Address: 1 Hosking lane, Sydney CBD (near Martin Place)
In comparison to the ubiquitous Korean barbecue restaurant, Japanese barbecue restaurants in Sydney are few and far between. Suminoya is probably one of the most popular Japanese barbecues in the city. I came here for the first time several years ago and since then I’ve kept coming back for the buffet option including wagyu beef and sashimi. This particular night was Michael’s birthday, and he had made a reservation for a large group of us (about 20 people) for dinner on a Saturday night. Five of us arrived at the restaurant and took our seats first while waiting for the others. Beforehand, we had already agreed upon the gourmet buffet option priced at $45.00 per person. Suminoya also offers an a la carte menu, but I think the gourmet buffet is the best option as it offers all you can eat seafood (including scallops, sashimi, sushi, and prawns) and a few other meat options such as beef tongue and wagyu beef loin.
Once we arrived at the restaurant, we found that they were unable to accommodate for one long table with the amount of people we had, so we were scattered in a corner of about 4 or 5 tables. The problem with this was that when dishes of meat were brought, we had no idea which table had ordered, and paired with the waitresses’ basic level of English, confusion ensued. This resulted in everyone just picking up random trays of meat when they were brought out, regardless of whether it was the exact kind of meat that they had ordered.
I was pleasantly surprised that Suminoya also had a range of Japanese alcoholic beverages on offer, such as Calpico Sour, and my favourite oolong hai. Jess had never tried a Calpico Sour before, and ordered this, while I opted for my beloved drink. Oolong hai is made with umeshu, a Japanese fruit liquor, and oolong tea. There aren’t many places that I’ve found in Sydney which serve oolong hais, and I was looking forward to the refreshing, mild taste that I had missed. However, when I got the drink, my taste buds were confronted with a sharp taste, akin to vodka. It clearly stated on Suminoya’s menu that they used umeshu with the oolong hai, but it was so different to the taste that I had been used to, that I was put off it completely.
Because of the aforementioned confusion about who was eating what, there was a little bit of irritation on the side of the waitresses, not to mention we were a rowdy group as well. This impacted the service a little bit, I could tell that the staff seemed to be slightly annoyed serving our group and didn’t attempt to mask this.
Of course we still had an excellent meal. The beef and sashimi were good quality. Suminoya also serves one of my favourite dishes, beef yukke. This dish is a Korean variant of the French steak tartare, with raw, marinated strips of beef topped with a raw egg yolk and garnished with shallots. Jess tried it for the first time that night and proclaimed it as “delicious”. Our favourite cuts of meat were undoubtedly the range of wagyu meats. Aside from being the most delicious, they also provided the most value for our money. We finished the buffet within the hour time limit and were completely satisfied with everything. Still having room for dessert though, everyone was brought small dishes of black sesame and green tea ice cream which really topped off an excellent meal.
Although not having the best service, there aren’t many other all you can eat barbecue restaurants that provide such a high quality of food at low prices.