Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Cafe Ish, Surry Hills

I've read many many things about Cafe Ish and this little Surry Hills cafe has been on my wish list for a few months.  Talk of the fusion of Native Australian-Japanese food and the legendary soft-shell crab omelette has certainly piqued my tummy's interest.

When I saw a Spreets voucher on twitter offering a five course dinner for two people for just $59 (plus 90ml of Sake - woot) Cafe Ish moved to the very top of my wish list.  I'm a bargain hunger from WAY back and this deal was just too good to miss.

Cafe Ish is a small, intimate place hidden away on Campbell Street, just a block away from busy Elizabeth Street.  Having only 30 seats in two small dining rooms the tables are arranged in such a way that The Boy and I were totally oblivious to the other diners most of the night.  The service was friendly, attentive and owner and chef Josh even came out of the kitchen to say hello and share some of his lovely Red Rice Wine Sake with us.

It doesn't take long after we were seated for the food to come out. We were as excited as fat kids in a candy store!  Bring it on.

The first two dishes of the evening really set the scene for the fabulous food to come. Our meal started with two entrees: cabbage with wattle seed miso mayonnaise; and a cucumber salad, with chilli, soy and garlic. The cabbage dish was so simple, just raw cabbage that we dunked in the most delectably creamy mayonnaise.  The Boy hoped that a) Josh would either give him the scoop on how to make this mayonnaise at home or b) would sell us a bottle to take home. I quickly nipped both these ideas in the bud. If The Boy wants more of this fabulous mayo, he'd have to come back to Cafe Ish with me asap.

Next was a simple but really tasty bowl of Edamame topped with a generous sprinkle of Murray River Pink Salt.  Edamame are a great, and healthy, food for snacking on - both The Boy and I really enjoyed them.

The Fried Potato and Feta Mochi were just blissful to eat. Served with Davidson Plum Sauce, the Mochi were so fluffy and light, and the feta gave the dish a slightly salty, creamy hit.  These mochi are like hash browns for grown ups, rich and slightly naughty.  The plum sauce was rich, zesty and slightly tart which was a nice counterbalance to the deep fried Mochi.

Next up is a bowl of Miso Soup made with a konmbu and mushroom stock.  The broth was cloudy, just a little bit salty, and peppered with slices of green shallot. Simple, but totally delicious! 

The Boy literally groaned with delight when the Skewer Plate is placed on our table.  

There are an assortment of skewers for us to sample: grass fed “Mirragong” waygu with wasabi and soy; panko crumbed crocodile tail with Japanese curry sauce; and a tofu, shitake mushroom and spring onion skewer with wattle seed teriyaki and lemon wedges.

We both agreed that the wagyu skewer was lovely, with melt in your mouth soft-cubes of tender beef.  That said it was the Crocodile Tail skewer that we're both most excited to try. Never smile at a Crocodile, unless he's skewered, deep fried and severed to you on a wooden board! The crocodile was very juicy and dense in texture and reminded us both of Mahi Mahi fish we'd eaten in Fiji a few years ago. YUM!!!

Now, knowing that we have super-dooper stomach capacity we ordered the next dish off the specials board as I'd heard great things about it from a fellow blogger. The waitress is dubious about our ability to fit even more food in to our tummies and asks us if we're sure we can handle an extra dish on top of what we've already got coming. Oh yes, we're sure! 

The Flash Fried Prawns with Japanese 7 Spice + Aniseed Myrtle Tartarte ($12.50) are as good as we'd hoped.  The lovely Ai, Josh's business partner and girlfriend, tells us these prawns are best eaten whole - heads, shell, tail and all!  Some people find eating the head a bit "challenging", but Ai assures us the little prawn brains just give the dish that extra "something", and she's right. I LOVE this dish. The prawns are super crunchy which makes it easy to eat the whole thing (head and all), and the tartarte is amazing - the taste of aniseed in the tartarte hits your palate right at the end of each mouthful. OMG - YUM!

But wait, there's more! A bowl of “Fuji Hikari” rice arrives on our table as well as a perfect looking Okonomiyaki (pancake).  Our pancake is a mixture of soft pumpkin and spinach topped with nori strips and melted cheese.

And last, but not least the pièce de résistance...Karage Crab Omelette. The omelette is super thin, and within lies three perfectly cook soft-shell crabs, slivers of avocado and chopped shallots. The omelette is topped with a garlic, chilli, soy, ginger dressing that has just the right amount of spice to it - not too much, and not too little.

The Boy is upset as he thinks I get a big slice of the omelette than him. You snooze, you loose I say!

This was our first visit to Cafe Ish, but it won't be the last. We're already plotting and planning our next trip into the city to try more of the food on offer!  We just can't decide if we should go for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Decisions decisions. 

Cafe Ish is at 82 Campbell Street, Surry Hills. 

Cafe Ish on Urbanspoon


  1. hey mel! glad you finally got to try cafe ish. love the soft shell crab omelette, its my ultimate weekend indulgence! and the fried prawns... hmhhm YUM!!!!!

    let me know if you need anyone to go back with... i can never say no to cafe ish!

  2. mmm the flash fried prawns look amazing! hehe i dont have trouble eating the prawn heads just their eyeballs...

  3. Yay, you've finally tried the omelette! And I am seriously impressed by your ability to put away impressive amounts of food =D

  4. That omelotte does sound amazing :)

  5. Oh those prawns look delicious. I have eaten prawn heads before from teppanyaki, but they are usually squashed into a form that doesn't look like a prawn head. I don't know how I would go with the unsquashed version..

  6. I bought this voucher too so it's great to have a preview of what we're going to eat! No matter how many times I have that soft shell crab omelette I can never get enough of it!

  7. So many good reviews about Cafe Ish, I think I'll have to join the queue to visit. Those prawns look incredible.

  8. Red Rice Wine Sake, Red Rice Wine Sake, Red Rice Wine Sake, Red Rice Wine Sake, Wed Wice Wine Sake..... I'm not driving next time......

  9. Your meal makes me want to go back again, especially for the fried potato and feta mochi and the skewer plate :)

    @ The Boy - lol, you sound like my Cheesecake Boy.

  10. you two have an increcdible ability to try so many options on a menu. i love it. i try one thing. i should try smaller but more. i think a visit to ish is due, it's been AGES!

  11. i saw the offer too! now i regret not buying it :/ can u believe ive never been to ish?

  12. the prawns.. yum def. want to try it.. ive seen a few bloggers comemnt on this.. wonder if they have the all u can eat ribs yet?

  13. I don't know why I have the feeling this place's name is not quite right. I can't see anything wrong with the food, though.

  14. ohh i love a good coupon, and a delicious crab omlette too!

  15. "Never smile at a Crocodile, unless he's skewered, deep fried and severed to you on a wooden board! " - love it!

  16. The prawns look awesome, and lol, I agree, you snooze you lose when it comes to food!

  17. Glad you got to Cafe Ish, food is just wonderful. The crab omelette really is wonderful.


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