On a freezing Friday night, after wrapping up another crazy-busy week at work, my mates and I crossed the Bridge and headed over to a tiny Japanese restaurant located in the suburb of Willoughby. Mino, which has been around for the while in the suburb of Mosman, has only recently opened up in Willoughby.
From the outside, Mino has a very unassuming presence due to it’s small facade. Once inside I was really surprised at just how small the restaurant was. Despite it’s size, though, the restaurant has a beautiful modern decor which combined with the warm and friendly hospitality of their service staff, make for an overall ambience of warmth and cosiness. Perfect for a cold autumn night.
Once seated we promptly ordered the Sake before perusing the menu. Because we were all starving, we decided to go for the banquet menu, which given the amount of food you get, is an absolutely bargain at just $39!
First on the table was the Edamame and it wasn’t long before everyone was splitting the beans, drinking Sake and chatting away happily. Such a simple yet must-have starter wherever you go.
Gyoza (Pork dumpling)
Shortly afterwards the Gyozas arrived. Hooray! I absolutely love gyozas (or dumplings of any kind really). I have to admit that I was slightly worried when I first set eyes on them because they looked a little dry. Thankfully, I was mistaken because they tasted great!
Sashimi & Salmon Aburi Sushi
When the Sashimi and Sushi platter arrived, I’m pretty sure I heard everyone gasp (or maybe it was just me)! Is there a better sight than freshly sliced seafood, beautifully arranged, ready for you to eat? I think not! Everything I tasted was oh so delicious.
The Salmon Sashimi in particular was so unbelievably silky smooth and downright mouthwatering. I could have eaten twenty more servings of these. In fact, I think this is the best Salmon Sashimi I’ve had to date!
The Salmon Aburi Sushi was also amazing. Where some restaurants over-grill the salmon, Mino grill it to perfection. Which leaves the salmon having just the most beautiful flavour.
The grilled Scallops as well were incredibly fresh with just a touch of smokey goodness. Yum!
Tempura Prawn Roll
There was absolutely nothing wrong with these Tempura Prawn Rolls, but after eating such exceptional sashimi and sushi, it was difficult to get too excited about them.
Nasu den gaku (Eggplant with miso)
I forgot to mention this earlier, but one of our mates isn’t a big fan of seafood – shocking, right!? – so the chef kindly substituted some non-seafood alternatives into our order. The Eggplant with miso was one of these. It’s presentation was striking. Deep black with brilliantly contrasting whites and reds on top. It tasted pretty good too :)
This dish really surprised me in a good way. I’m usually not a fan of beef - and here I was making fun of my mate. Oops! – but this beef and potato croquette tasted delicious. Delightfully crumbed and crunchy on the outside yet soft and yummy on the inside.
Yakitori (Grilled Chicken Stick)
Another dish that surprised me in a positive way. I guess I’ve grown to expect little from chicken skewers (or anything on skewers!). Usually the chicken is overcooked, dry or lacking in terms of taste. On this occasion, though, the chicken was exquisitely succulent, juicy and just plain tasty! Yum!
Zucchini Flower Tempura
After sushi and sashimi, it’s only logical to eat some tempura as well :) These tempura vegetables were great. Cooked fresh they were nice and crunchy and a joy to eat!
After eating deep fried tempura, it’s probably a good idea to balance it out with some fresh and healthy salad!
Ah my beloved Karaage Chicken. Oh how I have missed you! This dish was added to our order because of my mates dislike for seafood (thank you!). Just like most of the dishes, this tasted exceptionally good! There was just something about it that made it so much better than most other Karaage Chicken I’ve tried before.
Chicken Nanban (Deep fried Chicken with tartar sauce)
Although the presentation of this dish left a lot to be desired, in terms of taste, it was brilliant. The chickened was cooked perfectly and the tartar sauce just completed the dish off beautifully.
Tonkatsu (Crumbed Pork)
If you’ve ever eaten at Miso in World Square, Sydney, you’ll know what a good Tonkatsu tastes like. My mates regard it as one of the best in Sydney. And I have to agree, however, I do believe that the Tonkatsu at Mino comes very close. Too close to separate the two really. The pork here was so incredibly succulent and just bursting with flavour. After the Salmon Sashimi, this was the standout dish for me!
Grilled Salmon in alfoil with ginger mayo sauce
This dish brought about a sense of excitement across the table. Who doesn’t like a surprise I guess? :) After munching away on the Lotus root crisp, peeling away the aluminium foil reveals a creamy grilled piece of salmon. It actually looks (and smells) are lot nicer than what it is depicted by the photo. In terms of taste, I thought the salmon was great, but just a tad over seasoned.
Wow. After writing all that I’ve realised just how much we ate that night! Not a bad effort don’t you think?
So after trying so much from their menu, would I visit Mino again? Absolutely! I really wasn’t expecting too much from this little restaurant in Willoughby, however, it really blew me away. Most dishes were of exceptional quality and taste. I highly recommended you give Mino a go!
P.S A big thank you to the Chef (left) for providing us with some amazing food and Hiro (right) for his warm and friendly hospitality. Hope to see you guys again soon!