Surely this is the most entertaining restaurant experience you’ll find in Takapuna. Described as an Izakaya restaurant, best translated as a Japanese-style gastropub, which originated from sake shops that allowed customers to sit on the premises to drink, Sakebar Nippon has an informal, lively atmosphere.
You cannot help but smile and laugh when you enter and receive a raucous welcome from all the staff who beat the drums, tinkle the kitchen utensils and announce the new arrivals.
On your own, you can sit at the bar and watch the Japanese chefs chop, toss, slice and fry fresh ingredients. Sharing with others is relaxing in the booths surrounded by banners and other Japanese imagery including pretty lanterns overhead. And this is where we settled in for a fun, interactive meal one warm March evening.
Masa, young television journalist on a year’s work and language experience, looked after us (in his ‘year of the rat’ hat) with some cold drinks and patiently stayed on standby while we perused the large pictorial menu (available to view on their website). We were trying to design a selection of dishes that truly reflected the wide range on offer. But first, we started with a little sushi and some most delectable gyoza; the most popular appetiser on the menu. Chunky chopped vegetables in a spinach dumpling wrapper, along with the pork gyoza, were lightly fried and served with chopped fresh spring onions. One of each was just right.
A full range of classic Japanese cuisine is presented to choose from, including the choicest sashimi, sushi, skewers, teppan, tempura and udon dishes. We chose the trio of sashimi with kingfish, salmon and tuna along with the perfect beef tataki. Both picture perfect and fresh in the mouth. Some succulent chicken karage and sesame green beans balanced the flavours well.
We ensured we’d saved room for dessert and were rewarded with one of the best crème brulees we’d had anywhere. The green tea machi ice-cream was moreish while the banana tempura was surprisingly light and delicious.
A chat with Masa, chef Yoshi, and manager Mako gave us more insight in to all the ‘extras’ you get here at Sakebar Nippon. The karaoke dining room allows a group to enjoy a fun evening along with a couple of set menu options while, if it’s your birthday, you could be the recipient of a resounding birthday wish from the team and their various instruments, hats and masks. It’s a very inclusive experience here.
Arigato gozaimusu to the wonderful welcoming and entertaining team at Sakebar Nippon. We’ll be back for some karaoke!
Open 7 days for dinner 5pm until late
32-34 Anzac Street, Takapuna.
09 486 2249 www.sakebar.co.nz
If you would like your café, bar or restaurant reviewed by the Channel team, please contact us.