the waitstaff were still able to secure a table for us.
The recently opened En Toriciya in Crows Nest.
The restaurant looks modern with a stunning sake feature wall at the back which includes vintage Japanese liquor posters, that work as a great homage to Japanese tradition and culture.
The impressive sake feature wall.
If you enjoy Japanese food, chances are you might have heard of Toriciya Cammeray, Sydney’s first authentic yakitori restaurant which was established back in 1991. Owned and operated by the same people, En Toriciya is a posh version of the popular suburban Toriciya.
En Toriciya has a huge range of hard-to-find Japanese sake and we were excited to go through their extensive drink menu. We eventually chose a sake on the light and smooth side to go with our food.
Japanese Heiankyo sake from Kyoto, $18 per 120ml.
We were intrigued by Suntory 'all-free, non-alcoholic' beer ($9) with zero calories and zero sugar, which we ordered for the non-drinkers in the group. The 'beer' was surprisingly good and you couldn't really tell the difference between this and normal beer... well, almost.
Premium Suntory all-free non-alcohol beer.
Aside from the normal menu, there was a special menu handwritten in Japanese calligraphy strokes. It was hard to choose with such an extensive selection available, so we started with a couple of their specials.
First up was the thinly sliced raw skipperjack tataki carpaccio ($18) topped with diced jalapeno peppers and tangy yuzu soy sauce. The taste was fresh and slightly spicy. I was not too sure if I liked this Mexican-fusion flavour, but clearly the group did as the carpaccio was all gone before I reached for my second tasting.
Skipperjack tataki carpaccio.
Next was the oven-baked truffle savoy cabbage ($16). I had this at Toriciya and it was amazing. Mind you, that was back when truffle cost as much as gold. This entrée dish was still a delight with a nice strong hit of truffle aroma.
Oven baked truffle savoy cabbage.
Another special we got was the steamed pipi in sake ($18). It was an amazing, simple dish. While the pipi were good, the most spectacular part of the dish was the sake soup that really captured the essence of the pipi. Clearly, amazing things can be achieved with a hint of sake.
Delicious pipi steamed in sake.
Moving onto the more substantial dishes of the night.
The assorted sashimi platter ($35) was the first to arrive. The presentation was just exquisite. Some people might be a little put-off seeing a whole fish on the plate, but for us, it was an indication of the freshness of the produce. The chef had prepared this dish well and it was probably some of the freshest sashimi I've had.
An assorted platter of five different kinds of sashimi.
The tuna tataki salad ($18) arrived next. It was a large generous salad filled with seared tuna, mixed salad leaves and steamed vegetables with a garlic ponzu vinaigrette.
The lovely tuna tataki salad.
Like the sashimi platter, the tuna was fresh and plump, thickly sliced and seared to melting perfection, while the raw walnut added crunch and texture. The fried garlic pieces however were a little too overpowering for such a delicate salad.
The delicious seared tuna.
We welcomed the saikyo miso, a marinated black cod ($18) with a ravenous appetite. It is a dish that we order over and over again at any Japanese restaurant because it’s always delicious.
Saikyo miso, a marinated black cod - a must try at En Toriciya.
The serving was not as large as you would expect. However it was a thick fillet where the flesh flaked off easily. It was extremely tender and melted in the mouth. If you visit En Toriciya, this is the one dish you definitely must order.
After all this food you'd think there'd be no room for dessert, but we managed to squeeze it in.
The staff highly recommended the kinako crème brûlée with kuro mitsu ($8). Initially we were not sure about the roasted soybean flour brûlée with black sugar sauce, but one taste quickly changed our minds. The custard was creamy and dreamy with a thin toffee layer on the top, and the black sugar sauce was absolutely amazing - it tasted even better than the usual caramel.
Japanese style crème brûlée in black sugar sauce.
We also got the green tea ice cream ($3) and it was served with Japanese red bean paste. The home-made ice cream really was one of the best in Sydney, and was amazingly priced at only $3.
Authentic Japanese green tea ice-cream.
Our next dessert, we were not really expecting, as it was delivered to us by mistake. This however turned out to be one of the greatest mistakes, as the roasted green tea ice cream ($3) was absolutely fantastic. It was so much better than the regular green tea ice cream, with the rich, smoky tea flavour combining perfectly with the strawberry and red bean paste. All in all this made for a very memorable dessert.
The roasted green tea ice cream - my absolute favourite.
While the food was great, it was the exemplary service and the attitude of the staff that really set apart this dining experience. The wait staff were genuine, obliging and always wore a smile, despite some minor hiccups. As a team, they made us feel very special all night.
En Toriciya, Crows Nest - a wonderful dining experience.
The cost at En Toriciya was a little on the high side, but the food was delicious and the whole dining experience made it all worth while.
Where: 100 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest, 2065.
Cost: Sushi and sashimi from $20. Entrées, mains and plates to share $6 - $25. Dessert $3 - $6.50.
When: Open everyday from 11am - 10pm.
Good for kids: The restaurant is rather sophisticated, so it may not be ideal for children.
Take away: Yes