Chances are if you have a Japanese background you’ve already heard about Yakitori Jin. The tiny Haberfield restaurant has been open for less than a month but it’s already packed with Japanese ex-pats who’ve heard it might be serving the most authentic yakitori in town.
“I want to show people Japanese izakaya culture from Osaka,” says Akihito Marui, the chef and co-owner. Marui got involved in the project after his uncle Jimmy Kim, a former local sushi joint owner, wanted to open an izakaya. “A long time ago my uncle asked me ‘please study yakitori in Japan and then come back’.”
After working in Torikizoku (one of Japan’s most famous yakitori chains) for several years, Marui returned to help run Yakitori Jin. The menu reflects the izakayas of Osaka, with skewers of chicken cuts that are almost unheard of here but are essential to the culture. “Japanese people love the rare cuts. Tail, neck, outside skirt, artery, innards,” says Marui. “I take them off the chicken bones every morning.”
All the skewers are roasted over organic mangrove charcoals on yakidai (Japanese grilling tables) custom-built in Osaka. The tare sauce used is a master stock Marui’s been working with since day one. “It's chicken fat, sake, mirin, soy sauce and brown sugar. Every day I use it. It ages. Tomorrow's is better than today.”
There’s also udon soups, homemade gyoza (a rare find in Sydney) and home-style dishes like kani tenshin han (a thick chicken soup containing Alaskan crab and rice).
Naturally, all dishes come with the other staple of izakaya dining – high-end alcohol, plus beer. “We serve Asahi on tap. Japanese must start with beer. Fresh tap beer is best with yakitori,” says Marui. Further into the night it’s premium sake, aged Japanese whisky, homemade plum wine and shōchū (a mid-strength spirit quite like Korean soju).
The venue looks the part. The two owners have refitted the space completely to mimic izakayas in their hometown. The bar is set so diners peer over the grill, sake bottles line the wall and yakitori is plated upon dishes from Osaka. Timber details make the restaurant look older than it is and handwritten “specials” (most in Japanese) share the wall with an old map of Osaka.
101 Ramsay Street, Haberfield
(02) 8057 2780
Tue to Thu 5pm–10pm
Fri to Sat 12pm–2.30pm, 5pm–10pm
Sun 12pm–2.30pm, 5pm–10pm