Back in the day, and by ‘the day’ I mean 2011 to 2014, I used to work on Ogilvie Road in Applecross. A scenic office near the river, it was a nice part of the world to work from. One fond memory of this time is Friday lunches because this was the only day of the week when Hayashi Japanese Restaurant, right next door to the office, was open for lunch and that meant one thing – Teriyaki Chicken Don, order up please! It was one of my favourite take away treats in the area. Always delicious and perfect for a desk picnic.
Since the office shifted into the CBD and as someone who lives north of the river I haven’t found myself back in Applecross too often, but when an invitation arrived to head back to Hayashi for dinner I was excited! I was definitely looking forward to revisiting one of old stomping grounds and one of my long ago Friday lunchtime favourites.
Hayashi – Come and enjoy the tranquil surrounds and ‘Experience the Freshness’ of the best quality, authentic Japanese cuisine. Offering an extensive range of Japanese delicacies with friendly service and the sounds of modern Japanese music.
Arriving on a Tuesday evening there was already several happy couples and families in attendance and we keenly stole glances at their food as we were shown to our table. Staff were very friendly and manager Jason outlined the menus for us to kick off what was to be a delicious Japanese feast.
We left the decision making in the capable hands of the kitchen and I was excited about this on two levels. Firstly because it means what you will be eating is shrouded in mystery, which is good fun and secondly you get to try some of the kitchen’s signature dishes. Both of those things set the scene for a great meal.
While all the action commenced behind the scenes in the kitchen we shared some plum wine, pleasingly easy drinking with a fair hit of sweetness, and also a sake cocktail spiked with cherry liquor. Visually quite striking with its vibrant red colouring. They were both nice, but as someone who tends to enjoy dry wines, probably sweeter than my palate is used to these days.
First to appear on the food front were some Japanese restaurant classics – a mountain of edamame and a serve of miso soup. Now I’ve never been particularly enamoured with miso soup and could probably count on one hand the times I’d had it previously, but clearly I hadn’t tried good miso before because the kind they are dishing up at Hayashi is delicious. There was a real depth of flavour with the right balance of salt and it was wonderful. I was officially on board with miso because of this experience, so I was pleased about that. Thanks Hayashi!
We tackled the edamame next and I’m a long-time fan of these moreish green beans and somehow the bowl just never seems to get any emptier! So you reach for another and another and another and pop, pop, pop those pods.
Next to sail onto our table was a ship of sashimi. No exaggeration, this is really what happened. Ok it didn’t sail, it was artfully placed, but as a serving dish the wooden boat was incredibly impressive. The expertly sliced pieces of king fish, salmon and scallop all looked so fresh and very appetising. As we found out while they usually include tuna in their sashimi combination they had been unable to source any that they were happy with the quality of, so had not included it. I liked that approach, quality was key and is so important to a dish like sashimi. I couldn’t recall previously having tried a raw scallop but there was actually quite a sweetness to its flavour. Honestly you could not fault the quality and freshness of that seafood. We dipped it in a little soy sauce and wasabi and clearly the wasabi they were using was high quality too. It packed one hell of a punch! Took our breath away and despite that it became something of a challenge to see who could cope with more. A fun and heated game.
A flurry of dishes were then delivered to our table which was already fairly full with plates and bowls…and a ship! One of the newer dishes on the menu is the grilled squid. It was presented fairly simply but was tender and well seasoned. Nice to have the accompanying lemon wedge to spritz on a little citrus. Now the mackerel I am sure was cooked to mackerel perfection, but as soon as it arrived I knew that mackerel wasn’t my kind of fish. It has a fairly strong fishy smell and fish flavour and on the fish front I prefer those that are mild on the fishy. I gave it a go, but as suspected it wasn’t my favourite.
Some sushi and nigiri followed and both dishes presented beautiful. Starting with the nigiri, it was very artfully arranged. Japanese food presents beautifully. There were two types of nigiri for us to try, one with thin slivers of kingfish and the other with salmon, both decorated with different shades of caviar colours. While the kingfish was lovely, that salmon nigiri was absolutely delicious, potentially my favourite dish of the evening, which was a tough decision, because there were many tasty dishes we were fortunate to try. Like the spider roll sushi with tempura crab, all crispy and lovely and expertly rolled. It was great too, though I’ll admit that by this time the ravenous appetite that I had arrived with had taken a serious dent.
Thankfully there was just enough room for the final savoury dish, the chicken katsu, which to me seems like a Japanese style schnitzel and I love schnitzel so I was a fan of this dish. It had a great crunch to the crumb.
We were then treated to two desserts and first was the tofu cheesecake. I’m not someone who eats tofu often….. or ever if I’m honest, so I wasn’t quite sure what I’d think of this dessert. It was actually really lovely. Not too sweet and didn’t taste too different to regular cheesecake. I liked it. We both did.
The second dessert was a green tea ice cream and green tea is a really strong flavour I find. That first spoonful nearly knocked my socks off, but I found the more I ate of it, I must have acclimatised to that strong flavour and by the end of a scoop I actually hadn’t minded it. Again, definitely not a dessert that swayed on the sweeter side.
We had been thoroughly spoilt with our introduction to a Hayashi dinner experience. There is a real focus on freshness and ensuring each dish is well presented. I wouldn’t say that Japanese cuisine is one that I eat too often, but I do enjoy it and I enjoyed my visit to Hayashi. They have a range of weekly specials on offer and also gave me a few $10 vouchers, so if you fancy heading in for a visit then just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can post you one through (*not to be used in conjunction with any other offers).
My thanks to the Hayashi team for the invitation and chance to expand my Japanese food horizons.