Overshadowed by the cool Brisbane Street architecture sits a dated two-storey building that’s housed this restaurant for more than a decade.
Inside, old world charm also wins over renovation. Hip urban regulars dine amongst credible neo-impressionist art with French acid jazz remixes of Nina Simone wafting between lights masked by gossamer fabric.
From strangely compelling Garlic Miso Camembert ($12) on crispy lotus root...
...to heavenly Grilled Eggplant ($16.50) with miso and Parmesan...
...set off by a side of Chilled Wasabi Mash ($5), the sharing plates are modern and tasty.
Accompany them with a Sweet Devil ($14) cocktail – it’s a more savoury/adult take on a lychee martini made on sake. If (like me) you’ve recently found your feet in the sake-sphere ("Junmai/low number" I chant softly to myself) the idea of flavoured sake might sound sacrilegious. So first sample the softly fruity Hakushika (White Deer) Junmai Namachozo +2 ($15/180ml).
It’s perfect with beautiful Kingfish Sashimi ($21) set off by shallots, tart pickled plums (umeboshi) and tamari - a clever combination that belies the need for soy and wasabi.
It also suits the pleasurable signature Uchi Roll ($12.50) of prawn, salmon, avocado and coriander, dotted with chilli mayonnaise.
Then eat humble pie with a trio of Flavoured Sake Testers ($12)… from volatile Pink Pepper to soothing Green Tea and Coconut, they’re crisp, clean and amazing, and presented beautifully with a paper crane as well!
The Green Tea Crème Brûlée ($12.50) isn’t bad either.
It beats a big bowl of Azuki, Strawberry and Rhubarb Ice Cream ($9.50) hands down, except for the wafer - the texture of that is amazing.
Oh and if you're wondering about the shuddering bangs you hear from time to time, it's the dumbwaiter moving between the two floors. It kind of adds to the sense of old-world mystery and charm. This restaurant definitely has that extra something that makes me want to plan a return visit soon.
15 Brisbane Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9261 3524