I didn’t have anything planned for Monsieur Poisson’s birthday because he needed to attend a suit-fitting for a friend's wedding in the early evening. Following this we were stuck for dinner ideas so we headed to nearby Newtown for some inspiration as King Street is littered with a broad spectrum of cuisines. Over the years I have walked past Hikaru numerous times but have never happened to dine there. So with Monsieur Poisson’s love of Japanese food, we wandered in to give it a try.
The entrance to Hikaru is a little hidden as the doorway is not on King Street, although the restaurant itself is. On the wall opposite the entrance is a massive hanging feature bearing the massive kanji character for ‘hikaru’.
After spending quite a bit of time perusing the menu, we start with the gyu tataki. The beef is sliced a little thicker than what we’re used to but the dressing is quite nice. There is way too much white onion accompanying the beef and I am intrigued by the adornment of carrot threads and alfalfa sprouts. We also have the agedashi mix of tofu and eggplant where the tofu is coated in a thin, light batter but the eggplant is a bit on the oily side. And like the agedashi tofu at Ju Ju, this also lacks the usual bonito flakes.
Next, we have a serve of takoyaki that do come decorated with bonito flakes. The deep-fried balls of potato and octopus have a crispy crust enclosing pillowy potato softness within. The deep-fried soft-shell crab is nicely crisp as well and comes interestingly decorated with lots and lots of tobiko. So much so that we’re left trying to rescue rogue bits of tiny tobiko with the comparatively cumbersome chopsticks long after the crab has disappeared from the plate.
For something more substantial than the range of snacks we’ve enjoyed, we also get a ‘Deluxe Bento’ to share. It comes with the usual miso soup and rice, as well as a small serve of edamame which is less common. For us, the highlights of this bento are the seaweed salad, which is flavoursome and plentiful, and the teriyaki chicken, which is sweet and sticky but not overly salty. The tempura selection is not bad apart from the batter being a little too thick, but unfortunately the tuna sashimi is a letdown with it being rather tasteless and possessing a grainy texture. However the biggest disappointment is the sushi rice – such an important element of Japanese cuisine – which has been overly compressed and takes on this dense, chewy, stodgy texture.
I settle the bill and feel guilty that I suggested a place that didn’t meet our expectations, especially seeing as it is Monsieur Poisson’s birthday. So we try to make up for it by going across the road for dessert at ice+slice. This is another place, with a massive ice-cream cone shaped bin outside the doorway, that I have passed by for years but never tried. There is a small amount of seating at the front of the store near the ice-cream counter, but through a short hallway is a large room at the back with plenty of cosy seating.
We settle down at the front of the store and order a cinnamon waffle with vanilla gelato. The waffle is crisp and crusted with sugary bits and has deep divots to catch any melting ice-cream. The vanilla gelato is pleasingly smooth and flecked with vanilla seeds. And the billowy white swirls that are on top of the gelato in the picture above are not soft-serve ice-cream – it is in fact whipped cream of a size which equals the scoop of gelato itself!
I’m not a fan of cream so I politely excuse it to one side before sharing the dessert with Monsieur Poisson. He has a caffe latte to accompany proceedings and we chat about returning in future to try the pizzas.
134 King St, Newtown (entrance at dead end of Bucknell St), Newtown NSW
Tel: (02) 9516 5959
Opening Hours: 7days 11:30am-10:30pm
135 King St, Newtown NSW
Tel: (02) 9516 4595
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-late
Sat & Sun 9am-late (breakfast menu until 4pm)