When Iwao Yamanishi closed Willoughby’s Spanish Sakaba at the end of 2022, it was a blow to Sydney’s ramen scene. The star item – a peppery, almost pho-like soup with a hunk of Wagyu oxtail floating on top – was like no other, and the restaurant’s signature blend of Japanese and Spanish flavours quickly turned it into a north-shore destination. A year later, the chef has resurfaced – and you’d better believe ramen is back on the menu.

His eponymous Crows Nest diner pays homage to the east-meets-west izakayas that proliferated Japan in the ’80s and early ’90s. And while some Sakaba signatures remain, Yamanishi is playing with a new concept here. Chasing that oxtail ramen? You can get it three different ways (plus curry and snacks) at lunch, and lunch only. But if you’re in the mood for izakaya staples and rounds of Sapporo, the night is yours.

A dinnertime visit will likely involve plates of yakitori skewers, sashimi and house pickles. Old Sakaba fans will recognise (and love) the spicy tuna tacos; tomato bread with jamon serrano; and matcha churros with caramel and chocolate sauce. Though New Yamanishi is kid-friendly, adults have plenty to work with in the drinks department. Think highballs, boozy slushies and a tight list of Aussie wines.

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Updated: March 1st, 2024

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