Bondi's Raw Bar is the classic light, summery Japanese joint everyone wishes was in their 'hood.
Perched ideally at the north end of the iconic beach – close enough to see the sea lapping across the park, far enough away to escape the din of the main strip — Raw Bar is a treasured local. It's the kind of place you could rock up to in thongs and board shorts, but the casualness doesn't extend to the kitchen, which crafts modern Japanese with excellent attention to detail.
The focus here is very much on fresh and clean flavours and sourcing top-notch produce. Sashimi in particular is done with the precision it demands; you can pick from glistening strips of kingfish, salmon or tuna or get a selection of all three in the mixed sashimi (6 pieces $15.50, 12 pieces $24.50). A well-dressed raw bar salad ($16.50) also makes the most of crisp, fresh produce with neatly uniform batons of cucumber and capsicum sitting alongside wilted spinach, tomato, shredded cabbage and avocado in a rainbow-coloured array of flavours.
Sushi is first rate, with options ranging from bite-sized pieces to more substantial inside-out rolls. The Ocean roll is typical of Raw Bar's neatly presented fare, featuring textbook cuts of raw salmon, avocado and fish roe and a drop of mayonnaise on each piece.
Having served Bondi locals since the mid-'90s, Raw Bar boasts a close-knit team, with many of the floor staff having come across from general manager Karl Misch's previous gigs at the likes of Longrain and Toko. Head chef Shintaro Honda has lately been adding to his repertoire of classics with new options like plump tempura oysters, which prove to be a treat, the light batter giving way to the briny flesh inside.
Drinks run the gamut from Australian wines to classic cocktails (Bellini, Negroni). There's some summery originals like a daiquiri which splits the difference between the sweetness of lychees and the piercing clean flavour of fresh ginger, as well as a nicely pulpy pickled ginger mojito stacked with fresh mint (both $14.50).
Round out your meal with a sweet and sticky plum wine or a sake, maybe the aromatic Dassai 39 with notes of cherry blossom, or a number of others which are listed with a helpful sweetness/dryness value. Then all that's left to do is wander through the palm trees down to the beach and wish you had a local Japanese place this good.