Sake Bar Nippon - Manukau Rd Epsom

Sake Bar Nippon

A girlfriend needed cheering up and I knew just the place. Noisy and fun with good food, there’s no way you can be sad at Sake Bar Nippon.

I lived in Japan for a few years and this is one of those places that takes me right back there instantly. The wooden interior, the noren (material room dividers) and boards covered in Kanji hanging down from the front of the open kitchen, the loud exclamation “Irasshaimase” welcoming  you as you enter. Sake Bar Nippon is very authentic with great, friendly and very quick service.

We ordered Chicken Karage, Agedashi Tofu, Seaweed Salad and Prawn Mayo and every single dish was a winner. The Chicken Kara-age ($9) had that perfect crunchy coating on the outside and super tender and juicy chicken on the inside. As my girlfriend said, “There’s a secret childhood KFC lover in all of us.” And this brought it out. The same qualities we loved about the Colonel’s secret recipe as kids but executed far better and possibly more naturally I imagine. Grown up Kentucky.

The Salad ($10) was also excellent with mixed leaves, carrot, seaweed, wafu dressing and a squirt of japanese mayo. I do love a good japanese dressing with that great combo of soy, vinegar, sugar oil and – in this case – definitely citrus. The mayo was a nice addition but I would have been just as happy without it. The agedashi tofu ($8) was a stellar example of this standard isakaya dish. Silky fresh tofu deep-fried in the lightest of cornflour batter bathed in a delicate warm dashi/mirin/soy broth with a sprinkling of finely chopped nori, spring onions and those fabulous bonito flakes that seem to dance with the heat. It’s always a dish that works well, if done properly, as there is such a variation of complementary textures and flavours involved.


I am a sucker for Prawn Mayo ($14) or anything with that decadent teppan prawn dressing on it. Whatever that combo of cheese, mayonnaise, butter and all other things sinful is, it just should not work as well as it does with seafood, but it does. This one had been flamed giving it a slightly crispy skin. My friend liked it but found it slightly rich but I could eat it till the cows come home, much to my waistline’s despair.

Mission accomplished. Great meal, lots of fun and one much happier friend. Our spirits couldn’t even be dampened when a large group upstairs cranked up Kenny Rogers on the Karaoke, although we did just happen to be leaving at the same time. Don’t go here for an intimate quiet date, rock up ready for noise, fun and good quick food.

Location: 415 Manukau Road, Epsom
Phone: (09) 638 8877
Hours:  Seven days from 6pm
Prices:  Sushi/Nigiri/Sashimi $3-$18, Tempura $8-$16, Teppan/Yakatoi $7-$18, Salads $8-$14
Credit Cards: Yes
Licensed: Yes and BYO
Suitable for Vegetarians: Yes
Takeaways: Yes
Bathrooms: Good
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
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1 Response

  1. Lisa says:

    I recently went here for my mother’s birthday, after booking we were placed in the upstairs area which is a bit quieter and has seating on the floor with the table very low to the ground.

    We are normally pleased with Sake Bar and were very disappointed at the number of problems that night. Our food took an outrageously long time to arrive with dishes arriving at random times. Somehow the waiters were not told by the kitchen that they had run out of the fish for my mother’s dish. She received no meal and upon questioning after most other things had arrived (except that they also forgot another dish) they still said it would only be a little longer. 1.5 hours later upon approaching several waiters at once we discovered that the kitchen had run out hours ago. 3 free desserts were provided but the night was just disappointing. The food was pretty good just not great value.

    The waitress was lovely and helpful and seemed thrown by the fact that no one in an authority position knew what was going on! I hope this was just an off-day for them but we will not be back it was a stressful meal and the portion sizes were also disappointing and seemed smaller than other times we had been (some of the Japanese places in town have larger portions for less and are tastier too such as genzui ramen bar or mentatz despite their average service, saika is another tasty, affordable alternative).

    I hope others had more positive experiences, the atmosphere is rather awesome with drums and shouting when you enter.

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