Located in the gentrified alley of Steam Mill Lane, Nakano offers an Izakaya experience amidst the other wonderful eats in the area.
Nakano Darling is a Japanese izakaya-style bar serves chicken karaage, gyoza, sake, beer and Japanese style highballs. It’s split into several rooms, including two shoes-off tatami mat areas, a long bar and even a karaoke room in case you feel like belting one out.
The team behind the casual Japanese pub is music industry veteran, Chris Wu, and he’s joined forces with Tin-Jung Shea and Mitomo Somehara, the duo behind Yakitori Yurippi and Tahinomi YP in Crows Nest.
Highballs are the chosen drink at Nakano with an exclusive line up of Japanese whisky and the only Sydney venue serving Suntory Kakubin. When the team heard Suntory was ending their export of Kakubin whisky to Australia so they bought every bottle they could – $10,000 worth.
If you want to truly embrace the izakaya experience, start with a beer and a bowl of salted edamame. As the night progresses, move to highballs of Suntory whisky and soda, and a plate of salt-vinegar-and-garlic karaage.
My favourite item in an izakaya, the gyutan, and they seldom serve them thinly sliced like this outside a Japanese yakiniku restaurant. Usually you get thick cubes, but I enjoy them with the leeks better.
Japanese cabbage has a naturally sweet taste, but these local variety is not as such; they have bitter aftertaste and only balanced out with the sour plum sauce.
The summer special included this miso beef stew, just like the ones you would get in a Japanese izakaya back home. The Australian beef used was, well, “beefier” and therefore pack a better taste.
The sausages are imported from Japan; they have that strangely satisfying “do not ask what they filled them with” meat that can only come from the Japanese version of the wurst.
There are very few vegan choices. And if you do not take eggs as part of your vegetarian choice, there’s almost nothing left.
They recommended to pair the sizzling spoonfuls of corn and melty cheese from a hot buttery skillet with some sake.
Like karaage, gyoza comes freshly fried and in three serving sizes. It will take some time, because nothing is frozen as they make the batches fresh in the back kitchen
It’s freshness that you can taste with every bite. Each gyoza was crispy on one side and soft on the other. And because when you bite into one; the scalding juices may just burnt your lips.
The end of the cycle is Japanese congee or fried noodles. Those items are called shime – to finish; a carb-filled end to carry you home.
Not a serious dinner place, but a great get-together place for colleagues and friends to have a drink with some nifty bites. Very popular after dark, so reservations are recommended, especially when there are exhibitions in the nearby ICC.
14 Steam Mill La, Haymarket NSW 2000, Australia
Tel : +61 403 682 492
Visited Mar 2023
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