In Japan you get your yakitori (chicken-on-a-stick) fix in izakayas, informal gastro-pubs where salary men fill in the void between work finishing and dinner. Heading up a "young but enthusiastic” team, Tin Jung Shea (ex-The Cliff Dive) has recreated the same super-relaxed drinking atmosphere right here in Crows Nest.
Settle in for beverages and bites at the polished concrete bar with a bird’s-eye view of the stick-flipping action, or pull up a table and turn your visit into a casual dinner using clever sides.
First on the agenda is washing away the sorrows of your work-life with a palate cleansing ale. The one to drink here is the golden Orion Draft ($8/400ml) from Okinawa - the hip, sub-tropical outpost of Japan. It’s crisp, refreshing and mild enough to be a great sake chaser if you’re a fan of double-parking.
You know I am, so against a bowl of Edamame ($4.90) and some even better Burdock Root Chips ($4.90) that make a tasty, lightly seasoned alternative to potato chips, I got stuck into sake.
The Yurippi team prepared me three tokkuri (flasks) of different sakes and gave me some tips on which dishes they’d suit best. You can get them to do the same, or skip straight to my favourite, the Yuki-no-Bousha ($25/300ml), which has a full, round flavour that makes it a hit with grilled meat.
Start with the classic – Chicken Thigh and Shallot ($2.90/each) accentuated by sweet soy - before you hit the star: Tsukune ($4.50/each).
Popular in Japan, these house-made chicken meatballs are made by mincing chicken thighs with soft bones for added texture, shallots, ginger and garlic, basted with sweet soy, and served up with a runny 63-degree egg.
They’re also making their own dashi (a Japanese stock) using sake, shitake stems, soy, mirin and kombu, which is put to excellent effect in a delicate, Japanese Omelette ($4.90).
The long, brown seaweed (kombu) is also employed in butter form to accentuate sashimi-grade Scallops ($4.50/each). Handle them carefully though, coming straight off the grill, the shells are scorching hot.
At the more fun end of things, there are Bacon-Wrapped Mochi ($4.50) skewers made using glutinous rice cakes. They have a texture similar to roasted marshmallow, without being as sweet. Or there's Japanese fried chook, called Karaage ($4.90), served up here in a mini fry basket with Kewpie mayonnaise.
Now while kombu is the taste I’ll most remember this spot for – especially on the super simple Cabbage ($4.90) side – eating my first oden was a very close second.
This warming chicken broth is sold in Japanese convenience stores, with the floating additions added like we select lollies in a Pick-n-Mix! You can either let the Yurippi team do the selecting for you by ordering a six-piece Oden Set ($9.90), or choose your own favourites from tofu-wrapped creamy mochi, fishcakes, egg, yam cakes, or wedges of white radish (daikon).
I’d be hard pressed to remember another dish that I’ve eaten that made me feel more like I was experiencing something authentically Japanese. Yes, authenticity is something this tiny but charming yakitori bar has in abundance!
7 Falcon Street, Crows News
Ph: (02) 8041 9261