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.