Since opening in 2019, Darling Square has become one of Sydney’s most popular food precincts, with eateries including Gelato Messina, high-end 10-seater Kuon Omakase and Chase Kojima’s Simulation Senpai.
Now joining the scene is Tsukiyo, a modest, neon-lit store serving Japanese street food on Little Hay Street.
It’s the new venture from Devon Hospitality Group and Hakatamon Ramen chef Hidetoshi Tsuboi. Tsukiyo, meaning “moonlit night” in Japanese, recreates the flavours of Osaka’s Dotonbori district, famous for its towering neon signs and street food eats.
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Tsuboi, who’s known Devon Hospitality Group co-owners Noni Widjaja and Derek Puah for many years, says they’ve been discussing a collaboration for some time. When a space directly across from Devon’s Dopa Donburi and Milkbar became available, they jumped at the opportunity.
The store revolves around three iconic Japanese street snacks: takoyaki, savoury octopus balls encased in crispy golden batter; taiyaki, a traditional fish-shaped waffle pastry, typically filled with red bean paste; and a sando with fresh fruits and whipped cream.
While Tsuboi’s menu is grounded in Osaka’s street-food traditions, the chefs of Devon add their interpretations too.
“It’s important for the dish to be as authentic as possible, especially for the Japanese community, but they only make up about five per cent of our customers,” Tsuboi tells Broadsheet. “So adding Devon’s interpretation of the dish is crucial.”
Group pastry chef Markus Andrew says he takes inspiration from the taiyaki he had on his own visits to Japan. Tsukiyo’s taiyaki batter has an “old-school touch,” he says. Flavours include the original red bean, as well as vanilla custard, chestnut custard, and Gruyere cheese and ham.
“It’s important to stick to the roots,” says Andrew. “But we also want to add a bit of flair.”
While the original takoyaki is filled with octopus and served with takoyaki sauce, bonito flakes and kewpie mayonnaise, the team has added a few twists – you can choose from Barcelona (chorizo and potato straws), Tsukiji (crispy soft-shell crab) and Surf and Turf (charred pork belly and crispy pork skin).
The fruit sando is essentially a dessert sandwich, with fresh fruits and Calpis whipped cream between two slices of Japanese milk bread. It’s not as sweet as cake, but it’s just as palate-cleansing after your salty takoyaki.
“We hope that customers will pick up our snacks, walk along the beautiful lanes of Darling Square and enjoy the atmosphere, almost like walking along the streets of Osaka,” Tsuboi says.