This little sake bar garnered fans at quite a pace. So much so that it underwent a small refurbishment early in its life. The skeleton of the space is quite stark and industrial, but with graffiti anime characters on the wall, deck chairs facing the street, overturned sake crates for seating and finely patterned textiles everywhere, the owner, Ken Cheung, has definitely created a playful and laidback setting.
With ex-Azuma chef Kei Takamatsu at the helm, the menu plays with authentic Japanese dishes without overwhelming them. Think calamari rings with wasabi mayo, avocado tempura or sweet potato chips. Bento brunch boxes are a new addition, with noodles, tempura, fruit and vegetables spilling out from each of the compartments. The contents vary according to availability, but are surprisingly brunch-friendly and are certainly a refreshing antidote to your typical eggs and toast affair.
And despite the brunch offerings, there is (shock, horror) no coffee here. Instead, a selection of ‘morning drinks’ is on offer, comprising frappes, smoothies, teas and juices – the kind of lighter refreshment you’d probably want with a bento box. However, there is an endearing little note at the bottom of the menu inviting you to source your coffee at some of the nearby cafes of Erskineville village.
As extended brunch turns into early evening, you could always endeavour to explore the extensive sake and shochu list, which proves to be rather educational on the differences between varieties. Otherwise, plum wine, cider or a creative cocktail will satisfy those less interested in forging a career in sake swilling.
With live music coinciding with happy hour, and a dinner menu echoing the playfulness of the brunch and bar menus, Kuki Tanuki conspires to lure you in during the morning and make you stay all night.