Friday, 19 July 2013

An Expensive Train Ride at Zensaki Sushi & Izakaya

Everybody in sight seemed to be getting hot and steamy...

Zensaki Sushi & Izakaya on Urbanspoon

If I am not mistaken (but I probably am), the previous restaurant that once existed on the ground that Zensaki now stands was a Japanese restaurant called Mr. Samurai.
Mr. Samurai was a popular eating place, for during peak eating hours it was always bursting at the seams. If Mr. Samurai was a person, he would be jolly, good, and much adored by everybody.

Unfortunately one day, Mr. Samurai was no more. Along with him was also the demise of $5 lunch time curries, $1 salads and $1 miso soups. Needless to say, I was an absolute wreck.

Fortunately, the death of one Japanese restaurant meant the rebirth of another - the handsome Zensaki. Although not always this handsome to begin with, Zensaki semi-recently underwent a major makeover and even I was lured in with its now striking good looks.
Zensaki; not too many similarities to its precedent Japanese restaurant, besides the need to queue for a table!
Oh hello, Mr Fantastic. You're certainly not too fantastic on these Winter nights!
Upon joining the small forest of people waiting for a seat, I noticed this slushee dispenser that churns and spews out all your slushee desires. I'd say it's a very clever, strategically placed temptation to have it located up the front amongst tired, hungry, thirsty people impatiently waiting for some food and drink!
The new and improved upgrade of Zensaki
The interior of Zensaki boasts a really sleek, contemporary design that is vastly different from its previous format of bench seating and tables in the middle. They have chucked in a sushi train, adjacent to some booth-like seating arrangements and some live sushi entertainment courtesy of the sushi chefs.

The hanging light fixtures are mesmerising and really beautiful as centrepieces. The only downside to the restaurant layout is the squishy waiting area at the front, which results in non-stop awkward shuffling, excuse-me's, sorry's and urmph's as people try to get past each other.
Lack of spaciousness - always a good sign to the business :)
Scallop Roll - $6.20
Grilled Scallop, Crab Salad, Avocado, Cucumber, Fish Roe & Kabayaki Sauce
Many of the sushi plates that roll down the sushi train are eye catching, lots of them involving interesting combinations of ingredients which I later discover are mostly Zensaki's "fusion sushi" choices, making up a big part of their menu.

Some of the more intriguing names are the "Pumpkin Crown" and "Banana Rock", which feature soft shell crab, cheese, egg wrap, pumpkin topping and yoghurt sauce; and grilled banana, lettuce, cucumber, almond flakes and yoghurt chocolate sauce respectively.

I'm trying to imagine it but I can't get my head around a sweet dessert sushi. Very fusion indeed.
Scallop Roll; the scallop angle
This inside-out scallop sushi, was really a one-mouth wonder as I tried to stuff the entire contents of the sushi in one go. The crab salad was as good as crab salad can ever get but of course, the butterflied scallops were perfectly plump and juicy and go really well with the caramelised sweet soy sauce.

$6.20 can be quite steep for 2 pieces of sushi, so the more budget friendly options range from a blue-plated $3 all the way to a white-plated $7.50 rainbow spectrum. If none of the choices are your cup of tea, or, um, your plate of sushi, you can also resort to asking the chefs to customise your own sushi with your own original inspiration.
Chashu King - $15
Tender sliced pork, soft yolk boiled egg, fish cake, seaweed, beansprouts & spring onion
Looking around us, everybody in sight seemed to be getting hot and steamy with a big, hearty, warming bowl of ramen. Just like a perfect companion to cosy up to on a chilly Winter night, ramen was evidently a number one, unanimous choice for just about every customer in Zensaki.

The ramen broth at Zensaki is of the essence, requiring at least a 24 hour preparation time frame to ensure they are packed full of flavour. Andy's choice of broth with his chashu ramen is prepared with a miso base - a distinct salty flavour from the use of fermented soybean paste, and is served with thinly cut ribbons of fat-embroidered pork.
Original Ramen - $9.50
Tender sliced pork, fish cake, seaweed, bean sprouts, spring onion
(It has just come to my realisation that my Original Ramen contains the exact same ingredients as the Chashu Ramen aside from the what appears to be a $5.50 half soft boiled egg!)
Aside from miso, other broth choices include a shoyu (soy sauce), shio (garlic salt) and tonkotsu (pork bone) base. I love the idea of an aromatic, slightly fatty idea of a pork bone stock, and I know I made the right choice when Andy takes a spoon of my soup and declares mine is the better one.

What do you know; never argue with a woman for she will always be right.
A busy Zensaki scene that stays this way for the whole night
As I am preoccupied with scooping out every remaining strand of ramen from my bowl and savouring all the soup there is, I am wary that our seats are still precious resources for those still waiting in line for their Zensaki fix.

As sushi train plate prices seem a bit dear, we forgo the tempting thought of another $6.20 sushi plate, which is barely enough to pay for 2 hours of parking in the city.
Perth is probably one of the few cities where you will pay more money for your car to rest than you would for an entire meal.
Zensaki Sushi & Izakaya
I've only tried the tip of the Zensaki iceberg for now, and I look forward to sampling dishes from their Izakaya section of the menu, which has a whole load of enticing dishes.  They also offer nabemono, a kind of Japanese hot pot and perfect for the chilly flu season.
(It's a communal dish, so just don't invite the ones who actually have the flu) :P


Monday - Saturday: 11am to 8pm
Friday: 11am to 9pm
Sunday: 11am to 5pm

(08) 9221 7577
83 Barrack Street, Perth WA 6000


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