At Masuya, in Sydney’s CBD, you won’t spot any celebrities, the way you might at lavish, trendy Japanese pleasure palaces like Sake or Toko. What you will see are tables filled with Japanese businessmen, ordering authentic Japanese cuisine that is more like Tokyo than you will find anywhere else in Sydney.
For the Japanese novice, be prepared to encounter some unusual flavour combinations. A far cry from your standard teriyaki-chicken-roll joint, the menu at Masuya features dishes such as lobster sashimi and kingfish wings cooked with mirin, soy, ginger and served with tofu. For those keen to avoid any unwanted surprises, stick to Australianised-Japanese favourites such as salmon sashimi, nasu miso (deep fried miso eggplant) or tempura. But I dare say, after you try Masuya’s version, you will soon be snubbing your local Japanese takeaway.
Rainbow Roll – covered california roll with salmon, tuna, white fish and avocado
One of Misuya’s signature dishes – a Mulloway jewfish fillet rolled in a potato net and served with a dill and soy butter sauce – is a delicious adventure, well worth a try. Masuya’s desserts also pack a punch – for the brave, try the tofu and cream cheese cake or the homemade green tea brulee. Tofu and green tea has never tasted so good.
Masuya is one of most authentic Japanese restaurants in Sydney.
Read more about Masuya here
Blink and you’ll miss the entrance to this new concept restaurant and bar on South Yarra’s Chapel Street. Owned and run by brothers Petros and Alexis Lambis, Speakeasy Kitchen & Bar is a one stop shop for all your wining and dining desires.
Perfect on a sunny Melbourne day, the outdoor area is ideal for a drink and casual meal
Slip through the Speakeasy shopfront and a deceptively large space is revealed. Modern and sophisticated, the design by Eon Architects features smart wood paneling, clean-cut Nordic furniture, an open kitchen and cascading wire chandeliers that soften the edge. Upstairs, the elegant private dining area provides seating for up to 40 and is the ideal space for a special gathering. However, for those not interested in formalities, a large courtyard outback offers alfresco nibbling on large communal tables and an area to enjoy a boutique beer or two. This rear patio (and obviously the restaurant’s name) takes inspiration from the 1920’s prohibition era speakeasy bars – featuring ‘secret’ laneways covered in graffiti art by local artists. The New-York inspired images that bedeck the buildings perimeter are by Paul Round of Urban Enhancement, whose character filled designs boast as much flair as the bartenders themselves. In the speakeasy theme, weekend barbeques draw quite the crowd, and with plans to feature live music throughout the summer, Petros and Alexis are sure to have their hands busy.
It’s rare to find a place that you can enjoy a drink and meal the night before, and happily head back the next morning for breakfast and this is what Speakeasy is all about. Whether you’re looking for a coffee and croissant, a beer and burger on a Sunday arvo, or a three-course meal of French Bistro classics, Speakeasy has it all.
The brother duo have done something rather novel and wonderful at this little gem of a restaurant on Chapel Street.
Read more about Speakeasy Kitchen & Bar here
It’s a Sunday night, but Mamasan is buzzing and it’s easy to see why. This Bondi favourite is reeling in local crowds with its modern Asian tapas menu and a stellar drinks list featuring Asahi and Sapporo on tap.
Sprawled over two shop fronts, Mamasan is surprisingly roomy, with space for up to 90 people. There are also secret nooks that have been well conceived for intimate group dining. The moody lighting adds to the comfortable ambiance, while quirky design features, such as lucky cats, Astro Boy characters, toy soldiers and Godzilla figurines give the restaurant its charm.
The quirky interior suits the hip Bondi crowd
There are only three of us dining, but everything on the menu sounds so appealing that we order enough for five. Despite the fact that the restaurant is busy, the service is friendly and efficient (a surprise for Bondi). Each dish is presented as a tapas-style meal, with enough for four people in each serving. Duck pancakes are underwhelming, but the prawn sesame rolls are deliciously crunchy and the soft shell crab is lightly-battered and tender, with the yuzu aioli and Nepalese spicy tomato ‘Achar’ sauce providing additional bite.
In a rushed decision, we order the pork sliders off the special menu (one each at $14 a pop), without really knowing what to expect. It was as if a Momofuku-like pork bun met a Rockpool burger and had a baby. It’s a messy dish, but memorable. Let’s hope it becomes more than just a special.
It’s at this point we should have stopped (did I mentioned we also demolished one-bite-beef and BBQ chicken wings?) but us greedy Eastern Suburb folk always want more. We converse with the group at the table next to us and they recommend the ‘fish on fire’. The dish involves miso-marinated Salmon that has been cooked between cedar wood papers and then smoked. The final product arrives at the diners’ table with the cedar embers still glowing and served with a side of marmalade, which is an unusual but brilliant combination of flavours.
Read more about Mamasan here