Japanese fine dining has been getting a lot of attention in Canberra recently but there’s a growing number of casual Japanese restaurants that are still high quality, but accessible for more people on a regular basis.
A welcome addition to Tuggeranong’s food scene is Ureshii Japanese Restaurant which opened in mid-May and has already become a fast favourite among locals.
Owner and chef Suresh Khadka has had a career working in Japanese restaurants in Sydney and Canberra, and when he and wife Bristi Moktan moved to Tuggeranong they knew they wanted to open a restaurant here. They said they saw a gap in the market and knew they could fill it.
Suresh heads to the markets daily to get the freshest whole fish, which is filleted in-house. Any leftovers get cooked up into a staff meal at the end of service where they debrief about the day and talk about how they can improve.
“I don’t compromise on freshness,” Suresh told Region.
“Customers comment that our fish tastes so good and that’s why. I want everything to be fresh.”
I visited for dinner with a friend and their toddler, and we went straight in for some classic favourites. We started with the gyoza (pan fried dumplings) which were chewy, crisp on the bottom and full of flavour.
The service is very friendly and, while the team is still settling into a rhythm, they are doing a great job less than a month after opening. There are high chairs for small children and the staff were very accommodating to the toddler at our table.
We also ordered a kid-friendly selection of egg omelette nigiri and avocado ‘baby’ sushi – which was enjoyed by people of all ages at the table – as well as the seaweed salad nigiri for the adults.
The inclusion of wakame in a nigiri is truly a delight for a seaweed-lover like me: it’s texturally interesting and feels fresh and light. The accompanying servings of pickled ginger and wasabi were generous.
For our main meal we shared the katsu chicken with curry and teriyaki beef. Both meals came with a small pot of miso soup, rice, and salad.
The chicken katsu was presented on a cute little rack to keep the fried chicken perfectly crispy and was also served with a dish of their katsu sauce, made in house.
Chicken katsu is great comfort food, simple but satisfying. I always enjoy the mix of different elements in a Japanese meal like this: swapping between crispy chicken, fresh slaw, and slurping down some rich miso makes every mouthful interesting.
The beef teriyaki was also very tasty. I’m told that the sauce, like most of the menu, is made in-house and Suresh has spent a long time perfecting his recipes.
“The sauces have been tried and perfected over about five years: I’ve been tasting them all since the beginning! Suresh makes different batches of the sauces to develop the recipes and make sure they’re right,” Bristi said.
And the recipes are still changing as they receive customer feedback. Suresh watches the dining room from his open kitchen to see how everyone is responding to his food.
And so far they’re responding well. The couple has really settled into the neighbourhood with several customers returning six or seven times in the month they’ve been open, and others posting the menu in their apartment buildings to encourage their neighbours to visit.
Since moving to Tuggeranong, they feel like they’ve finally come home.
“When they pop in they say hi to us in the kitchen and talk to us,” Suresh said. “It’s a small community in Tuggeranong, so when people like the food they keep coming back.”
Ureshii Japanese Restaurant is located in SouthPoint G U 22/210 Anketell St, Greenway. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30 am to 3 pm for lunch, and again from 5 pm to 9 pm for dinner.