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Now Open: Tanuki Is Double Bay's Fun-Loving New Izakaya with an Ex-Sushi e Chef at the Helm

The Matteo team has opened another Bay Street winner with this vibrant new Japanese bar and diner.
By Ben Hansen
February 06, 2024
By Ben Hansen
February 06, 2024

The Bay Street boom has arrived, with two exciting new drinking and dining spots opening on the eastern suburbs thoroughfare within weeks of each other. Located within metres of one another, the new neighbourhood bar and restaurant Bartiga and the bustling izakaya Tanuki have both joined Double Bay stalwarts Bibo, The Royal Oak and Margaret on south Bay Street.

The latter of the two, a bustling multi-space Japanese venue from one of the area's most beloved hospitality teams, has arrived two doors down from its Italian sibling venue Matteo. Named after a mischievous figure in Japanese folklore (see: Studio Ghibli's Pom Poko), Tanuki is a fun-loving spot offering a raw bar, internal courtyard, impressive sake collection and late-night lounge.

The venue is centred around a 30-year-old Japanese liquid amber tree with a surrounding dining bench. There are several zones to discover throughout the space, whether you're dropping in for a sake and a plate of seared salmon temarizushi, or sticking around for a full feast.

Leading the kitchen is Head Chef Ken Wee Lee, who brings experience from Sushi e, Zuma and Toko to the opening. Wee Lee's menu is split into sashimi, nigiri, sushi rolls, tempura, robata, steak, sides and dessert, providing a little something for everyone. There's also a pair of set menus, with the reasonably priced $80 selection rolling through edamame, kingfish sashimi, wagyu beef tartare, scallop and prawn toast, chicken karaage, the steak of the day and matcha tiramisu.

Other menu highlights you can discover include Alaskan king crab cooked on the robata grill and served with truffle gratin, spatchcock presented with pickles and barley miso, and wagyu beef gyoza paired with a yuzu ponzu for dipping.

An all-star cast leads the way behind the bar, with the cocktails, sake and wine lists curated by General Manager Joong Charpentier (ex-Sushi e, Hemmisphere, Darlo Country Club), Bar Manager Sean Guardian (ex-Mr Wong) and Head Sommelier Ambroise Moriceau (ex-Bennelong, Momofuku Seiobo, Armorica).

"Tanuki's sake list is fun and approachable — with something for everyone, whether you're brand new to the world of sake or a seasoned expert," says Charpentier.

"The wine list is not built on classics nor trends, but with personalised choices, all reflecting values of sustainability and authenticity," adds Moriceau.

Alongside the extensive sake and wine selections, you can opt for an inventive highball, like the Yokozuna, which combines mandarin-infused Campari and Unico Zello yuzu vermouth, or peruse the signature cocktails — from the jasmine, lychee and elderflower Tea Ceremony to the Umeboshi, a collision of Don Julio Reposado tequila, plum umeshu, strawberry and wasabi leaf, and togarashi.

It's a jack-of-all-trades-style venue, offering a myriad of experiences, all set in a moody space designed by Matters + Made. Wander in from Bay Street, find your spot and decide what type of night you're in for.

Find Tanuki at 37 Bay Street, Double Bay — open 5.30pm–12am Wednesday–Friday, 12pm–12am Saturday and 12–10pm Sunday. Head to the restaurant's website for more information and to make a booking.

Published on February 06, 2024 by Ben Hansen
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