There are three rules of Fight Club. Actually, scratch that. There are three rules to Kashiwa Yakiniku, a Japanese barbecue place on Falcon Street in Crows Nest (the one with the huge queue outside almost every evening). They are:
- Arrive wearing machine washable clothing
- Keep to your 1.5 hour dining slot
- Bring cash
And I'm sure if locals had a say it would be also to never mention Kashiwa Yakiniku out loud because it can be hard to get a table. Okay Dear Reader, I'm being a bit melodramatic there. I booked an early table a few nights beforehand but keep in mind this was a mid week dinner and we were dining early. We end up sitting a table alongside a group of four other people.
When you literally want everything that the table next to you ordered...
We're catching up with The Wizard for the first time in a few months. We lost him for a while due to a new relationship and while I am happy for him I'm just a bit sad that there are no more hilarious Tinder stories. Like so many friends in new relationships they disappear for a little while to emerge back into the social circle.
We are a little early but we walk in. "Sure would you like to start now?" they ask. They really do take their time limit seriously and we sit down and order straight away. There are some recommendations from the staff and the recommendations on the menu are marked. They set down a charcoal burner, lower the exhaust and I start cooking. Because I think I'd starve if I left it to Mr NQN and The Wizard to cook.
Beef is the specialty here and there are three different marinades: a special soy, salted and miso. We choose the most popular that happen to be from the special soy section (special wagyu beef rib, wagyu beef skirt and LA short rib) as well as an ox tongue in special salted sauce. Along with these are a plate of mushrooms and assorted seafood as well as a few odds and ends that are ready made.
Ox tongue $10.90
The Ox tongue is thinly sliced and with just a little bit of dressing, toasted sesame seeds and spring onion. The centre of the charcoal is the hottest and once the items are cooked, I push them off to the side for everyone to help themselves.
Assorted Mushrooms $12.90
The mushrooms are quite nice but the king mushrooms take a while to cook. I had a bit more success with the shiitake and the enoki mushrooms that are good dipped in the seasoned soy sauce.
Karaage Nankotsu $10.90
I realise that not everyone is going to like this item but it's the white cartilage from the breastbone battered and deep fried. I took a liking to this when I lived in Tokyo and it's a great drinking snack (and really good with mayonnaise and/or Tabasco).
Special wagyu beef rib $13.90, wagyu beef skirt $13.90 and LA short rib $11.90
The three beef choices come on the same plate and I pop them onto the grill. This is for beef enthusiasts. All three varieties of beef are incredibly tender and juicy and the seasoning adds so much flavour. I add in some rice from the bibimbap to have with the meat. It's has an intense caramelisation from the hot grill but aroma from the charcoal too.
I chose this as I thought that it might be a more interesting choice than just plain rice. There's enough mix ins to make it tasty but there are also big parts of plain rice too. It's rice topped with bean sprouts, spinach, radish, carrot and finely minced beef with a raw egg yolk and spicy miso paste. I usually prefer dolsot bibimbap where the hot stone makes the rice crispy but this isn't bad.
Assorted seafood $19.90
The squid is much quicker to cook as are the mussels while the roe on scallops take a bit longer as well as the prawns. They really come to life in the dipping sauce provided and are tender on the inside and caramelised on the outside.
Grilled Sweet Potato with Caramel $4.90
I ordered these as a vegetable side dish. I didn't really go for these as I've had really good versions in Japan and this is floury and cold but sweet. I'm gathering quickly that the beef is the star here and the other grilled items are good and the sides not quite as finessed.
I peruse the menu as the boys seem to be still hungry and ask staff about the pork tube (there is also pork womb but even I wasn't in the mood for that). Even though it is recommended on the menu the waiter shakes his head with a smile and a grimace. "Not so good," he says.
Special Steak $26.90
The steak is one of their best sellers and is the most expensive item on the menu. We are given a pair of scissors and I fry the steak where it erupts in flames. I'm panicking inside but the staff don't seem bothered by the wall of flames so I just pretend like I meant to do it all along. I cut the steak up and it's an absolute beauty. No gristle at all, just 200g or 7 ounces of pure beefy goodness that melts in your mouth.
Special Yukke $9.90
The special yukke is raw beef thinly sliced and seasoned with a raw egg yolk on top. This was perhaps overkill but I overestimated how quickly we would fill up. The beef is very tasty with a good amount of sesame seasoning on it but the luscious grilled steak is a really hard act to follow.
Tofu and seaweed salad $8.90
I thought that we should have some salad but this wasn't particularly inspiring and I think you would be better off getting seaweed salad separately. The salad is very lightly dressed in a wafu style dressing and there's a dollop of mayonnaise to the side. Perhaps this would have been better at the start of the meal.
Pork neck $11.90
The last item we try is the pork neck marinated in miso. It's also luscious and caramelised cooked on the grill with more salty intensity from the miso. The beef still is the favourite of all the grilled meats and I don't think you could wrong with any of the beef choices that we made. The sides perhaps need a bit more work.
It has been an hour into our meal and they politely put our bill on the table. I didn't realise that it had only been an hour so we get up to pay not realising that technically we have 30 more minutes. But there is a queue outside and the desserts aren't particularly tempting (vanilla, green tea and black sesame ice cream) so we hit the road smelling of charcoal and being perfectly happy about it.
So tell me Dear Reader, would you eat the nankotsu? How about the pork tube or pork womb? And since the Wizard has no more Tinder tales for me, do you have any? ;) And would you have any issues with or do you not mind a short dining period of 1.5 hours?
This meal was independently paid for.
7 Falcon St, Crows Nest NSW 2065
Phone: (02) 9906 7393