Dine-in sake shops – Toyko’s answer to bar food and tapas – provided the inspiration for The Apollo owners’ imminent restaurant, Cho Cho San, opening in June.

“Jonathan [Barthelmess] and I have recently spent time in Japan where we were inspired by the rich and multi-layered food and drink culture,” says co-owner Sam Christie. “With Cho Cho San we want to bring some of the big-city buzz and excitement of Tokyo back to Sydney.” He is no stranger to the Asian table after 15 years at the helm of Longrain restaurants.

Cho Cho San promises to be an experimental venture with head chef Nicolas Wong (currently at Ester) on board to bring Barthelmess’ seasonal menu of creative spins on Japanese classics to life.

In homage to the izakaya, Cho Cho San’s bar will be well stocked with, “The best sake, sochu, whisky, beer and a wine list perfectly tailored to suit the food,” says Barthelmess. “We love the amazing drinking culture in Japan: the tiny bar, the buzzing izakayas and the huge variety of drinks with their deep traditions.” Melon, yuzu, apple, nashi pear and seaweed will provide the accompaniments for a formidable cocktail menu.

Barthelmess promises Cho Cho San will impress locals by “exploring and re-interpreting the rich heritage of Japanese food in a style that’s produce-driven, simple and elegant.”

The Macleay Street joint is currently putting the final touches on its clean minimal interiors, designed by architect and interior designer George Livissianis, in preparation for its June opening.