In addition to filling all the empty spaces on the George Street level, maintaining a Japanese theme; two vibrant eateries have joined previously lonesome Assembly Bar downstairs.
|Neon signs outside Yebisu Izakaya, Regent Place, George Street, Sydney|
Beneath the streetscape of colourful neon signs and paper lanterns, a long queue often forms outside the restaurant, waiting for tables.
Yebisu Izakaya is not an eat-and-run kind of eatery like the nearby Tenkomori ramen bar, so the fact that so many are prepared to wait, standing outside for up to an hour with naught to do and no call-back option, is intriguing.
|Counter seating at the open kitchen|
Once you've waited it out (or well-organised and cleverly made a reservation) you can get down to ordering immediately via their iPad menu, which includes photos and pricing across the extensive food options.
While this makes it super easy to get carried away with tapping and ordering food and drink, you also get to see a running bill which can see many small items add up pretty quickly.
|Sake served in a masu|
She was able to recommend me a dry sake (something with the kanji character for 'daughter' in it) which once ordered, would elicit bell ringing and celebrations (or congratulations, I'm not sure) from the kitchen and other staff, leaving the sake drinker feeling like quite the winner.
The waitress would then proceed to fill the sake glass, allowing it to overflow into the square masu container as a traditional gesture of generosity, and then input the drink into the table’s iPad ordering system.
|Grilled skewers of chicken giblets (left) and chicken skin (right)|
I know in Japan torikawa chicken skin is served folded onto the skewer as is done here, with the smooth, rubbery and fatty texture relished, but it’s just not my cup of tea so I just nibbled the blackened crisp bits where possible.
|Takoyaki served in crackers|
This was practical advice although the action unfortunately demonstrated the oiliness of the takoyaki, with copious amounts of oil oozing from the deep fried ball. In the end, it was really just an oily takoyaki and crackers.
|Grilled chicken wings|
|Grilled skewers of pork belly and chicken tsukune meatballs|
In atmosphere and fitout, and even on first glance of the menu, Yebisu Izakaya looks the part of a fun izakaya. But without the drinking crowd or the tasty, booze-soaking food to back it up, it’s a bit of a letdown with looks prevailing over substance.