8 | 2.5 | 2 | 1.5
- The best Wagyu in Sydney
- Varied menu, with no real “weak” dishes
- Despite being the best in Sydney, the gap to Wagyu in Japan is still massive
- Waiters’ English leaves something to be desired
- Wagyu Short Rib
- Wagyu Chuck Rib
- Wagyu Oyster Blade
- Salmon and Avocado Salad
TL;DR – Rengaya is the place to go for the best Wagyu in Sydney, and as a result, is the best Japanese Yakiniku (BBQ) in Sydney. The next level up is Japan.
I’m sad to say, the standards at Rengaya have been slipping for a while. My original rating of 15.5/20 (9 | 3 | 2 | 1.5) has been adjusted accordingly
“You know nothing, Jon Snow.” – Ygritte, Game of Thrones
I’m going to be frank and say it – No, you do not know beef.
“Oh, but Eric, I’ve had 9+ Wagyu before”. No. Unfortunately for us, the Wagyu industry in Australia is not as strict as it is in Japan.
When you see meat labelled “Wagyu”, it’s rarely full-blood Wagyu; more often than not Wagyu cattle is cross-bred with other breeds, such as Angus and Holstein, and as a result have significantly lower levels of marbling.
Meat grading is less strict as well, with an Australian 9+ marbling score not necessarily comparable with a Japanese 9+ marbling score. On top of that, Japan uses a multitude of factors to grade their beef, such as Yield Grade (A-C, A being the highest) and Quality Grade which evaluates marbling, colour & brightness, firmness & texture, and colour, luster & quality of fat (1-5, 5 being the highest).
First step in solving any problem is recognising there is one. You do not know beef. But you can.
For those who aren’t fortunate enough to experience a restaurant like Sumibiyakiniku Nakahara in Tokyo, known to be one of the world’s best Yakiniku, there is Rengaya in Sydney. It’s not in the same league as Wagyu in Japan, but at least you’ll be playing the same sport.
Given that I have been to Rengaya over 100 times (yes actually!), rather than writing a traditional review, I have written an in-depth guide on how to get the most out of your experience at Rengaya.
Food (What to order)
- All the sashimi is fresh and decent. Order this if you feel like it but it is pretty standard and there are better places for it.
- BBQ seafoods (prawns, scallops, calamari), while fresh, are incredibly difficult to cook on the stoves. Most likely you will ruin the seafood and it will taste shit. Avoid unless you are Heston Blumenthal.
Salmon and Avocado Salad – $15.90 (8.25/10)
- Salmon and Avocado – Salmon, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes. What more do I need to say? (It also happens to be one of my favourite salads in Sydney)
- Prawn Cocktail – Good, if you like wasabi mayonnaise.
- Seaweed – There are better salads to order.
- Spinach and Almond – Why did you bring a vegetarian to a BBQ place? Get this fucker out of here.
- Mixed Green – DAFUQ is wrong with you? Why are you eating parmesan cheese at a Japanese restaurant?
- Tofu – Inferior in every way to Salmon and Avocado. Unless you like tofu.
- Wagyu Beef Tataki – On paper, it looks good. In mouth, it isn’t.
Wagyu “Yukke” – $13.90 (6/10)
- If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can try this. Beef Sashimi is definitely something you need to try once in your life. If you love it, great, you’ve discovered something you love.
- Yukke (Beef Tartare) is decent, but there is better in Sydney.
When you are seated, ask the waiter what is fresh for the day. They will take out a small piece of paper and read out the fresh cuts of the day. Note you should use what they recommend on the day along with my beef cuts guide below to steer your order.
Marinate all your beef in BBQ sauce apart from ox tongue (salt and pepper).
Wagyu Short Rib – $39.90 (9/10)
- Short Rib – Fattiest. Melt in mouth. My favourite. You need to offset this with leaner meats.
Wagyu Chuck Rib – $39.90 (9/10)
- Chuck Rib – Slightly less fatty than short rib, but equally melt in mouth. Good balance of marbling and meat.
- Oyster Blade – Best overall balance in terms of meat/fat/flavour/price.
Wagyu Outside Skirt – $29.90 (8.75/10)
- Outside Skirt – Most flavour, good amount of fat.
- Flap Meat – very tender, with less fat. Good for those watching their cholesterol (I totally didn’t steal this from the description on their menu).
- Premium Loin – Most like your regular steak.
- Chateaubriand – This shit is disgusting (no fat, but it is tender).
- Tenderloin – Get that shit out of here.
- Beef Loin – Just get the premium loin above you cheap ass.
- Rump – Go to West Ryde Hotel for this shit.
- Rib Finger – Go to Hurricane’s.
- Beef Rib – This is so average that it doesn’t even get a picture on the menu.
- Shabu-Shabu – This shit should be for hot pot, not BBQ. So thin that it’s hard to cook and you just end up losing half your meat (and your shit) on the stove.
