Having grown up in Sydney with a large group of Asian friends, I was introduced to Asian food at a very early age. I instantly became addicted to the careful balancing of flavours and spicy goodness. Since then, I have always been on the hunt for excellent Asian cuisine be it Korean, Japanese, Chinese or anything else, no discrimination here.
We are spoilt for choice in Sydney with an abundance of all Asian cuisines, but it can be hard to find a good place! When you do you keep going back, doesn't matter how far the drive is, be in Vietnamese in Marrickville or Chinese in Kensington or Thai in Cabramatta.
When I heard about a new Japanese place opening in Roseberry, I couldn't help thinking what an odd location it was and when you arrive, it's on a random corner in the middle of Roseberry, but when you walk inside you are transported to Japan. The friendly and attentive staff look after your every need. You are given warm towelettes to freshen up and clean you hands.
The food they serve is traditional and authentic Japanese. I always think that it is a good sign when you walk past somewhere and it is full of people from that nationality. Especially Japanese. I always start with some Sushi, as expected the fish is fresh and delicately sliced by expert sashimi chefs with impressive knife skills. Every dish that comes out is a piece of art. The first time I went to Sanpo, I couldn't believe the care and beauty that went into every dish. Every plate is a delight and every mouthful is delicious!
Whenever I eat Japanese I always order a Nasu Miso or Miso Eggplant. The sweet sticky eggplant with the lovely umami flavour of the Miso paste, cooked over the Hibachi (Japanese Charcoal BBQ) so it is smokey and soft! The Nasu Miso at Sanpo is one of the best I've had. It is so good that when a group of us go, we each get our own one to start as it is too good to share. Even the skin is caramelised and everything bar the stalk is demolished!
Sanpo changes the selection of Sashimi daily according to what looks best at the fish markets in the morning. They always have the freshest Salmon and Tuna, usually kingfish but on the rare occasion, they have mackerel which is not to be missed. The Kingfish is what I normally go for, the slightly oily and delicate texture with a fresh and clean flavour of the flesh. It really does exemplify what Sashimi should be. Not to mention how good for you, it is.
On to the mains, Sanpo does a style of Japanese Nabemono hotpot dishShabu-Shabu. Traditionally it is made of thinly sliced meat and vegetables boiled in water. Interestingly, the name Shabu-Shabu is onomatopoeic for the sound the meat makes when it hits the boiling liquid. They serve it with two stocks, one pork and one fish, rather than water. It is accompanied by a range of vegetable, mushroom and either Waygu beef or seafood with two dipping sauces. I usually go the beef, only because I start with Sashimi and Sushi. Both are amazing, but be sure to not burn your tongue on your first sip of stock! It's a DIY affair so you put some raw meat and veg into the different stocks and then take it out when it is done to your preference. I like my meat fairly rare, but the meat is such a good quality that it doesn't really matter, it is always tender. They offer top ups of the stocks gratis and you can add noodles or get another serve of meat for an additional charge.
I am a big fan of interactive meals, it is why the tapas and sharing menus have taken off all over the world. People (mostly) enjoy sharing food and engaging with each other. In a world where everything is becoming very efficient and disconnected, I find it very pleasurable to sit down with a group of friends, chat and literally share a meal together. Sanpo successfully does this on every level, the food is incredible, the staff are lovely and attentive and it is very reasonably priced. We normally get away with $30-40 head on food and the drinks aren't overpriced. Definitely will be back!