Heading up the kitchen is chef Dan Chan, formerly of Hong Kong’s Yardbird, which is known for its yakitori skewers and hibachi grilled meats.
Chan’s yakitori menu offers wings with salty yuzu spice, and tender thigh skewers complemented by charred leek that is juicy, smoky and a star in its own right. And while some may shy away from chicken hearts, to avoid them would mean missing out on delicate and flavourful offal, topped with crunchy fried garlic.
Other highlights on the Small Stuff menu include smoked beef tartare loaded with paprika and served with lotus root chips. And slices of raw kingfish with dots of wasabi, pickled daikon and ponzu dressing.
Larger plates include a chunk of grilled barramundi with miso and brown butter, and Wagyu porterhouse served rare with beef fat butter, mayo and wasabi on the side. On the lunch menu there’s chicken ramen with black fungus and burnt garlic, and a katsu sando.
Both Toji Sake variations – the junmai daiginjo and the junmai ginjo – are available by the glass or bottle. Sake features on the cocktail menu, too: in the MSG (matcha, sake, gin) and a sake Margarita with a chilli-salt rim, created and named after Toshiro Mifune, the Japanese actor who played a Mexican in the 1962 film Ánimas Trujano.
For beer fans there are a couple of big-name Japanese brews and a concise list of easy-drinking locals such as Balter XPA, Two Birds Trail Blazer and Stomping Ground Pale Ale. With the exception of champagne, the wine list is all Australian and all feels familiar, without being too safe.