Tamura Sake Bar

Saturday
12:00pm - 11:00pm
43 Gertrude Street Fitzroy 3065

Fumi Tamura and and his wife Takako opened Tamura Sake Bar in 2019. It combines two of the couple’s big loves: sake and music. There’s no room for a live band here, but music is still front and centre. Tamura is equal parts sake bar, Japanese diner and record store.

The bar nods to a traditional izakaya and creates a friendly, communal vibe. Where there’d normally be a chef in the middle, there’s a turntable and a bartender. Jet black walls are a simple backdrop for Bonsai plants, Hello Kitty lunchboxes, vintage electronics and other Japanese kitsch alongside bottles of sake and records for sale, imported from Tokyo.

The drinks list at Tamura’s showcases what he calls “third wave sake”: interesting new styles from microbreweries and young producers who’ve taken over operations from an older generation. Many are unfiltered, unpasteurised and unpredictable – a bit like natural wine.

But sake isn’t all there is to drink. You’ll also find a selection of craft beer, and plum and yuzu wine. The Tamura Rice XPA is a collaboration between Tamura and Temple Brewing. There are also Japanese-leaning cocktails such as the Coco Niseko: coffee shochu, rum, coconut syrup and tonic water.

For food, you’ll find traditional izakaya-style small plates. The Japanese fried chicken sings with citrus, sugar and vinegar. Yakitori might include chicken breast with melted cheese and mentaiko (an intense salted cod roe); tsukune, a sweet, soy-infused chicken meatball; and chargrilled chicken thigh with a hint of smoke.

A plate of crispy salmon skin is like a huge, fishy potato chip: addictive and audibly crunchy. Even better is the blistered, intensely salty chicken skin. Japanese katsu chicken curry comes with purple rice, vegetables, mayo and shredded cheese, you can also grab a big bowl of chicken or vegan ramen. A snackier option is the katsu sando.

Updated: April 8th, 2019

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