Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Spanish Sakaba - Willoughby, Sydney

I feel like a fusion concept restaurant is so hard to pull off. But when done right, it can be the most amazing food haven in town. It’s not just about bringing styles and flavours from all over the globe together and mashing it into whatever. But you take inspirations from various cuisines and dish out a well-balanced creation. Willoughby Japanese/European/Hawaiian themed wine bar Spanish Sakaba has done just that.

I have come to know about Spanish Sakaba through Chef Haru Inukai who used to work alongside chef Iwao Yamanishi (owner and head chef of Spanish Sakaba). I would say Sakaba is more of a European/Hawaiian tapas and wine bar with Japanese influences rather than just an Izakaya. It reminds of themed wine bars common in Tokyo’s Shibuya area. According to Yamanishi-san, that’s exactly what he is going. I visited them along with the Cool Mac boys (Eugene and Jun) to try their ramen and burgers (only available during lunch time). 

Sakaba’s shoestring fries ($7.50) is like an okonomiyaki themed fries: Topped with kewpie mayo, otafuku sauce, aonori and shichimi pepper.

There are a few burgers on the menu: The wagyu beef burger, beef katsu burger, and a special twiced cooked pork belly burger. The wagyu beef burger ($12) was more of an old school milk bar style burger with wagyu beef blend patty, cheese pickles, lettuce and bbq sauce.

The beef katsu burger ($16) consists of deep fried crumbed fatty beef fillet, slaw and Japanese bbq sauce in a milk bun. The katsu was crisped on the outside and tender on the inside.

The weekly special twice cooked pork belly burger ($14.80) had crisped and tender chunks of fatty pork belly with Moorish spices like cumin and coriander seeds, a sweet-ish savoury caramel-like sauce and slaw in a soft milk bun.

Their oxtail ramen ($16.80) is a regular on the lunch menu. It’s a Hawaiian style ramen with medium thick noodles in a bold beef broth that was reminiscent of Vietnamese pho and Filipino beef nilaga (Braised beef hot pot). It was topped with coriander leaves, negi and braised fatty buttery ox tail meat. This dish is very Japanese in concept but with core Pacific island flavours.
Last but not least was my favourite, chicken ramen ($16.80) taken to another level. The broth was a chintan (light and clear) chicken soup with shio dashi tare. Every sip starts with a clean chicken flavour then followed by notes of bonito dashi. Topped with buttery pancetta and sous vide chicken chashu. The chicken chashu was slow cooked in dashi then served with volcano rock salt, which brought out extra umami from the chicken. The same noodles were used as the ox tail ramen. It was very refined and premium. Something that you would see at ramen shops in Tokyo like Mensho. It also comes with a yuzukoshio paste and confit garlic that you can add to the broth to add sweet, peppery and complex flavours.

He also does curry ramen and ox tongue ramen as a special every now and then. I’m now a fan of Chef Iwao’s work and I can’t wait to try the dinner menu next. 

Ramen Raff and the Cool Mac boys dinned as guests of Spanish Sakaba.

Spanish Sakaba
537 Willoughby Rd,
Willoughby NSW

Monday to Friday
Monday to Saturday

Closed Sunday and Public holidays

Spanish Sakaba Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

1 comment:

  1. My god, those burgers.... What a find Raff! The Katsu burger looks off the chain!


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