Friday, December 16, 2011

Mihana: Secret izakaya business

On a quiet street in Crows Nest, the unassuming shopfront of Mihana Dining and Sake Bar hides a secret. Push past the traditional entrance into a long, dim dining room and it's obvious.

With high seats at the bar and group seating alongside, you know you've entered some secret Japanese izakaya, where slightly inebriated Japanese salarymen wouldn't at all look out of place.

Teapot at Mihana Dining and Sake Bar, Falcon Street, Crows Nest
It was eerily quiet inside the restaurant, apart from some ambient Japanese music while the formal service added to the overall feel that we'd just stepped in from the street into a rather large Tokyo bar.

Atop the bar were plates of Japanese home style dishes that are served as is onto smaller serves, but seeking a post drinking session bite, we looked to the menu of snacks and essentially drinking food. A bit of a shame really, given the impressive bar and selection of sake on offer.

Seated at the bar near the kitchen, we could hear the noises of sizzling as our food was prepared. The ever-polite staff seemed busy arranging tagged bottles in a cabinet; bottles of half drunken whiskies mostly, awaiting the return of their owners, safely behind glass doors.

The pork filled gyoza were a fine example of their kind; their long-ish, crisp-skinned bottoms and meaty innards disappearing before they'd had even a chance to cool down.

Chicken thigh yakitori
There is no better drinking food than yakitori grilled skewers, usually of meat. They're salty, smoky, protein-rich and all things that should be associated with boozing (even though we'd done ours earlier).

Chicken breast meat, while healthier, lacks the flavour of thigh meat for the very same reason. The fat, and sometimes 'red' flesh, of the thigh provides flavours and texture while the sweet and umami-full yakitori sauce finishes the job.

Chicken skin (back) and chicken wing (front) yakitori
My favourite yakitori would probably have to be chicken wings - it's got it all: skin, flesh and bone. And with golden and crisped salted skin like this, it's hard not to sink your teeth straight into these wings, however piping hot off the grill they are.

The more exotic, and almost pure fat, choice is the chicken skin. Threaded onto a skewer in concertina fashion, the simply salted skin is grilled to a fatty crisp and is just that in every bite: fatty and crispy. Definitely one for chicken skin lovers.

As we cleaned our last skewer, a small group of Japanese men had sat down at one of the tables. Straight away, a tagged bottle came out of the cabinet and cans of Japanese beer made their way to the table. There was laughter in their ruddy faces as they ordered some dishes from the bar top options. It was proper izakaya-style drinking and eating and it was no secret that the night was still young.

Mihana Dining and Sake Bar on Urbanspoon


john@heneedsfood said...

I like the sound of this place. Pity it isn't in my neighbourhood!

MissPiggy said...

Wow, so this is almost like a real Izakaya...I had no idea such a thing existed in Sydney. Good find.

chocolatesuze said...

chicken skin skewer!!!

Tina said...

Hi Miss Piggy - Such a great place that feels so authentic too

Hi Suze - The best!


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