Exceeding expectations at Sakana-Ya

Crows Nest is littered with eateries, especially Japanese ones, and you’ll find Sakana-Ya just down the road from Ju-Rin. With its unassuming and slightly dated entrance, it is hard to gauge what style of Japanese food Sakana-Ya serves within and what type of market they’re catering for. But venture through the blue curtains and the sliding glass door, and I can guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


The décor within matches the doorway and is somewhat non-descript with wood panelling halfway up the walls and dark brown café-style furniture. Apart from the paper lantern light fixtures and the odd fishing rod and paper fan affixed to the walls, it could just as easily be an eatery which serves neither Japanese nor seafood but rather a different cuisine altogether. However the aromas upon stepping in are unmistakably Japanese – being those of pickled ginger and sweet sukiyaki sauce.


We are seated and served small complimentary dishes of edamame, each containing several pods. Whilst perusing the menu, we notice how “fishy” the place is – the aforementioned fishing rods on the wall, the fish painted on our sauce dishes and the two little guys printed on the paper placemats hiding underneath the serviette and chopstick setting. There is a serious amount of seafood offer and Monsieur Poisson politely complies by ordering, first up, one of his favourite things: sea urchin.


The uni sashimi is presented attractively in an open abalone shell surrounded by sides of colour, and is the largest we’ve ever seen. Monsieur Poisson attests to their sweet freshness, whilst a particular food blogger may or may not have been seen dangling a piece between her lips to resemble a tongue. (All photographic evidence of which has been destroyed. Ahem.)

This is followed by ‘Tuna Tar-tar’ which we feel required more lubrication. Whilst the ingredients and especially the tuna are fresh, the raw egg yolk when mixed through doesn’t provide quite the amount of creaminess of which we had hoped. Perhaps mayonnaise might have been a welcome addition?


Their tempura and sashimi platter doesn’t disappoint with its fresh, cold and bouncy fish slices and light, crunchy tempura. I do wish we’d been afforded the other half of that soft-shell crab though!


The ox tongue is thinly sliced and well seasoned, and we order a bowl of green tea soba in hot soup simply because there aren’t enough places which serve flavoured soba. The noodles are slippery with a slight bite but don’t top those made in-house at Ju Ge Mu & Shimbashi.


And because we greedily wanted to try too many things, we are already quite full by the time our bara-sushi is brought out to us. Lifting the lid off the lacquerware box reveals masses of shredded egg omelette shielding the seafood and rice underneath, apart from the cooked prawns and strategically placed salmon roe on top. Digging in, we discover a delightfully high topping to rice ratio but can only make our way through half of it and take the remainder home. The rolled egg omelette branded with Sakana-Ya’s name in Japanese is a cute touch, as are the serving plates again emblazoned with fish – one of which is of a fugu.


But there is somehow always room for dessert! The ‘An-mitsu and green tea float set’ proves much better value than ordering the two separately, and we are rewarded with a bowl of green tea and vanilla ice-cream sitting on a base of chewy discs of mochi and springy cubes of agar jelly alongside a generous scoop of azuki paste. All this is washed down with a slightly unattractive, aloe vera-tinged green tea drink which becomes enjoyably creamy when the large scoop of ice-cream bobbing about is allowed to meld into it.


Admittedly Sakana-Ya is on the pricey side, but in exchange you do receive quality, freshness and simplicity which respects the true flavours of the food. The service is polite and it has been around for years, which serves someway of attesting to its enduring standards.

Sakana-Ya
336 Pacific Hwy, Crows Nest NSW
Tel: (02) 9438 1468

*Bookings are highly recommended, especially on weekends.*

Opening Hours:  Mon-Fri  12pm-2:30pm (lunch)
  6pm-10:30pm (dinner)
                        Sun & Sat  6pm-10:30pm (dinner only)

Sakana-Ya on Urbanspoon

happy eating!

18 comments:

  1. A very simple looking restaurant with great looking food. Another great food spot to log in the back of the mind.

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  2. Looks like lovely food - I would've wanted the other half of the soft shell crab too though. I've never had sea urchin...I've heard it has quite a strong flavour.

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  3. Sakanya usually delivers on their food, esp their fishy wings! Good stuff

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  4. Been too long since I've had good Japanese food.

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  5. It's "fishy" because sakana-ya means "Fish Place" in Japanese =)

    Bara-sushi is a great fill-em-up, also heard that their flounder is (when available) a stellar dish. Always brings back fond memories of the small eat-houses in 日本

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  6. Love those puffer fish bowls, so cute!

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  7. That definitely looks like my kind of dessert!

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  8. This used to be my favourite restaurant back in Uni time. got a few frds live in the North.. The seafood shreded egg rice is a must order. I can eat half of that...also remember I alwas fight for that square egg decoration on top hehe.

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  9. Eeee love Sakana-Ya. Used to be obsessed with the bara-sushi so much that we eventually started making it at home so we could save our money LOL

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  10. have not been to sakana-ya for such a long long time! may have to visit soon! great post and thanks for the reminder :)

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  11. Awe, I want to see that photographic evidence :)

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  12. I've never eaten urchin, not even the roe, and intrigued by the flavour. I reckon I need to get out and try it!

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  13. They look like my tongue when I've had too many lime Warheads... this place looks stunning, will have to go along for a try !

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  14. oh my! uni sashimi! u really know how to make me hungry

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  15. I haven't been to Sakana-ya for a long time. They are my old time favourite. Their food never disappoint.

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  16. I still haven't been to this one, looks good though!

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  17. the bara-sushi does have a high topping ratio! ha ha ha- please post the pics of you and your new tongue!

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  18. Hey vintagemacaroon, wonderfully simple so the true flavours really shine.

    Hey MelbaToast, I find sea urchin quite fishy on the nose when it's not quite fresh, but the husband loves it so he eats it regardless! It is creamy and rich though, so only in small doses.

    Hey FFichiban, I shall need to head back for their fishy wings then!

    Hey Fiona, good Japanese food hard to find in Canberra?

    Hey Ninja, haha, thanks - I only knew the fish character and not the other one! =p

    Love how their menu is very seasonal though, so will have to keep an eye out for the flounder.

    Hey Joey, I loved their whole range of crockery, but especially the fugu plate!

    Hey Lil, the dessert set was simple but lovely.

    Hey Wendy, my husband remembers eating here when he was studying but only recalls thinking it was quite expensive! But that square of egg omelette is so cute.

    Hey Stephcookie, haha, it's yum but it's definitely not cheap!

    Hey Gastronomous Anonymous, it's been around for aaages, hasn't it? Still does good food though.

    Hey Sara, haha, the photo the husband took was blurred so it got deleted!

    Hey John, it's time that you try sea urchin then! I really didn't like it at first and found it quite pongy on the nose, but when it's fresh it tastes rather sweet.

    Hey foodie and the chef, they've always looked like little tongues to me, but even more so when they're this large!

    Hey sugarpuffi, seriously the largest I've ever seen!

    Hey Ellie, it's become a firm favourite of ours as well =)

    Hey Maria, highly recommend that you try =)

    Hey Gastronomy Gal, one of the best bara-sushis I've come across.

    Haha, evidence of my new tongue do not exist due to the husband's shaky photography!

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