So I occasionally do extra-curricular things at the Abraham Mott Hall community centre in Miller Point. It’s not too far from The Rocks and easy enough to drive to after work with lots of parking out the front. There’s a choir that meets there, salsa dancing and a variety of workshops.
Around the corner from the Centre is a row of restaurants that seems to have all bases covered. There’s a Chinese place (which is also a pub), a seafood place, an Indian place, and a Japanese place. And across the way is also the oldest pub in Sydney, the Lord Nelson. After a night of activity at the Centre, Y & I are usually famished and head to the nearest place – the Japanese place, Tago-An, and it’s become a fast favourite in fact, possibly my most favourite Japanese place in Sydney.
It’s a big call, I know. But, I don’t make these claims without some thought! In fact, I should point out that apart from special places visited on holidays or trips, I have so far only posted about places after having visited more than once. This is a conscious decision I’ve made for the blog, partly for practical reasons (gives me time to process between posts), but mostly because I feel like a good test of it’s a great place to eat, is if you go back for more right? Plus this way I get to share more images, and oh also test out service. I’m a big fan of establishing consistency. Cos there’s something so disappointing when you go back and it’s terrible for some reason.
So what makes this place so great? Well apart from the fact that on a hungry evening, it’s literally the closest place to the Centre (it’s the first in the row of restaurants from the zebra crossing…), simply put, Tago-An serves delicious authentic Japanese food. It’s also run by actual Japanese people – which might seem like a strange thing to say, but in the cultural melting pot that is Sydney, it’s really not that surprising to find a lot of fusion going on. Fairly often, I will find that what may seem to be a Japanese place, but is actually run by Korean or Chinese people – usually they taste fine, but they’re not necessarily authentic. Everything we’ve tried so far at Tago-An has been delicious – from the huge bowl of warming udon on a cold night served with a full plate of crispy tempura, to the beautifully put together bento boxes and super filling rice bowls, it’s all been so, so good.
The restaurant is also very generous in terms of its servings. On first glance, the prices seem a little on the higher end (approx $24 for mains), though potentially a higher price tag may not be a surprise considering the end of town we’re in. Tago-an is about 10 minutes walk from the luxury hotel, The Langham, and 10 minutes in the opposite direction puts you right on Sydney Harbour just near the bridge, Sydney Theatre, etc. Not that that’s an excuse for high prices, but it’s not surprising for somewhat “prime” locations. That said, the prices are really not that bad because of the generous portions and of course, wonderful flavour.
It’s also so cute. The restaurant size is really quite small, seating around 24 people but in true Japanese style, they make the petite room work and it seems much bigger than it really is. Lovely warm wooden colours dominate, with simple Japanese designed stoneware and cutlery on the tables. Bottles of sake and umeshu line the shelves with the odd touch here and there of Japanese toys and trinkets, and it’s all just really, damn homely and sweet. Which brings me to the service, and that has always been great. Absolutely no complaints – quite often we’re served by the same lovely, smiling lady and we’re promptly seated, orders taken and on our way to a lovely dinner.
We always say that maybe we’ll try one of the other restaurants in the row, but inevitably we end up walking in the familiar (tiny) wooden doors. We can taste the tempura and the sushi even before we walk in. Is that weird? Probably not! So far we’ve tried more familiar things – udon, tempura, sushi, ricebowls, but there are some other a la carte items on the menu that we have yet to try and will have to try on our next visit!
And that’s about it really. Good food? Check. Good value? Check. Good service? Checkcheck. For me, Tago-an is a great all-round experience and a hidden gem in town. It’s a little out of the way, but totally worth the trek 🙂
Tago-An Japanese Dining
25 Kent Street, Millers Point NSW 2000