Kenji Maenaka manned the dessert station next to the coiffed and tattooed boys at Bodega for years. Recently he's flown the coop to open Izakaya Fujiyama on Waterloo Street (another cab to join the rank next to Orto Trading Co. and El Capo), a Japanese bar and restaurant with an enviable sake range that is watering mouths all over the city.
Izakaya, to put it bluntly, is a Japanese bar, with affordable food to match the drinks. There's a lot on offer from the deep fryer, which goes down nicely with their range of frosty Japanese beers like Saporo, Asahi and Yebiso. The spicy Japanese fried potatoes, fried snapper with Japanese escabeche or KFC (Kenji's Fried Chicken) with a sweet mayonnaise would start the night well if you were stopping by for a pre-dinner snack.
You might be lucky enough to try a special of soft and smokey cubes of miso-cured and lightly seared salmon, or you could go all neanderthal and order the whole grilled tuna jaw, a toothy, prehistoric-looking dish which you pick away at, leaving the gleaming carcass behind. A dish you need to order just to say "yeh I eat fish skull, what of it?" The sashimi is sliced with razor sharp precision and is fresh and juicy but it's the teriyaki beef ribs, sticky and dark, whose tender flesh has been sliced and laid across the bones left for you to chew on, is a contender for best dish to smash with a beer in Sydney. However, the lime-flavoured kingfish with miso and fried wedges of tortilla was a little lack-lustre, the beigey-brown colour and oil-soaked tortilla could have been a little more vibrant with more citrus.
The desserts echo those plated up at Bodega, warm chocolate cake with baked quince and condensed milk ice cream, or vanilla bean ice cream served with a toffee and Japanese vinegar topping will finish up a night of snacks and sake rather nicely.
52 Waterloo St, Surry Hills, Sydney
Open for dinner Mon-Sat from 5.30pm
02 9698 2797