North Sydney’s Rengaya, one of Australia’s pioneering Japanese-barbeque restaurants, was serving a yakiniku (grilled meat) buffet menu from 1993, right up until it moved into its new modern digs at the end of 2019.
Now, the restaurant’s yakiniku buffet concept is back – but this time at a new eatery, Rengaya Casual Dining in Burwood, which has been set up to serve one thing only: all-you-can-eat Japanese barbeque.
“When we removed the old Rengaya buffet menu, there were plenty of customers still asking us about it, and that’s why we decided to open Rengaya in Burwood,” restaurant manager Yosuke Shimauchi tells Broadsheet.
For $88, you have two hours to order all you want from the iPad menu (but choose wisely: if you have any leftovers, you’ll be charged $10 for every 100 grams of wasted food). Pick from the different Wagyu cuts – ribs, loin, skirt – and cook them to your liking on the coal-fired barbeque fitted into each table, before dipping them into your choice of sauce: an umami-rich soy sauce, a sweet barbeque sauce, or a vinegary soy.
Garlic prawns and scallops, fresh squid, pork ribs, shiitake mushrooms, asparagus and butter corn are on the long list of other dishes you can fire up over the coals.
Apart from barbeque, the buffet menu also offers a generous selection of popular Japanese dishes, including a range of sushi and sashimi, seaweed and egg soup, okonomiyaki on a stick, takoyaki (octopus balls), chicken-wing karaage, and rice and curry. Desserts such as vanilla or matcha soft serve are all included.
To take it up a notch, a special à la carte menu featuring high-quality A5 Wagyu imported from Kagoshima, Japan, can be ordered separately.
Shimauchi insists even though it’s a buffet, the quality of food hasn’t been sacrificed, explaining that each portion of Wagyu is carefully sliced to order. “You need special knife skills, much similar to a sushi chef. We have a Wagyu master in our restaurant.”
To drink, there’s a range of Japanese beers, top-shelf whisky, shochu and umeshu (plum wine), with the latter three also available in tasting flights. If you’re after something sweeter, there are Japanese-inspired lattes and floats, including an iced kurogoma (roasted black sesame) latte and a matcha float.
The dining experience at the Burwood outpost is more casual than its predecessor. The industrial design is softened by light timber beams on the restaurant’s exterior. There are also two tatami-style private rooms, each accommodating up to 12 people.
To bring a quirky and playful element to the restaurant, Rengaya has integrated its other retail concept into the space: capsule-toy vending machines called Gacha Gacha. There are 38 machines to buy from, each with a different theme and mini figurines to match – from ramen bowls and sake sets to Pokémon.
“Originally, it was invented for children, but nowadays even adults have started to collect Gacha Gacha. We plan to always change the variety, so people won’t get bored,” Shimauchi says.
Rengaya Casual Dining
Emerald Square, Level 2, 27–31, Belmore Street, Burwood
Tue to Sun 5.30pm–9pm