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Published December 17th 2014
For lovers of Japanese Izakaya
An izakaya is a type of Japanese sake house that serves causal bar food to accompany the drinks. Japanese-style izakaya is becoming very popular in Sydney as an alternative venue for after-work drinks.
Sharak is a relatively new Japanese izakaya establishment located in the heart of Sydney CBD. It offers a range of traditional and modern take on Japanese dishes and it has three floors of dining area.
Allow me to tell you about this little izakaya gem I've experienced just recently.
It was a stormy day in Sydney and the end-of-the-year deadlines added extra dreary and heaviness to every city worker. We arrived late to dinner because we clocked in some overtimes back at the office.
Sharak looked homely and comfortable with its down-to-earth wooden decors. We were greeted warmly by the host and waitresses and we were led to a quiet spacious table at the back. Once we settled in, a bottle of water and a complementary appetizer appeared straight away.
It was an exhausting day for me so I ordered a glass of Ikezo Jelly Sparkling Berry Mix cocktail ($8) to start the evening.
This sparkling sake cocktail has a sweet taste in mixed berry flavour. It tasted like jell-o with a hint of sake. It was very easy to drink and it looked remarkably pretty in pink.
Sharak adopted a touch-screen order system similar to Mizuya. We took our time to browse through all the interesting but not too overwhelming menus. The small plates menu meant we could sample many dishes without breaking the bank. The price looked very reasonable, ranging from $7 to $18.50.
They were elegantly served on a glittering golden plate. The edges of these wagyu beef were lightly seared while the centre remained very blue. They tasted refreshing with grounded raddish and ponzu sauce.
My friend's Choya Kokuto Umeshu (black sugar plum wine) was the standout for me. It looked like it was served out of a whisky glass with rock ice. This plum wine was beautifully blended with Japanese plum, brown sugar, rum and black vinegar and it delivered a rich, sweet and smoky taste. This golden liqueur looked mesmerizing and it was perfect on a humid Summer night.
My friend actually enjoyed my Aragoshi Umeshu plum wine more than her drink. It was an unfiltered Umeshu made with sake rice wine with a lot of ripe plum. It tasted very fruity sweet and very easy to drink.
Need less to say, we swapped drinks.
With lovely drinks in our hands, we could not resist but to order the Grilled Duck ($18.00) which was the chef's special for the night.
The duck was very tasty, succulent and buttery soft. My friend enjoyed it a lot.
We also ordered a grilled king fish head ($11.50). It was an unusual dish to have but the presentation and the taste was exquisite. I was skeptical at first and thought they sounded rather odd but am now convinced.
Similar to beef cheek, the king fish's cheek flesh tasted very tender but limited in quantity. The king fish's skin was grilled to crisp and the meat remained fresh and supple. It was beautifully flavoured with salt.
It was the highlight dish of the evening and it certainly exceeded my expectations.
The novelty dish for the night was the Takoyaki Cheese Bake ($9.50).
These traditional Osaka-style baked octopus pancake balls were served in a sizzling clay pot with delicious Sharak's special sauce and covered with melted mozzarella cheese. The taste was sweet, tangy and salty all at once. Takoyaki lovers will love this ingenuous balance of flavours.
If you're looking for an interesting restaurant/bar to relax after work or if you are keen to try some exotic Japanese sake, Sharak is a good choice.