Saturday, February 13, 2010

Best Japanese in Freeman's Bay

My friend Grant's favourite sort of restaurant is one that no one else goes to. He likes nothing more than sitting in a giant, empty room with his long-suffering wife, free from all the annoyances that come with a crowd – such as ambience, social interaction, and a shared sense of community. Predictably, as soon as he finds a suitably under-patronised restaurant, it closes down – but presumably only after the owner has retrieved the very last piece of expired produce from the back of the about-to-be-repossessed fridge and served it up to Grant as “Tonight's Special”.

For most people though, a little 'buzz' in a restaurant is a good thing. We don't necessarily want to be sitting next to a table of ten drunk bankers, but being ushered to your seats in between two good looking couples having a nice meal and a chat makes you feel like you're at a good party. They laugh, you laugh, suddenly your own life doesn't seem a million miles away from the happy attractive existence portrayed on shows like F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

Nishiki is always busy. My little sister and I could only get a table on Wednesday night at 6pm if we agreed to sit outside and promised to be gone by 7.30pm. And it's in Freeman's Bay! Nestled in a shopping centre which looks like it should have a spotlit journalist from 3 News outside, reporting that 'this was where the child was last seen'.

But even sitting outside with a curfew, Nishiki is very good. I'll discuss my confusion over Japanese food elsewhere, but this was all as it should be – fresh, fast and immaculate. They even do a steak tartare, which will cost you exactly $9 and is to be recommended. It's not as good as the Jervois Steak House tartare, but the very fact that Nishiki does it, does it well, and does it at that price makes the place worthy of praise and respect.

I had some friends who went to Nishiki recently, and they saw a couple of All Blacks eating there. When the All Blacks left, my friends followed them into the shopping centre carpark for an autograph. It's not the sort of carpark where following should be encouraged, and I'm pretty sure Ali Williams was reaching for his panic alarm when he noticed that they were both blonde, attractive, slightly nervous women, at which point he probably just assumed they were reporters for 3 News.