There are a few ways you could start a conversation about Ora. You could talk about the unexpected warehouse location among Waterloo’s showrooms and car dealerships. There’s also the design of the space, inspired by a Japanese legend. Or, you could get into how an appliance company ended up opening one of Sydney’s best Japanese restaurants.
It all comes down to Nobuyuki Ura. Over the 13 years Ura spent as executive chef of Sushi E, Winning Group CEO John Winning was one of his best customers and the pair often discussed opening a restaurant together. So, when Ura left Sushi E in 2019, he and Winning found a site on Danks Street in the home of Luke Mangan’s old eatery, just down the road from the Winning Appliances showroom.
The restaurant’s interior is inspired by Urashima Taro, a figure from Japanese folklore. Taro was a fisherman who travelled to an underwater palace, met a princess and, after what he thought was several days, returned to his village only to discover that 100 years had passed. Ora’s omakase bar is shaped like a whale’s mouth, echoing the fisherman’s undersea journey. The adjoining cocktail lounge is inspired by the design, art and music of ’80s Tokyo.
Ura’s menu is a mix of classic Japanese and modern techniques. Partaking in the omakase experience allows you to observe the chefs as they work methodically; slicing bluefin tuna, cuttlefish, kingfish belly, sea urchin and scampi into perfect marbled strips.
Beyond high-end sushi, nigiri and rolls from the raw bar, you can expect inventive starters like warm Hokkaido scallop with asparagus, roe and kombu miso. Follow with charcoal-fired yakitori skewers and hearty mains such as Ura’s favourite dish, the miso cod Patagonian toothfish. It’s marinated in sweet miso for three days to impart a deep umami flavour.
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