Earlier this year, two lawyers invited me and another vacation clerk to a company-paid lunch. Conveniently located in the bustling city centre, Shiro Izakaya is a Japanese restaurant that I had frequently walked past. I mistook it as a bar because of the dark benches and barstools that look out over Central Park. Needless to say, with its prime real estate and fancy decor, people expect to be wowed.
We ordered an Agedashi Tofu ($11) entree (sorry, I seem to have misplaced the photo). It was an awkward moment trying to split 3 small tofu squares between 4 people. One unfortunate colleague ended up with the random eggplant tempura piece that came with the dish. The texture of the tofu was grainy with none the smooth silkiness that I crave. The flavours of the dish didn’t impress me: it was better than I could cook, but didn’t measure up to the far cheaper tofu from Taka on Barrack Street.
Assorted tempura ($17)
The tempura batter was decent, not too oily or heavy. The eggplant and zucchini pieces were eaten last, as they weren’t popular with our table. I picked a prawn piece that was tasty enough. I felt sorry for the same unfortunate colleague who inadvertently selected an onion piece, which looked on first appearance to be a squid ring.
Salmon sashimi ($24 for 9 pieces)
When the salmon arrived, I held back a surprised comment about the serving size. The salmon was layered in a bundle so from far away, I thought they had brought the 5 piece serve rather than 9 pieces. However, the fish was fresh and well-prepared without any stringiness.
Crunchy Roll ($17 for 8 pieces)
Inside this sushi roll you’ll find prawn tempura, crabmeat and cucumber. Tempura crumbs, spring onions, tobiko (fish roe), mayo and teriyaki sauce garnish the top. The large pieces are difficult to eat gracefully in one bite, but make an unappealing mess when bitten in half. Probably not an ideal selection when you trying to impress potential future work colleagues. I’m never a huge fan of tempura sushi rolls and this one was quite average.
Alaska Roll ($18 for 8 pieces)
The Alaska Roll was the highlight of the meal and I would happily order it again. Inside there’s avocado, crabmeat and cucumber. On top, you’ll spot salmon, red onion, fish roe, spring onions and mayo. I liked the crunchiness and bite of the red onion and I’m always a fan of Japanese mayo. Thankfully, the taste of salmon overpowered the icky crab meat (I’m not such a fan).
I’m rarely one to complain about a free meal, but I was little disappointed by the prices and flavours of the food at Shiro. For what you’re paying, you could probably expect more. Yes, you’ll people-watch the bogans hanging out by the traffic lights while enjoying air-conditioned comfort and attentive service. However, I am not impressed by paying more than is justified for quite average food.
Likes: airconditioning, people-watching, friendly service
Dislikes: overpriced food, disappointing tofu, smallish servings
Value for money: not great
Overall: I always enjoy lawyers paying for fancy work lunches, but I could recommend better Japanese restaurants in the same area
150C St Georges Terrace
(08) 9486 1293
———EDIT——— 27 January 2013
A friend of mine was craving Asian beer, so we stopped by Shiro after-work for a small snack.
Soft Shell Crab ($24)
The tempura soft shell crab was served with fried baby spinach, which is the only way that I want to eat greens from now on! So light and crunchy mmm… There were also fried lotus roots and a few small cubes of watermelon, all swimming about in a sweet balsamic vinegar and wasabi sauce concoction. While some dishes were pretty average, the soft shell crab is really delicious and quite unlike others that I have tried!