Yakitori is hot stuff in Sydney. In the last six months Daniel San, Chaco Bar, and Goro's have burst onto the Japanese chicken-skewer scene and Toko and Sake have both opened new locations heavy on the robata-grilled meats.
The latest player on the yakitori scene is Tokyo Bird, a super-small laneway bar in Surry Hills. The space has been designed by Archstallations (also responsible for the Chat Thai restaurants) and features recycled-brick walls and bar stools handmade with 80-year-old salvaged hardwood.
General manager Jason Ang (ex Sokyo bar) says he is trying to bring the essence of Japanese bar culture to Sydney.
"We don't want people to label us as either a bar or a restaurant," he says. "We do put a lot of effort into making good food, but we don't want people to feel they need to eat when they come here. Anyone can just stop in for a couple of drinks and have a great night out."
A compact drinks list features Japanese whiskey, beer, and sake. Cocktails from bar manager Yoshi Onishi (ex Stitch) feature seasonal fruit and change fortnightly.
Onishi and Ang will also be expanding the whiskey selection with boutique Japanese labels throughout the year.
You'll want yakitori with that whiskey though. It's $7 for two sticks and the menu features chicken wings, heart, liver, and giblets, and a kransky-style sausage studded with bits of cheese. When the sausage (known as arabiki in Japan) is grilled, the cheese starts to melt and you have a stick of filling, gooey goodness.
"It's very popular in Japan," says Ang.
Tokyo Bird, Shop 2, 226-228 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills, 8880 0788. Open Mon-Sat 4pm-midnight.