Crane Bar Restaurant
A fabulously innovative menu puts this among the top Japanese restaurants in Sydney.
If you're looking for a new go-to restaurant for special occasions, then take note of Crane Bar Restaurant. Housed in an elegant, unassuming building on Bayswater Road in Potts Point, Crane isn't exactly the spot for a casual, drop-in dinner, but it's got a stylish, sexy vibe and would be the perfect choice for a first date with someone you're particularly keen to impress.
Executive chef Taichi Ito comes with serious provenance, having previously worked as the executive Japanese chef at the Stamford Plaza, Brisbane. While it's billed as a Japanese fusion restaurant, the food hasn't been married with any specific cuisine; rather, there are various international accents peppered throughout the menu. Some have a distinctly Italian touch, others more Australian. It's fabulously innovative.
You can't miss the spicy edamame. I was delighted to realise that the beans had been delicately coated in truffle oil. It was heavenly; had I not been under the watchful eye of a group of stern-looking German women at the next table, I would have licked the bowl. If it's sashimi you're hankering for, then I'd strongly recommend the kingfish. Feeling adventurous? Then try the daikon arrabiata (daikon is a very fresh tasting Japanese radish). Ito transforms the vegetable into long strands of 'fettucine', before tossing them in a light, spicy, Italian-inspired sauce. The menu is faultless, and there is a lovely selection of wines and classic cocktails with a Japanese twist to pair with your meal.
If you're after something a little more substantial, then you can't go past the chicken karaage. Fun fact: Ito told me that, while working one night in Brisbane, Snoop Dogg wandered in. Now, wherever Snoop travels, he specifically asks to be served only KFC. Chef wouldn't have a bar of this ridiculous request, and sent some of this delicious crispy chicken karaage with wasabi mayo to the hungry rapper. Snoop was very impressed (perhaps also by Ito's chutzpah) and insisted on meeting him.
Crane isn't cheap, but given the quality of the food they serve, I'd consider it good value. Their website describes them as the "best Japanese restaurant in Sydney". You know what? I'm inclined to agree.
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