Kazan Dining honours the subtleties of classic Japanese cooking: delicate flavours, first-rate ingredients and exquisite presentation.

“Our head chef, Shinya Nakano (ex-Kisume in Melbourne), was trained by fifth-generation sushi masters in Kyoto. He’s a sushi master, which requires years of training,” says Kiehyon Yoo, co-owner of the elegant Japanese diner, which just opened at the 25 Martin Place precinct (formerly the MLC Centre) in Sydney CBD. It joins other new venues in the hub including Aalia, Cabana Bar and Botswana Butchery.

Although Yoo describes Nakano’s style as “traditional”, the menu walks a confident line between classic and creative. Nigiri made with hiramasa kingfish, Hokkaido scallop, aburi salmon belly or otoro (tuna belly) are enhanced with garnishes such as nori butter. And maki (sushi rolls), including a tuna and cucumber number, are finished with salty-sour, shiso-laced shibazuke (pickle) salsa and crisp curry leaves.

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“He reinterprets classical dishes, rearranges them and gives them a surprising twist,” says Yoo. “For example, the ebi [prawn] tempura is served with a dashi soy and two house-made salts that completely shift the flavour of the prawns while enhancing the visual experience. One is burnt-yellow curry salt, and the other is bright purple plum salt.”

The robata (grill) menu extends Nakano’s creativity with ingredients that occasionally reference Kazan’s Canberra sister venue, popular nikkei (Japanese-Peruvian) eatery Inka. Wagyu Scotch fillet with a 9+ marbling score is balanced with tomato miso, daikon ponzu and sansho pepper. Lamb cutlets are served with aji amarillo (yellow chilli), while jalapeno dressing and feta accompany chargrilled zucchini. There’s also black Angus beef tenderloin served with foie gras and honey-garlic soy, as well as free-range chicken breast with garlic miso and an onsen tamago (slow-cooked egg).

The wine list spans Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and cocktails include the Kyoto Protocol, made from green sake, Japanese vodka, lime juice, kiwi and cucumber, and the Kazan, a take on a citrusy Sgroppino featuring yuzu, lychee, umeshu rum and Japanese vodka.

Delicacy in the menu doesn’t preclude drama in the venue. The open kitchen mimics a Noh theatre stage. It’s partly out of necessity – architects had to work around the heritage-listed Harry Seidler design. The raised kitchen is topped by a roof of geometric kumiko-inspired joinery (assembled without nails) that looks like a tree canopy. Banquette seating and leather chairs echo the elegant curves of the room, and a private dining room is decorated with a sculptural hanging glass feature that mimics falling autumn leaves.

Considering Inka’s success in Canberra, it might have made sense to open a Sydney version before doing something like Kazan. Yoo says while they’re actively looking for a home for the Sydney Inka, 25 Martin Place wasn’t the right one.

“Inka in Canberra is such a visual explosion. When we do Inka in Sydney – and we’re already looking at sites – we want lots of space to make a big impact. This wasn’t the space for that. Kazan is intimate, it’s finer.”

Kazan Dining
Level 8.01, 25 Martin Place, Sydney

Tue to Sat 12pm–3pm; 5.30pm–10.30pm