Chef Keita Abe (ex-Toko and Mamasan) looked around Sydney and saw a sushi joint on every main street and in every shopping centre.
His retort? Chaco Bar, an eatery modelled on the yakitori restaurants found in his native city of Fukuoka, Japan.
The dimly lit space opened in late 2014, with just 25 seats. Huge portraits of Japanese cooks are painted on the walls. The scent of grilling meat winds its way through the restaurant and out onto the street.
For the uninitiated, yakitori is skewers of grilled meat, and occasionally vegetables. Yaki means “grill” and tori means “bird”, so the literal translation is “grilled bird”. As in Japan, Chaco takes a whole-beast approach. Alongside common cuts such as pork belly and chicken wings, you’ll find Wagyu tongue, chicken hearts, tails, livers, heart pipes, gizzard and gristle.
Other grill highlights include spicy tuna-belly tataki with pig’s ear; and snapper sashimi with Tasmanian fresh truffle. Pair with a Kirin, Asahi or saké and you’re all set.
Between midday and 2pm from Wednesday to Saturday, Chaco also serves a good brothy ramen. Just make sure you get in quick – it’s limited to 30 bowls.