Opened (and actually built) by the team behind Manly’s Chica Bonita (co-owner Luke Miller is a former builder), Sunset Sabi is a venue for anyone who wants to live like a Manlysider for a few hours.
“It’s designed to fit in with the existing culture,” says co-owner Sean Miller. “When people walk in we know their name, what they do, what they’ve been up to this week. We want to be a familiar face and a comfortable place to drop into, but still serve great quality food.”
The menu is modern Japanese, with a focus on good produce and unexpected flavour combinations. It’s clean, fresh and tasty.
“The aim for us was to make something people would be a bit surprised by. For example, if we make sashimi, we’re not just throwing fish on a plate. We’re going to do something more fun with it,” says Miller.
At Sunset Sabi, “something more fun” translates to fresh salmon sashimi on a slick of jalapeño cream with crisp white onion, tomato and baby shiso, or thin slices of seared tuna with garlic chips in a ponzu sauce.
“We’re trying to take what we’ve learned from Chica Bonita, which is that people love that style of communal eating. It’s izakaya style, [but] definitely not traditional at all,” says Miller.
Conventional Japanese dishes such as karaage are given a kick with a togarsahi, kombu and buttermilk marinade, fried until crunchy, seasoned with Szechuan spice and served with ponzu cream. Then there’s the caramel popcorn, covered in hard-set caramel, tossed through toasted buckwheat furikake and togarashi. As head chef Ian King (also formerly of Chica Bonita and Byron Bay’s Roadhouse) puts it, “It’s spicy, nutty, salty, sweet and seaweedy. You can’t stop eating it … And as soon as you do, you need a beer.”
Alongside hand-picked wines, sakes and beer, there’s a quirky cocktail menu with “some wild things, some classics and some bar pounders that customers can drain all night long without breaking the bank,” says Miller. Try the Sabirita, with Arette blanco tequila and triple sec with yuzu, lime, agave and wasabi.
The fit-out plays up a juxtaposition of clean, cold and minimal textures against raw, organic timbers and soft blue furnishings.
All the furniture is by local design studio Exit Eighty Six, which also helped design the bar top, and an outdoor courtyard is in the works for summer. In the meantime, head over and soak up some local vibes, no matter which side of the bridge you’re from.
26 Pittwater Road, Manly
(02) 9977 7461
Tue to Sun Bar open from 4pm–11pm
Dinner from 6pm–11pm
Sat & Sun lunch from 11.30am