Monday, January 31, 2011

Restaurant Review - Sato

131 Melbourne Street
North Adelaide SA 5006
(08) 8267 3381

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Well today was supposed to be a night out eating Mexican, however, we ended up at an old haunt instead... Sato Japanese Restaurant on Melbourne Street, in North Adelaide. This is a small restaurant that's been around for a few years now (it was previously known as Shibata a few years ago), and we've been here quite a few times before. As I may have mentioned previously, it's not that easy to find good Japanese restaurants in Adelaide. This has been one of the better ones in the past...

One of the good things about the restaurant is that even though it's small, they have both Western and traditional Japanese sunken tables... the tables are on a raised platform and it's shoes off and tuck your legs down in the cavity provided. L-kun loves sitting at these tables as he can always play underneath (which is like a mini-adventure for him). Unfortunately as this was a "on opportunity" visit, we hadn't booked and could get only the western style table. L-kun was very disappointed.

Drinks are reasonably priced, and a modest selection. T-chan always goes for her favourite "lemon, lime and bitters". Unfortunately they only have a small choice of Japanese beers: Asahi Super Dry, Kirin and Sapporo. Still, the focus isn't on the drinks here.

Now T-chan and I had ordered the sushi and sashimi banquets, with some extra food for L-kun. First off there's some appetisers...

Then that's followed up shortly by some marinaded fish tsukudani, mussels and broccoli. Small, but tasty.

Meanwhile, someone was getting a little impatient. Chopsticks (hashi) make for convenient drumsticks. Not a good look overall, and just a little rude. L-kun stop it! Still, L-kun was for the most part was on his best behaviour. Speaking of children, Sato is pretty good with kids, and we've always felt welcomed there with our son.

The next thing up was a Wafu Sashimi Salad. Overall it was quite nice - however, T-chan found that the Tuna sashimi slices were just a little dodgey (not bad, just not very nice). For myself, I thought it was ok, and overall complemented the meal well. The salad is not included in the banquet.

Now the banquet also includes 2 gyouza and 2 yakitori each. The yakitori (grilled skewered marinated chicken) was a bit of a disappointment. The taste was quite nice, but the pieces of chicken were actually too large for me... no, that doesn't mean that I was full, just that because the meat was thick, it felt more like it was braised rather than grilled. The gyouza were ok, and L-kun loved them (in fact we ordered another serving just for him).

Now the sashimi plate was reasonable (noting that T-chan was not so keen again with the tuna selection).. though I have to say some of the meat slices were on the small side. The thing about sashimi is that it's ALL about the freshness and selection of fish. As the fish is raw, extra care needs to be taken to ensure freshness - and hence anything less than excellent quality detracts fairly quickly. I personally thought presentation could have been improved, but was ok.

The sushi was better in terms of taste, and there was sufficient variety there to keep us happy. Noting that each of these plates are meant for one person, you'll perhaps find that for a big meal you do need to order something else as well.

The one thing that we were wary about (from previous experience) was how promptly the last dish was going to be brought out. In the past, we've found that they can be a little slow in preparing the ice cream. L-kun was also starting to get a little concerned as well, asking where the ice cream was...

The ice cream arrived shortly after (but still too slow for us... after all, there's not much to prepare). Sorry - the photo is after we'd already got stuck into it. The ice cream is part of the banquet meal, however they charge a $1.50 surcharge if you want Green Tea flavoured ice cream instead of vanilla.

The 2 banquets, plus salad, extra gyouza, plus drinks (including, I hate to admit it, three beers) all came to about $110, but we used our entertainment card which saved us an extra $25. We came out from the meal feeling relatively full and satisfied (with reservations).  My overall impression was that it was a nice night out (ok the three beers could have helped that), however for the money, we were expecting better quality and service.

The one other annoying note was that we actually didn't get one dish that we had ordered... though I can't remember if we ended up paying for it or not. Still - it's not a good sign if orders are not fulfilled. Shame we didn't realise until after we had left.

Location : ****
Atmosphere : ****
Staff : **(*) [note - overall ok, but missing orders is a big no-no in my book]
Flavour : ***
Value : ***
Overall : ***

Location : ****(*)
Atmosphere : ****
Staff : **(*)
Flavour : **(*) [note - tuna sashimi a definite negative]
Value : ***
Overall : ***

Now I started out by saying that Sato was one of our usual places out for Japanese in Adelaide... and in hindsight as I write this I wonder if they haven't started slipping. Whilst the friendly atmosphere was still there, the quality in the food had definitely suffered since our last visit. I wonder if we just caught them on a bad night?

So whilst our review might not be that glowingly positive, I'd still recommend trying them out... but I do think restaurants need to always be trying hard to improve their quality and service. Or at the very least maintaining the quality and service. Even though we like this restaurant, we have to be honest with  how our meal went... and this night Sato left a bit to be desired.


  1. I am sorry for your dissatisfaction, but I am also glad that you have real Japanese restaurants in Adelaide. We have no Russian restaurant in Kofu, and Katya must cook everything Russian herself.
    Have good Japanese foods in Japan, especially good sashimi, which can be hardly obtained outside Japan.

  2. Hi Muravej - it's not that bad. The restaurant is still ok (if a little disappointing). There's always different Japanese restaurants starting up in Adelaide - but it's nice when you've got your favourites.

    I understand Katya's sadness about not having any Russian restaurants in Kofu (is it better in Tokyo). To be honest, I can't say I recall ever seeing a "russian" restaurant here either.

    Yeah - always get a good feed of Japanese food... and hence always putting on 2-4kg every time I go back.