There may be plenty of fish in the sea when it comes to sushi restaurants in Sydney, but few are as simple, honest and authentic as this stalwart in Potts Point.
Dressed in jet black from head to tail, Busshari channels the dark and moody izakayas of Tokyo's late-night dining scene.
The best seats in the house are those at the sushi counter where you can look eye-to-fish-eye at a cabinet of shimmery fillets, from tiger-striped salmon to snapper, scallops and a crimson strip of tuna, which is snuggled up against its pearly pink underbelly.
The best catch is the scampi nigari ($14), which sees the creamy, translucent flesh elegantly splayed across a bed of just-warm, lightly vinegared rice. There's no need to add wasabi, here, as chef Nobuyuki Ito has done it for you, and he has got the quantity just right — down to the nanogram.
The menu includes sushi rolls, too, with the colourful pinwheels available in all the west's favourite flavours. For the dragon roll ($18), Ito whacks the eel on the robata first and sears it until the fish oils run and the teriyaki turns to caramel. The roll includes a Sydney-sized portion of avo, which balances the rich, oily unagi nicely.
Skewers also get their turn on the robata, and they're cared for as lovingly as a dad cares for his barbie. Bypass the pork belly ($6) (it's a little chewy) for the chicken thigh yakitori ($5), which is so succulent it's hard to believe it's cooked through.
Crunchy little fried things are also an essential part of a Japanese meal. And at Busshari, they're serving a chook-load of karaage, which extends beyond the humble hen ($11) to include soft shell crab ($10), school prawns ($10) and whitebait ($10). Simply add a squirt of lemon and settle in for the night with some beers.
The drinks list is impressively diverse, with an emphasis on fish-friendly bevvies. There's umeshu, a sweet plum wine, as well as shochu, over 20 sakes, and a fine selection of Japanese whiskies, including cult favourites Hakushu and Yamazaki. Beyond the Asahi and Sapporo, Busshari also offers a matcha green tea beer for the health-conscious boozehound, as well as a malty sweet potato ale from Kawagoe.
In the true spirit of Nippon, desserts are small, cute and easy to love. A little pot of pumpkin mousse brûlée ($9) is earth-shatteringly good, the crème filling smooth and savoury with sweetness delivered through its crackable toffee shard lid. There's also a black sesame tart ($9) and green tea panna cotta ($9), which are small, so we suggest ordering both.
Images: Trent van der Jagt