Hidden down a quiet Pyrmont street, Nodaya Dining Bar is a small venue that fits only 20 people but serves close to 60 varieties of carefully selected Japanese whisky – from the well-established Suntory and Nikka distilleries, to the hugely popular Chichibu and Helios distilleries.
For almost 30 years, Nodaya Dining Bar’s owner, Hiro Noda and his family, successfully operated Japanese hostess bar Crescent, first in Potts Point, and then on George Street in the CBD. But, with business travellers from Japan forming the bulk of the bar’s clientele, and the majority of its hostesses made up of international students and working holiday makers, the business needed a quick Covid-19 remodel.
So Noda harnessed his ample knowledge of Japanese whisky, and his love for serving customers, to open Nodaya Dining Bar. And this time, his younger brother and renowned chef Raita Noda – known for his omakase-style, self-titled restaurant in Surry Hills – has come on board.
Raita has developed a menu of small plates to accompany the whisky journey, from his signature Cajun-spiced soft-shell crab tacos, to flame-grilled scallop aburi with ume vinaigrette, Wagyu kare-pan (crisped bread filled with Wagyu curry) and hojicha (green tea) creme brulee to finish.
“[The] chemistry of dish and beverage is absolute, one cannot consider one without the other,” Raita tells Broadsheet. “And it is this very chemistry that will take you to another dimension.”
The art and knowledge of Japanese whisky originated in Scotland, but Japan has developed its own unique whiskies over time. Ever since Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 won the Jim Murray's World Whisky of the Year in 2015, demand for Japanese whisky has exploded worldwide.
“I’m on auction sites all the time,” says Hiro, of his hunt for the best whisky he can get his hands on.
If you are yet to try Japanese whisky, Nodaya’s tasting selection is a good place to start. Four varieties of whisky, including Suntory’s flagship single malt, Yamazaki single malt, and Nikka’s Taketsuru pure malt, are accompanied by a choice of Raita’s snacks, including his chilli cod roe with stracciatella and sourdough crust.
If you’re already well-versed in the art of Japanese whisky, there’s a slew of rare pours, including the 18-year-aged Yamazaki Single Malt Limited Edition, Taketsuru Pure Malt 21-year, and 12-, 17- and 21-year-aged Hibiki blends.
Nodaya also offers an omakase whisky experience, where Noda will take the lead. And there’s a selection of wines and champagnes from Australia, France and Spain, as well as sake, shochu and Japanese premium malt beer.
“I am here every day that we are open, ready to assist you, so that you can have the best experience of Japanese whiskies,” says Noda. “If I need a break? Well, I’ll have to close the shop.”
Wed to Sat 7pm–midnight