Up until the month of August one of Sydney’s oldest and most loved venues The Oaks in Neutral Bay is teaming up with iconic Japanese beer company Kirin Beers and transforming the space into a Sakaba (Japanese for bar). The temporary takeover and new oriental design quickly transports you to the Japanese gardens of Tokyo. Traditional red lanterns, bamboo archways and LED cherry blossom trees guide the way to the main bar area of 1936. Here traditional rice paper screens to create private seating pods within the bar space almost reminiscent of an ancient teahouse.
Kirin beer is known for their unique approach to brewing using the ‘Ichibahn Shibori’ or ‘FirstPress’ brewing method. A unique, uncompromising brewing process that utilises the purest flavorsome liquid that is drawn only from a single pressing of the finest ingredients. The result from this attention to detail is an exceptional beer that demonstrates rich and pure flavours, mildly bitter with a delicate fruity taste. Also on showcase is Kirin’s range of ciders, choosing from Fuji Apple, pear and a Mulled cider.
I started my night of with the Kirin Mulled Cider, served in its own little teapot it just seemed like the right way to kick off the cold winters night. This little concoction packs a pretty hefty punch. Served up warm and bursting with spices such as cinnamon, star anise, ginger and a squeeze of lemon, this is sure to get the fire in the belly started.
Hungry guests will also be able to order from the bars special menu of Japanese classics with a twist. Created by celebrity chef Danny Russo, the menu consists of mouth watering Asian-inspired fusion dishes.
Hands down my favorite dish of the night was the Nori crackers ($9) nori seaweed sheets hand dipped on one side into tempura batter and deep-fried until crispy. Accompanied with a smoked benito aioli and black sesame seeds. There is an underlying heat here from the aioli which then teamed up with the crispness from the beer, well lets just say it’s the perfect bar snack and I could eat these by the bowl full.
The Japanese disco fries ($12) besides having such a cool name was a nice spin on the Aussie pub fav chips and gravy. These fries have been topped with melted cheese, smoked salmon, drizzled in a sweet smokey teriyaki sauce and topped with chilli and coriander. I was skeptical of this dish at first but the more I ate the more intrigued I became with the flavour. This is a great share dish for amongst friends it is on the lager side.
The Pork belly yakitori ($12) served with a cucumber, snow pea and pickle ginger salad and aioli. Large chunks of succulent, perfectly cooked pork belly that just melts in your mouth is served with the crisp salad that helps cut through the richness of the pork. My only nit pick here is the aioli sauce on the side, now I love a good sauce but I just found that the dish was so perfect that I had no use for the aioli.
The Chicken karaage ($16) was my last dish of the night. Mouthwatering pieces of fried chicken served with a chilli aioli. This is a very generous serving and one dish to get your hands dirty on as the pieces are a little on the larger side for the chopsticks that we were given to use. How ever after a few beers and amongst friends etiquette can take back seat.
I really loved the menu that both Kirin and The Oaks team have put together, its fun and delicious sensory journey to Japan without leaving the comforts of the 1936 bar. This is the perfect winter menu thanks to chef Danny Russo ingenious use of warming spices such as chilli; wasabi, ginger and use of smoked flavors will warm the dinners up from the inside out.
The Kirin Sakaba at The Oaks launched on June 8th and runs until 21th August in the 1936 Bar at The Oaks.