Special Ox Tongue – $14.90 (7.25/10)
If you do want to try ox tongue, I prefer Special Ox Tongue as opposed to Wagyu Ox Tongue. It’s thinner, cheaper and Wagyu cows don’t have any extra marbling on their tongues.
EDIT – Unfortunately Rengaya is no longer offering a Blackmore menu.
They also have a separate Blackmore menu. Definitely worth a try. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s better, but just different flavour and texture (more marbled).
Premium Pork Neck – $15.90 (8.5/10)
- If you want pork, get the Premium Pork Neck (with salt and pepper). Some of the most tender pork you will ever have. Having said that, it’s still not as great as the Wagyu beef so I rarely order this. Waste of stomach space
- Don’t get the chicken, lamb or duck.
- You can get the BBQ Ambles (intestine, liver etc) if you swing that way. Personally, I don’t mind the intestine.
- Each meat dish comes with some vegetables.
- You can order more if you want but I recommend you get another salad if you’re feeling guilty about not eating enough vegetables.
Chirashi-Sushi – $19.90 (8.25/10)
- Chirashi-Sushi – Perfect. The vinegared rice and sashimi cuts through the fattiness of the meats.
- Unagi-Mabushi (Eel) – Nice but IMO, too heavy and doesn’t complement the heavy meats you’re having.
- Stone Pot Yukke Bibimbap – Not bad but overpriced for what you get. Smother this in the provided chilli miso sauce (order extra sauce).
Beef Rib Porridge – $15.90 (7/10)
- Beef Rib Porridge – Quite nice if you’re looking for something warm and soupy. Also helps offset all the heavy meat you’re having. Is not anywhere near as chilli as it looks (read not chilli at all).
- Salmon Flake Rice – Nothing special here.
- Zaru Soba – Worst soba I’ve had in my life…
- Other mains I have not tried, but you can try and let me know in the comments.
- Green Tea Creme Brulee is a good way to end your meal.
- Ice Cream is decent enough as well, but don’t expect Gelato Messina or Cow and the Moon.
- Creme de Caramel is just the shit cousin of Creme Brulee. Don’t get it.
All part of a balanced and nutritious diet.
- 1 salad for every 2 – 3 people.
- 1.5 – 2 meat dishes per person.
- 1 large Chirashi Sushi for every 2 – 3 people.
- Share dessert.
There are 3 levels of beef –
- High level – 40 – 50 per dish.
- Mid level – 30.
- Shit level – 20.
Higher price does not equal better quality meat/better tasting meat. It usually reflects the rarity of the cut, more than anything. Exception to the rule is the $20 dishes (aptly named shit level).
The good thing about Rengaya is you can dial up and down your meal based on budget.
- $50/head – Focus your order on less meat dishes and more on mains/salads.
- $60-75/head – Ratio of high level to mid level meats should be 1:2 to 1:4.
- $75+/head – Ratio of high level to mid level meat should be 1:1 to 3:1.
- No budget – Order whatever you want, you don’t even need to read this guide.
Where all the magic happens.
- Don’t overload grill area. Max 4 pieces at a time. Why do you want to rush through your meal anyway?
- Make sure grill is super hot. Smoking hot. If your hands aren’t getting burnt while cooking your food, it’s not hot enough.
- For thin slices – Flip it once, and don’t touch it while it’s cooking.
- For thicker slices – Employ the Constant Flip Method (ie flip every 30 seconds). Contrary to popular belief, it works.
- General guide – The fattier the piece of meat, the more well-done you can cook the meat. If it is fatty, the wagyu marbling will melt the longer you cook and make it soft like butter. For leaner pieces, don’t cook past medium-rare, but I prefer mine rare (you can eat this quality meat when it rare).
- The fattier pieces will spit up fire sometimes. Don’t turn down the heat. Man up. Better yet, film that shit to make your friends jealous of your delicious food
- Don’t be afraid to get a new mesh if your mesh is blackened/dirty. You’re cooking $50 steak here. Don’t ruin it.
Booking & Getting There
Interior of Rengaya.
Photo credit – Rengaya Website
- Book to make sure you get a seat inside (grill outside is not as hot. You are better of blowing on the steak to cook it than using the outside grills).
- They have 2 private rooms, one that seats 8 ($30) and one that seats 6 ($20). They can be opened up into one room.
- Also at the end of the meal, ask for loyalty stamps. They will give you one stamp for every $50 you spend. These expire in a year, so mail these stamp cards to me if you don’t think you will come back often enough to fill a whole card 🙂
- Don’t go buffet. If you want buffet, go to Suminoya in the CBD instead which is cheaper (same restaurant group). You don’t get the same quality with buffet.
And don’t forget the most important thing – enjoy.
So fellow foodies, what’s the best beef you’ve eaten in Sydney?