An izakaya on the lower north shore from one of Sydney's best ramen chefs.
July 24, 2020
It was a sad day in March when Ramen Ichibandori, one of Sydney's most loved ramen shops, closed its Neutral Bay restaurant. Now, having just wrapped up a pop-up at Gateway's Tokyo Laundry, the brand is officially closed for business. But Owner Libras Ting and Chef Hideto Suzuki have already moved on to their next venture, and it's fast becoming a lower north shore favourite.
The initial idea for Sekka Dining was to showcase regional Japanese cooking, with a specific focus on Suzuki's hometown in the far north of Honshu island, near Hokkaido. But, with the hospitality scene the way it is at the moment, Suzuki has instead moved toward a simple izakaya set up. Ting and Suzuki do not plan to remain 'just another ramen shop', though, and expect to offer yakitori and à la carte dining in the coming months.
For now, Sekka focuses on two main types of ramen broth — chintan (light and clear) and paitan (thick and cloudy) — split across five options: shoyu, shio, tonkotsu, black garlic tonkotsu and a vegan tomato ramen. Each comes topped with classic pork chashu and an umami egg. The tonkotsu varieties are offered in limited quantities and have been selling out each night, so be sure to get in early if you can.
To accompany the ramen, there are traditional izakaya snacks like karaage chicken with yuzu-chilli mayo, pork gyoza with house-made XO dipping sauce, smoked edamame and lotus chips. The snacks section also includes two lesser-known seafood dishes: blue fin tuna with soy egg yolk and rice vinegar mackerel with daikon.
For drinks, the focus is on beers and highballs, with the former including Asahi, Hitachino Nest and Tassie's Moo Brew, and the latter ranging from the classic whisky version to an Aperol and bitter lemon spritz and an ume-groni. Sake, shochu and wine lists also make the cut.
The interior is still in its humble beginnings, as the team is more focused on staying operational than the on the fit-out. Instead, they're using the top-notch food offering and Japanese hospitality to create the vibe. It seems to be working so far, with the restaurant's 30 seats currently booking out for dinner every night since the restaurant opening four weeks ago. More seating will become available as governmental restrictions continue to ease, too.
Suzuki and Ting are holding off planning too far ahead, as COVID-19 keeps the industry on its toes, but down the line, expect to see a yakitori menu, along with one-off collaborations and Sekka-branded products to boot.
Images: Leigh Griffiths