There’s a ramen dish in Sydney with a large piece of ox-tail in it, a scattering of coriander on top and it smells like a peppery pho. It’s part Japanese, part Spanish, part Hawaiian and only found in one place – Spanish Sakaba.
The creator of the dish is Iwao Yamanishi, the chef and restaurateur last seen at Big Stone Tapas, North Sydney’s former Spanish-Japanese fusion joint. But Spanish Sakaba isn’t a fusion restaurant, even if it marries sakaba-style (a more family-orientated version of izakaya) dining and Spanish tapas. Some dishes are an obvious blend of the two cuisines, such as the sushi-rice paella, but most are either typical tapas or sakaba dishes.
Some tables will have a sangria jug, a plate of yakitori skewers and raw beef tataki with dashi jelly. Others will sport chorizo, croquettes and sake. There’s also a short menu of modern sushi, Spanish and local wines by the glass and even gin-based slushy cocktails. And a shoju, soda water and a Gari Gari (a popular Japanese ice-cream brand) icy pole.
There are Showa-period posters and a grey-blue colour scheme with Catalan tiles on the wall, resulting in a vibe somewhere between late-night drinks-and-snacks and a family restaurant.
During the day come for a soft-bun beef-katsu burger or a bowl of ramen, either the saimin-inspired (a Hawaiian dashi-based noodle soup) oxtail broth or one of the specials, such as a rich chicken and Iberico ham creation served with fermented garlic and peppery yuzu-paste.