Tag Archives: Izakaya

Bondi’s PaperPlanes is a high-flier

Ever seen a ceiling made of 500 individually-painted, brightly coloured Japanese skateboards? Or walked through a tin fleet of origami cranes that hang in limbo? Chuck in a purple, 10-metre neon-lit bar and you have Bondi’s PaperPlanes. Hidden away from the tourist-driven chaos of Campbell Parade, PaperPlanes is the brainchild of brothers Matt, Chris and Tim Barge (of Barge8), who also own LL Wine and Dine in Potts Point, together with business partner Phil Capaldi.

PaperPlanes Functions & Events

The ceiling features 500 individually-painted Japanese skateboards

The restaurant design features a quirky mix of kitsch Tokyo pop culture (think Manga comics) and Bondi sass. When we walk in the doors, it’s like we’ve been transported to downtown Tokyo, but the crowd, mostly made up of Bondi’s beautiful people in all their golden-skinned, Tsubi-wearing glory, reminds us that we’re still firmly planted on Australian soil.

An origami-folded menu reveals an array of modern Asian cuisine that has a clear Japanese bent. It’s been created by former LL Wine and Dine head chef, Jin Kung. For starters, the edamame is served with a seriously hot chilli sea salt and provides the perfect excuse for throwing back one of their signature cocktails – the ginger and lychee martini. A sesame seed-crusted yellow fin tuna is seared and sliced in rectangular mouthfuls, topped with a pinch of fried garlic and macro herbs.

Kingfish belly carpaccio with chili oil and a sweet ginger and mirin sauce, topped with tempura jalapeno

Kingfish carpaccio with a sweet ginger, chilli oil and mirin sauce, topped with tempura jalapeno

The special of the day, a pretty ceviche dish of salmon, watermelon and avocado is testament to how well Asian flavours and Australian ingredients work hand-in-hand. After our cold appetisers, the kushiyaki (grilled skewers) become the perfect ‘transition dish’ from entrée to main. The shiitake mushroom stuffed with a truffle and prawn butter has a curious flavour that is beguiling but it is the red miso eggplant that is truly impressive. The cubes of eggplant ooze with a salty-yet-sweet sauce and the only problem with the dish is that there just isn’t enough of it. The sake-flamed teriyaki chicken is served with sautéed white wild mushrooms, giving the dish an interesting edge that makes you wonder, why don’t more Japanese restaurants serve this?

Char-grilled sea scallops with kushiyaki glaze

Char-grilled sea scallops with kushiyaki glaze

There are nine different sakes in 60-millilitre, 240-millilitre and 720-millilitre sizes, and an international wine list that spans European and South American varietals as well as Australian drops. The cocktails, however, are what you’re here for – with a range of standard concoctions, served with Asian twists like fresh yuzu, shochu and wasabi infused vodka.

Anna Lisle

Read more about PaperPlanes here

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Filed under Bondi, Bondi Beach, PaperPlanes, Reviews

Can’t get enough of Darlinghurst’s new izakaya restaurant… Kaya

The smell wafts out onto Oxford Street and hits us before we even enter the front door. If I hadn’t already booked a table at Kaya, I would have ditched my original plans and made a reservation here. “It’s the robata,” explains Tim Lackey, Kaya’s energetic co-owner who greets us at the door, “It’s seriously amazing.” Suddenly, we’re ravenous.

Moody and atmosphere, Kaya is perfect for first dates

Moody and atmospheric, Kaya is a perfect first date restaurant

Once home to the darling of Darlinghurst, Rambutan, Kaya’s interior has been designed by the visionary team, Splinter Society. Kaya’s dining room draws inspiration from traditional Japanese izakaya bars, whilst utilising Australian materials such as cypress pine from the Dandenong Ranges to create a dynamic space that incorporates high and low-tech features from sound-proof walls to manga graffiti.

Straying away from your standard sushi and sashimi Japanese offering, the menu at Kaya stays true to the traditional notion of “izakaya” dining —that is, a series of small dishes designed to share while you drink. With the seductive smell wafting around the restaurant, robata dishes are our main priority… that is, until we see the venison tataki and sashimi don on the table next to us. We start with the rice wine and seaweed cured kingfish and ocean trout, sweet shell-grilled scallops doused in a zingy citrus ponzu and miso eggplant.

We recommend you start with this rice wine and seaweed cured kingfish and ocean trout

Start with this rice wine and seaweed cured kingfish and ocean trout

Being don-devotees, we can’t resist ordering both the sashimi and chicken yakitori options. At that point, the shell grilled scallops and venison were competing for the title as ‘favourite dish’. That was until the (take a deep breath for this) 600 gram, 24 hour slow cooked, glazed wagyu rib arrived in front of us. The race was over, a winner was declared.

“It’s a Friday night – of course you’ve got to have a cocktail!” I have to admit, it doesn’t take long for my efficient waiter to convince me to order the green appletini and as soon as I take a sip of smooth combination of freshly squeezed Granny Smith apple, vodka, lime and sugar, I’m in a picture of satisfaction.

From the moment we smelled the robata grill to that first mouthful of venison tataki – we were hooked. There isn’t much that falls short of amazing at Kaya.

Anna Lisle

Read more about Kaya here

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Filed under Darlinghurst, Kaya, Reviews, Uncategorized