Sydney's inner west is on our radar again, this time with the opening of Katsumi. The contemporary Japanese-fusion restaurant opened back in November 2017 and has since put the Parramatta River-side suburb of Mortlake on the fine-dining map.
Head chef Yang Wu is no stranger to the cuisine, having acted as sushi chef at Surry Hills' Ume back when it was fancy as. His extensive menu has it all: from sushi and sashimi to yakitori, gyoza, karaage, tempura and hot pots.
The starters are fairly decadent — think salmon carpaccio with black caviar and white miso ($16), or thinly sliced beef tataki with ponzu sauce ($15) and soft shell crab karaage ($19.5). Over at the raw bar, the traditional sushi and sashimi are fresh from Sydney and the chef's selection ($17–32) does present beautifully in a rainbow of colours.
We're keen to try the hot pots, which come in traditional wagyu beef, blue swimmer crab with soy, and pipis with sake varieties ($22–$38). Apart from the obvious Japanese influence, there are plenty of European and Aussie touches on the menu, too, like the panko-crusted fish and chips ($20) and lobster tail mornay ($38). Overall, the menu suffers a bit from 'too much choice syndrome' and could be paired back to let its star dishes shine.
The fit-out, however, follows through with minimalist and modern furnishings. It takes a clean and bright approach with light timber tones, warm lighting from artsy globe chandeliers and cream-coloured screen panels adorning one wall. The 93-seat restaurant offers a mix of seating, from dining room low tables and leather-backed bar seating to the covered balcony — complete with an exotic fish tank — and a screened-off private dining room that fits ten.
For drinks, it's another extensive list, including classic cocktails and a tonne of wines by the bottle. With a focus on Japanese sake — over 15 labels — it's your latest pay-day go-to for sake sipping and hot pot slurping.