The first thing you notice at Maedaya are the floor-to-ceiling ropes that make you feel a little like you’re on the inside of a ship. The second thing you notice is the wall of sake, where the array of bottles boggles the mind.
But that’s what this izakaya is all about: the sake. Named for its owner, Toshi Maeda (the name literally translates to Maeda’s shop), it’s fitting that he is also the resident sake master.
Sake tastings are available, complete with three premium shots, flavour notes and a matched dish. All the hard work has been done for you and there’s plenty of friendly advice on choosing the right sake, courtesy of the master himself. But izakayas also offer small plates of food to go with your drinks and there’s a huge menu here, specialising in open grill. Take your time ordering – they've now introduced an iPad ordering system complete with pictures and a short description of each dish.
You can watch the chef work on your skewers behind the bar, while dainty dishes stream from the kitchen and fellow diners toast each other with jubilant cheers of ‘kampai’. Upstairs, diners play at DIY BBQ and the toasting continues. Bookings are available only for groups of six or more, so be prepared to wait a little for your table on the busier nights.
And if you order a bottle and can’t quite finish it? Well, Maedaya will keep it labelled and safe in a sake-locker. All you have to do is come back sometime soon to finish it off.