Sushi Bar Samurai
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
A good, all-round Japanese restaurant with nice selection of Japanese foods including sushi, teriyaki, don bowls and even okonoiyaki.
Address: 226 Sri Jayawardenepura Mawatha, Rajagiriya
Phone: 070 355 1551
Directions: on the main road through Rajagiriya above Breadtalk, opposite Cargills Foodcity.
Covid Care: Bottle of hand sanitiser by the door, all staff that we saw were wearing masks.
We have been coming here for several years and it has been consistently and reliably good. They have a fairly wide selection of sushi and of the classic Japanese dishes including the speciality from Osaka, okonomiyaki, which is something not often found.
Nice and easy to find, this is just above Breadtalk and accessed via stairs or lift to the first floor. There is parking for a few cars in front.
Walking in, there are about ten tables arranged in front, with a bar to the right. We were welcomed and invited to choose a table; there are a couple by the window but we opted to sit at a table for four further back.
The restaurant has recently been refurbished. There used to be a sushi conveyor which has been removed and the tables have been rearranged with maybe a little more seating, but the result is that it now feels like a more casual , lower end restaurant. They have also removed the side-by-side counter by the window which is a shame. There used to be a Japanese themed mural on the far wall but that has gone too.
The bar itself remains, and strangely they still are not doing anything with it. It could be used for casual dining, snacking, sushi and beer combos but we have never seen anybody sitting there, or any effort to encourage bar dining.
The menu is offered on a large card, grouped into the types of sushi such as sushi nigiri, sushi gunkan, sushi temaki and so on. Then there are the other options: otsumami (snacks); yakitori, karage, donburi and more. Each category has a note describing what it is, but the print is tiny and those without young or sharp eyes might struggle to read it. Unfortunately the actual dishes are not described, so unless you know your gyu katsu don from samurai don you might need to ask the waiter, which could make ordering a much longer process!
Fortunately we knew what we wanted and we went ahead and ordered a dashimaki tamago (omelette), California roll sushi, a portion of gyoza dumplings and a yakitori negima (chicken skewer) to start, followed by chicken karage, a chicken teriyaki and a bowl of chicken ramen.
California Roll Dashimaki Tamago Gyoza dumplings
The dishes came out one or two at a time.
The California Roll came on a plate with six pieces. The rice held together nicely when lifted with chopsticks, though did start to crumble when dipped in the bowl of soya sauce. The taste was good, a mix of flavours from the various ingredients but remaining mild.
We've tried the gyoza dumplings once before and, while not bad, they are underwhelming and not as well done as the other starters, tasting somewhat bland in comparison. Even the presentation, on a bare plate, was not as good as the others.
The dashimaki tamago omelette, on the other hand, is always a favourite and Samurai Sushi does it very well. Nicely folded, firm on the outside but still juicy inside and with a sprinkling of spring onion to add a little zest.
clockwise from top left: Chicken karage; chicken teriyaki; chicken ramen bowl; tori nigima.
The hot dishes arrived also a few at a time and there were no complaints about any of them.
The chicken yakitori skewers come as a portion of two, so needed to be shared. The chicken was tender and juicy and the sauce full of flavour - if maybe just a little sweet.
The karage chicken was a generous portion of five or six, good sized pieces and was piping hot. It comes accompanied by a spicy sauce, but we just use the soya sauce instead. Once it had cooked a bit, the coating was crispy and tasty and the chicken inside, again, juicy and full of flavour.
Finally we pitched into a bowl of chicken ramen. This is a large bowl, a good size, and we only just managed to finish it. There is a generous helping of chicken, with vegetables that are still crunchy and with flavour, all swimming in a noodle broth that is wonderfully tasty. It is also garnished with a large piece of crispy seaweed.
We didn't stick around for dessert as we didn't want to eat any more. The desserts on the menu include fruit, ice cream and so on but we have never actually tried any.
Service and Ambience
The service was good, professional and attentive. They brought menus quickly and left us to read without hovering. The waiters kept scanning the room and whenever we wanted to catch their attention, they came over immediately. Attentive, but left us space as well.
The only negative really is that we are not fans of the refurbishment. There is nothing really that stands out in the decor or the feel of the place. Previously there was an unused sushi conveyor belt, and they are well rid of that as it was quite pointless. But there was a nice wall painting of a Japanese scene, which at least identified the place as Japanese. Now the walls are bare, you could be walking into any restaurant or cafe at all. I hope they can at least find a few bits of art to hang on the walls to give it some identity.
A meal here is not cheap, but how many decent Japanese restaurants are ever cheap?
Snacks and simple starters are priced at around Rs500-600 and Miso Soup Rs400-500
Sushis are typically Rs450-600 for two large pieces and Sushi roll platters are from Rs700-900 for a half portion and Rs900-1300 for large.
Yakitori skewers from Rs400-500 for two.
Hot dishes are from Rs800 to 1000 and ramen bowls Rs1200-1400.
An all round, decent Japanese restaurant with a wide selection of food, from Sushi to Okonomayaki, done well and at a price that is reasonable value.