Teriyaki Boy was a bit of a win for me, so much so I have already been back. Thus this review is the amalgamation of two visits. It's a nice, low-key local for those, like myself, who live in the Balmain area. What I like about this restaurant is that it walks the fine line between being quirky enough to make it memorable for fans of all things Japanese, and accessible enough for staunch non-believers.
Decor is pretty non-existent, but I did like the odd use of a repeated white pig-trotter shape on salmon pink as the unifying thematic decor element.
Even I scratched my head at the ‘Bite of the Week Asazuke $0’ chalked on the specials until a complimentary amuse-bouche of lightly pickled cucumber arrived. At our second visit, the board said ‘Bite of the Week Salted Edamame $0’ and these were good too, but I wanted more salt. It's probably safe to then assume they weren't salty enough, as it is rare for me to say more salt, except if I (mistakenly) get unsalted butter - then I whine.
Concepts from other cuisines litter their menu. My favourite dish was the curious volcano-shaped Steamed Prawn Dim Sims ($12/ 3 pieces) - light and fluffy inside, and totally unrelated to any ‘dim sim’ I’ve ever met. These actually drew me back so and I ate them again on the next visit (with a slight spoiler, as you'll see below). Note the yellow smear on the side of the plate - it was a much milder (and in fact very pleasant) wasabi type product.
The Salmon Carpaccio ($12) combines thin, fresh slices of er... salmon sashimi with a home-made dressing, fresh greens and zingy cherry tomatoes. It's really good, and again featured on my order on my second visit. This is a good example of fusion cuisine working very well, probably because they are fusing a concept from one cuisine (Italian) and staying true to the flavours of another (Japanese).
On more traditional turf, the Agedashi Nasu ($9.00) or deep fried eggplant was a good version of the standard dish.
Apologies for my out-of-focus photo of the Yaki Gyoza ($9/4 pieces) - they were good, and quite popular with many plates of them going out into the restaurant (under my eagle eye)!
The Pork Kakuni ($13) or simmered pork belly in a sweet sauce is rather lovely. The pork pieces are hiding under these crisp squares, accompanied by some greens and some potato cubes. It went perfectly with the lovely yellow wasabi smear too.
A Sushi and Sashimi Platter ($24) came nicely presented and accompanied by a bowl of miso soup, the only disappointment being slightly bland vegetarian rolls.
Those with a traditional ‘Aussie’ palate should enjoy the tender Wafu ($19) or eye fillet presented with an accessible home-style steak sauce. I tried it and found it to be tender, but on my subsequent visit I tried and preferred the Wagyu Beef Ginger ($18), or thinly sliced beef with a ginger sauce served with a nicely dressed selection of greens.
An odd yet delicious dessert of cigar-shaped Red Bean Spring Rolls ($7) pleased me no end, particularly dipped in the green tea powder decorating the plate. It was in some ways similar to the cheesecake spring rolls I miss so much from the long departed Zenbu. And you'd be right if you guessed I had them again on my return visit.
Luckily my second dining companion had slightly different taste and ordered the Deep Fried Banana with Ice-cream ($8) so I got to try something new too. This was a great dessert, which of course could be made more adult in flavour by upping the quality of the chocolate sauce and making some interesting house-made ice-cream, but as it was, it still appealed in a transport you back to childhood sort of way.
Service is hospitable service, and incredibly fast. I'd guess they probably have one too many waitresses on for the size of the space - bad for their profit margins in these tough times, but it means as a consumer, you rarely wait for anything.
On my second visit we had a minor issue with a part of the blender being located in one of our dim sims. A manager came out promptly, explained what the metal part was ("We were looking for that."), apologised and told us the dish would be deducted from our bill as a matter of course. My dining companion also managed to leave his wallet in the restaurant - by the time we got home they had located it, and called us unprompted (he assumed it was at home) and it was returned intact. You can't ask for much more than that from your local.
481 Darling Street, Balmain
Ph: (02) 9555 6510