PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Taking up a prime position on the corner of Anzac Parade and Borrodale Road, Niji Sushi Bar is one of Kensington's best kept secrets. The dynamic team behind Niji include owner Raji Khanal, bar manager Kushal Neupane and head chef Kohji Matsuda, all of whom worked at Toko in Surry Hills. Doubling as a sushi bar and an a la carte restaurant, Niji seamlessly taps into two restaurant markets where diners can either enjoy a quick snack of sashimi and nigiri or settle in and linger over an Izakaya style meal. The design is modern and simple, which allows diners to pay proper attention to the experienced sushi chefs who work their magic from an open kitchen. The star attraction, however, is a 32 metre sushi bar which wraps around the kitchen, while small tables line the periphery of the restaurant space.
On a Friday night, the 120-seat restaurant is packed, with a small queue waiting at the door. Both the food and beverage menus cover all the bases – from fruity cocktails and wine-by-the-glass to soba duck soup and yakitori. The "coco-lico" cocktail is a sweet mix of coconut syrup, pineapple, kaffir lime leaf and Malibu while the "flamingo rose" will woo any martini-lovers. The dynamite roll comes highly recommended, filled with raw tuna and topped with sesame seeds and a chilli Japanese spice as does the duck skin roll which is doused in a sweet plum sauce and filled with creamy avocado. However, it is the 48-hour cooked pork belly, which is then charcoal-grilled on the robata, that steals the show. It only takes one dish to solidify a restaurant's place in the foodie scene and Niji's pork belly does just that. And did I mention, I'm not a huge pork fan?