Shiro Izakaya – 22 Mar 2012

Cuisine: Japanese
Location: Perth CBD, Central Park
Disclosure: I did receive an invitation from the owner and received a discount off our bill

Late last month, I had an invitation from one of the owners of Shiro, Rafael, to try out the new restaurant and of course, blog about my experience. Apparently Shiro opened late October last year which goes to show you how observant I’ve been. With the whole Eat Drink Perth 2012 and the various dining offers available, it’s been a busy March eating out. I kindly decided to take Rafael on his offer and thought lunch would be a good start so I asked some family members if they were interested in joining me, which of course they were in full agreement. I did take a walk in Central Park to have more of a sticky beak and what is apparent are the long walls of glass not fully encasing the restaurant allowing plenty of fresh air and sunlight  to enter. The long side of the restaurant has a long bench where patrons overlook the park and makes for people watching while you enjoy your lunch. Apart from Shiro, inside the spacious foyer of Central Park is also another cafe that also opened up.

After walking in to the restaurant we were promptly taken to our table and seated at the comfy booths. The restaurant has a lovely spacious feel due to the high ceilings and even though the restaurant is long and narrow, they manage to pack a number of patrons in while not being squashed. The long bench overlooking the park is to one side, booths line the middle, and then on a slightly elevated level, are a number of smaller tables. There’s also an upstairs area that was just as packed. The interior contains lots of wood giving a warm, cosy and earthy feel.

After looking through our menus, we decided to order the sets which range from $24 for vegetarian, to $27 for the beef or chicken, to the $32 for salmon. The non-vegetarian sets generally come with the following:

  • Garden salad
  • Miso soup
  • The choice of 3 pieces of sashimi or 3 pieces of assorted tempura
  • The choice of 3 pieces of Maki sushi or 3 pieces of Nigiri sushi
  • Donburi with either beef, Teriyaki chicken, or salmon

I must admit, while I have eaten Japanese, I’m not too familiar with the names of the dishes. For example, take the name of the restaurant – Shiro Izakaya. Izakaya is a type of drinking establishment where one goes to after work for a casual affair and they serve food along with the drinks. Sounds like the drinks are the focus with the food a side accompaniment.  Sashimi is considered a delicacy and an entree to lighten the palate before the rest of the meal. It consists of thinly sliced fresh raw fish dipped in soya sauce. One of my friends introduced this to me and it’s actually very tasty despite sounding offputting. Then there are various types of sushi. Maki sushi takes it name from the bamboo mat used to roll the sushi. Nigiri sushi is oblong shaped and hand moulded by the chef. Finally, there’s donburi which literally means bowl. A rice stew is simmered with it’s various ingredients consisting of vegetables and a protein such as beef. It’s served in an oversized bowl, donburi. I’ve provided very simple explainations to give you an idea as to what we ate but doesn’t do justice to Japanese cusine.

On to the actual eating of the meal, I ordered the beef set (set menu B). The garden salad was really fresh and tasty with the delicious Japanese style dressing adding plenty of flavour. The sashimi was fresh and delicious in that excellent dipping sauce. The Nigiri sushi doesn’t look like the typical cyclindrical seaweed encased sushi, rather, they’re like little figurines with the seafood covering the top of the rice to give the appearance you’re eating a miniature fish. I really loved this. Presentation is fantastic, a striking characteristic of Japanese cuisine. The sashimi did come with a small blob of wasabi which cleared my nose out very quickly so I had the tiniest of portions with each bite. I had a piece of a tempura onion ring from one of my family members. The onion was very tender and the rawness removed. The light, golden yellow tempura batter was fantastic! Light and tasty, slightly crunchy but not overly deep fried and just melt in your mouth. I also had a small portion of Maki sushi which was delicious. In between each of the bites of this and that, I sipped on the enjoyable Miso soup and had also ordered aloe vera juice which was delicious.

All that food and I hadn’t yet eaten the donburi which intrigued me. My simple explaination of donburi earlier doesn’t do justice to what I was served. It’s like a bowl of rice that has been cooked in the beef juices, soy sauce and mirin and then encased by thin slices of tender beef and onions. The meal is actually a bit intense, very rich, but the greens atop and the pickled ginger especially, cut through the richness and give a tang. The rice is full of flavour and very enjoyable, as too the beef. Apart from that, I did have a taste of the chicken Teriyaki which was flavoursome and not too intense nor salty, and some of the salmon which was fresh but needed to be dipped in the soya sauce to add flavour. For a set, there’s lots of variety and plenty of generosity. I was struggling to finish my meal but did manage. To end the lunch, I did have a sip of now cold Japanese tea. I’m not a tea drinker but this tea was very light to the palate. I’ve had Chinese tea which I can stomach but have noted the intense flavour. The Japanese tea on the other hand, is the opposite – it goes down easily and is almost non-intrusive.

To finish off, I was intrigued by the desserts so I asked the waitstaff for the dessert menu in which she confidently recited the offerings available with an explanation of a few dishes. Throughout our meal, service by the various waitstaff was excellent. I decided to have a scoop each of green tea ice cream and black sesame ice cream. One of my other family members ordered the banana maki with yuzu sorbet. Since that was brought out first, I had a taste of the crunchy spring roll encasing the soft warmed banana which was delicious. I also had a small taste of the yuzu sorbet which was extremely refreshing and had a slight flavour of lemon. After a while, my dessert was presented. The green tea has a strong aftertaste of the green tea flavour lingering at the back of your palate but is not immediately obvious on first taste. I enjoyed this but preferred the black sesame which has a slight resemblance to chocolate but you still get the sesame flavour. The texture was very different being grainy but I didn’t mind the smoothness of the ice cream along with this graininess and the subtle black sesame flavour.

Boy was I full! Shame I had to go back to work. I met both owners, Rafael and Daniel, and was chatting to them about the restaurant. I’ve certainly not seen the kind of offering Shiro presents in Perth. It’s a different slice of Japanese cuisine. The dinner offerings are very different to that of lunch, geared more towards fine dining maybe in a similar vein to that of The Bonsai Restaurant Cafe and Lounge. Well the place is packed and firing on all cylinders so I guess Shiro has struck the right chord. Best wishes to Daniel and Rafael and my family and I were happy to be guests at their restaurant. Best wishes in their continued success.

Shiro Izakaya Food Review Summary

Verdict: I really enjoyed the ambience the restaurant provides on a lovely warm sunny day. The lunch sets are excellent value and a great way to sample various elements of Japanese cuisine via the variety offered. The serves were generous and once you have a few bites of sashimi, sushi, or tempura, munch on the garden salad, sip your miso soup, and enjoy spoonfuls of the donburi, you will feel very full, probably too full. I enjoyed all the elements offered, in particular the sashimi and tempura, and enjoyed trying something new in the donburri which was yet another way to enjoy rice. The service was excellent throughout our meal and the desserts rounded things off.
Price: Moderately Expensive
Taste: Delicious
Value: Excellent
Recommendation: Highly Recommend

Shiro Izakaya Restaurant Details
Shiro Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Shiro Izakaya - 22 Mar 2012, reviewed by Shaun on 2012-03-22T21:16:20+00:00 rating 4.7 out of 5