Midori Sushi and Rolls is on the lower ground floor of the Village Plaza at the Shepherds Bay complex which primarily services residents in the high-density apartments built on former industrial land overlooking the Parramatta River. I come here because it has one of the closest Aldi stores near to me. I will now come here more regularly to eat because of Midori’s Bento boxes and ramen.
The eatery has a large front glass counter with a refrigerated section displaying an array of freshly-made sushi rolls which are made on the premises and to order if desired. To one side, staff busily make the sushi rolls which seem to walk out of the door as shoppers line to take them home, while in a small kitchen another staff member is busily preparing the cooked dishes available.
As almost always when I have walked past, there are some “in the know” Japanese sitting at the small tables tucked way in a L-shaped area (there is room for about 18 people), eating ramen, udon or having a bento box. Seeing a regular Japanese clientèle on my shopping visits was what got me to try Midori.
On my first visit to Midori I opted for the miso ramen with teriyaki chicken ($9.50). It took about 10 minutes to arrive and when it did I was delightfully surprised by its character. The soup was served in a brown plastic “ceramic-look” bowl with wooden ladle – both sitting on a weaved straw-look mat on a square ‘lacquered’ tray. The ramen was topped with two slices of kamaboko (the fish cake with a pink swirl); a spoonful of corn kernels; a clump of tall white enokitaki (mushrooms); bean sprouts; what seemed to be mizuna (which is like a mustard green); two sheets of nori paper on the side; and slices of beautifully marinated and grilled teriyaki chicken. The ramen was creative and unusual – each topping wonderfully playing in the mouth in terms of textures and flavours. The mizuna added a peppery crunchy spicness; the enotaki some lovely earthy and fresh flavours, the corn added the sweetness, the kamaboko and nori the saltiness; and the succulent marinated chicken offered a haromious combination of toffee and grilled-smoke flavours. The miso broth, with its pleasant savoury nuttiness, acted like a chemical precursor to all those individual flavours and textures that swarmed on top of the al-dente ramen noodles.
On my second visit I had one of Midori’s Bento boxes (after seeing a few customers having one last time). The chilli pork bento box ($12.50) was a black plastic and partitioned box with a serving of grilled chilli-sauce marinated pork on rice; two pieces of sushi roll; a small leaf and tomato salad and two pieces of nigiri sushi sitting next to some rolled salmon sashimi. It came with miso soup (that good-quality instant variety). The strips of pork loin had been marinated (and basted) more than likely in tobanjan (a Japanese chilli paste) and grilled. The pork was tender and juicy with a lovely semi-sweet spicy and smoky flavour. The California-roll=style cooked tuna and avocado rolls as well as the fresh salmon nigri sushi were well made (the salmon melting in the mouth). The salad was the perfect palate cleanser. The whole deal was enough for a satisfying, but not too heavy, lunch.
Midori’s udon soup with tempura vegetables ($9.50) was ordered on my third and most recent visit. A round and halved tempura fritter (with diced and shredded vegetables such as onions, carrot and spring onions and potatoes), sat to one side of the bowl of soup. The soup was similar to the contents of the ramen that I had on my first visit. Inside the bowl of dashi stock was thick and perfectly cooked udon noodles topped with two slices of kamaboko; white enokitaki; mizuna and shredded nori. The broth was quite fishy, yet pleasant. It was ideal that the tempura vegetable cake was to the side as it allowed me to dip it into the broth and eat while still crunchy (with other tempura udon soups the tempura is already in the soup which causes the morsel to go soggy. Although the tempura was enjoyable it did not have that wonderful light and delicate tempura batter that I was expecting.
Midori also has a range of other ramen and udon noodle soups as well as a choice of different bento boxes (such as teriyaki chicken), and those popular freshly-made sushi rolls. Japanese green tea is also available by the teapot. PS: the bento boxes can be ordered as a take-away.
The verdict: Midori dishes out quality food that would be expected in larger, more established (and expensive) Japanese eateries. It is well priced, seems popular with the locals and serves something a little bit different than the usual mundane and predictable food available at shopping centre “sushi bars” with higher turnover and visibility. Excellent value and a wonderful discovery.
What: Midori Sushi and Rolls, lower ground floor at the Village Plaza at Shepherds Bay, Bay Road, Meadowbank NSW 2114. You can find it to your left from the travelators as you head towards Aldi. It seems to be open from around 10am, 7 days.
Ate there: 28 August and 11 and 25 September 2010.