The tiny restaurant has no menu, no waiters and no tables. Simply two chefs and eight seats at the edge of the kitchen, allowing some of the best produce in Sydney to shine – all of which is cooked however the chef decides.
Owner and head chef Raita Noda came up with the idea for his Surry Hills restaurant, Raita Noda Chef's Kitchen, when running Ocean Room, a former fine diner at the International Terminal in Circular Quay. “After 10 years as executive chef, I was always thinking and questioning myself ‘What does a restaurant mean to all the chefs?’, and ‘What do I want to do as a chef?' The concept I reached was to minimise but keep the high-quality produce for food and beverage,” he says.
Instead of compromising his vision for quality and creativity, Noda reduced other elements. The intimate size of his restaurant, a simple fit-out, having essentially no staff, and not giving customers options. Everything at Raita Noda Chef's Kitchen is focused on the produce and its delivery.
Each night sees 10 courses meticulously, and sometimes experimentally, prepared and delivered across several hours. The focus is almost always seafood. All the seafood Noda gets is delivered daily by one supplier, Naruto Ishii from Pyrmont Seafood. “He is definitely the best buyer in Sydney at the moment. He also supplies for the majority of Japanese restaurants in Sydney,” says Noda. “His artisan spirit is to only supply the best products for the chef who knows how to handle it correctly.”
That’s why when Noda makes an order he only tells him the portion or amount he needs, and leaves the rest up to him. "We have no idea what we get delivered until we actually open the delivered box,” he says. It’s the perfect expression of seasonality.
What to expect from each of the dishes is down to Noda and his son Momotaro’s whim on the day. But it will be of meticulous high quality. Some more recognisable seafood may be semi-cured or torched, then prepared traditionally with light Japanese seasoning, other less recognisable fish may be drizzled with anything from finger lime caviar and olive oil to tomato granita.
Everything is done in-house by Noda and his son, right in front of the restaurant’s eight seats. Noda describes it as quintessentially Japanese in process but Australian in flavour. “I have never thought of creating a Japanese fusion,” he says. “I just decided to create a Japanese creation structured by using natural grown Australian ingredients.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Kirin and its unique “First Press” brewing technique.