There is an abundance of Asian eateries in Kingsford, but Niji Sushi Bar stands out, for all the right reasons.
First of all, it looks good, is located on a corner and fully glazed. Timber battens create privacy and reference the restaurant's name (niji means 'rainbow' in Japanese), moving through a subtle rainbow palette as you look from one end to the other. Designed by Koichi Takada, the interior is equally sophisticated, with dark timber furniture and a welcome lack of fluorescent lights.
It's also big, with tables for couples or groups, and a banquet room that can handle 20. And it cleverly caters to the local student population, with a sushi-train style bar wrapping around the open kitchen, as well as cashed-up diners with the a la carte option offering Japanese Izakaya.
The menu is extensive but the helpful waitress gives us a hand. We start with spicy edamame ($4), notable for the healthy dose of sesame, then we try the oysters ($10). We're glad we take the hint; the Japanese salsa vinaigrette atop is a winner. Other cold dishes include kingfish carpaccio ($11) and maguro Taru Taru ($10.50), the finely diced tuna topped with chilli paste and black caviar roe well balanced by a barley miso dressing.
We order the Sashimi 21 ($29.80), three pieces each of tuna, salmon, kingfish, snapper, scallops, cuttlefish and fish of the day. We decide the tuna is best. The Rainbow Roll is a colourful platter, but while it looks pretty, there are more interesting flavours on offer.
Namely, the Spider ($12), crispy fried soft shell crab, crunchy and tender at the same time, accompanied by a mayonnaise of yuzo – an East Asian citrus fruit somewhere between a lemon and an orange. Tonight's miso-smoked salmon special ($14.90) is a generous serving and the tender flakes melt in the mouth as desired. Speaking of melting, the wagyu beef ($18), with a marble score of 9+ and served with amayaki sauce, is some of the best we've tasted.
Niji is a welcome addition to Kingsford's emerging culinary scene and if you're going to be certain about one thing, let is be this: there are definitely many pots (plates) of gold at the end of this rainbow.