Did you know there are 200,000 restaurants in Tokyo? A lot of them are very, very good. Tokyo has the highest concentration of Michelin star restaurants in a single city. But the greatest joy about eating Japanese in Japan is veering off into a little lane and knowing you are guaranteed to find a little hole-in-the-wall place, where the food is hearty, super
delicious and cheap! Yes, despite what people say about Tokyo, it’s cheap.
From$1 coffee cans in those vending machines to $40 3 -course lunches at Luke Mangan’s very sleek Salt (you would be paying $60 for steak alone at his Sydney restaurant Glass) – it is all unbelievable value.
You can only imagine how overjoyed I was to find a proper Japanese hole-in-the-wall within 10 minutes from my office! Yay. That place is Sushi-Nagashima, in the Hunter
Connection foodcourt in Sydney CBD.
This little place is run by the jolly Nagashima-san, who used to cook at Jurin – but left to
start a tachigui (stand-up) sushi bar. The stall, a favourite with Japanese expats, sells traditional Japanese packed lunches – bento. Each box is – can I say lovingly? – packed with a variety of fresh and cooked vegetables, tempura, tofu– that’s just the sides. There is a star dish in each bento – fish, chicken or beef, cooked in a variety of ways. However, the grilled saury bento is the most unexpected yet very traditional Japanese lunch. I don’t have to tell you how healthy it is.
Another suprising option is chirashi – or sushi in a bowl. Basically, it is sashimi served over a bowl of sushi rice – not a dish one would commonly find in a food court. You
can either pick a pre-packed chirashi or design your own from the varied selection including tuna, salmon, kingfish, lobster salad, tobikko (flying fish roe), Japanese omelet and other delicious trimmings. The fish is super fresh. The rice is masterfully seasoned. The cold bento are kept cool, hot bento are freshly prepared – and everything comes with a complimentary cup of a soup.
The udon menu stands out with the inclusion of tsuke-udon , where black sesame sauce and soup fillings are served on the side. It is filling and the rich nutty sauce makes it ever so morish.
My favourite, however is the new neo-pari bento. You must try it! Despite appearing lto be an ordinary chirashi bento, it comes with a packet of small nori sheets, so that the customers can make their own fresh sushi rolls. It is such a fun and tasty meal – I am officially addicted! Whenever the chit-chat in the office turns to who had what for lunch, I feel slightly embarassed. People must think I suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, as I eat at Sushi-Nagashima almost every day:)
Bento, udon and chirashi are priced at around $7.80 – with more exotic options like grilled saury at $8.80.
F12B/7-13 Hunter St Sydney
Also known as Hunter Connection foodcourt, cnr of Hunter and Pitt street. From Pitt St entrance, ascend the escalators – Sushi Nagashima is second on the right.