Hideto Suzuki is Sydney ramen royalty. His work at Manpuku and Neutral Bay’s Ichibandori has given the city some of its most creative and complex ramen. But since leaving Ichibandori last year, he’s been without a kitchen – until now.
Welcome to Sekka, a new eatery by Suzuki and business partner Libras Ting. The half-ramen-diner half-izakaya opened on June 16, and draws inspiration from Suzuki’s home state.
“The name ‘Sekka’ means ‘snow flower’ in Japanese,” Suzuki tells Broadsheet. “In Akita prefecture, where I’m from [in the mountainous north], it gets quite cold in the night, so people love to go out to eat at places [with dishes] that are warm, tasty and a little richer in flavour than the food you would find in Tokyo. So this is the direction with the food that we want to aim for – a more region-focused, casual space.”
Aesthetically, the interior doesn’t quite match that description yet. The diner is part of a new residential development, and with dim lighting, concrete textures and velvet furniture, the look is quite modern, even a little corporate. Ting tells us to expect changes here, explaining that the design budget changed drastically due to coronavirus-related pressures.
That’s not the only change to come. Right now, the restaurant is in a soft-opening phase – Ting and Suzuki are taking some time to evaluate the industry and the public’s attitude.
“It's been very tricky to navigate because of the restrictions, staffing has been a problem,” says Ting. “Our menus will progressively evolve as our team gets used to the new space. We are starting with ramen and snacks, and will look into creating our yakitori and dinner menu as soon as we can.”
What that means for you is more ramen and less izakaya-style food for now. The latest menu features three ramens: a Kyushu-style tonkotsu made with pork jowl, pig head and marrow-filled pork bones; a chintan (clear broth) chicken ramen with salty shio seasoning; and another chintan broth seasoned with garlic and chives. Suzuki will gradually add more original ramens as the restaurant evolves. There are also some typical izakaya snacks – karaage chicken with yuzu mayo; pork gyoza; edamame; and lotus-root chips.
“We don't consider ourselves to be either traditional or innovative,” says Suzuki. “Our cuisine is umami-focused, [we want] a taste that is clean but full of flavour. We do experiment a lot, but more than anything, we want to create a flavour that we would enjoy if we were the customer.”
Shop 1, St Leonards Square, 472–488 Pacific Highway, St Leonards
(02) 8054 9788
Tue to Thu 5.30pm–9.30pm
Fri & Sat 5.30pm–10pm