Itís all things Japanese at Tokyo Bird from the food and whisky, to the beer and service. Even the location tends to follow the Japanese custom of being down an alley in what seems to be a quiet part of town. This is also part of a wider trend in lower Surry Hills when some of best restaurants and bars are hiding amongst quiet commercial buildings: enter under the shingle on Belmore lane.
The most impressive aspect here is the sheer range of Japanese whiskies. You could attempt to taste all of 100 or so whiskies from young to old, but that would a big commitment. Assuming thatís your objective, by the end the new additions from boutique and commercial distillers would have arrived, leaving you chasing a moving target and adding more reasons to return. Despite it being the best Japanese whiskey bar in Sydney, there are a lot more reasons to visit. If you want something a little different, hit the sake menu that features around a dozen choices of Japanís finest or try some of the seasonal cocktails where whisky, unsurprisingly, is heavily featured. Beer drinkers can rejoice too as Asahi is on tap, or you can try the much rarer Asahi Super Dry Black Draught and for the more unusual, try the Echigo Koshihikari Rice Lager.
Donít worry too much about having all this fun on an empty stomach. The Izakaya-style food makes the perfect accompaniment. Although not Tokyo Birdís strongest point, the menu features yakitori. Some dishes can feel a little underdone: missing the crisp and smoky taste normally expected with this style of food. Dishes like the wings seemed to be cooked in an oven and while nice, they lack the crispy texture and salty punchiness. Even the crispy chicken skin could be a lot crispier. Also on the food side, service can seem a little hap-hazard at times. Small gripes aside, there is no mistaking the intimate and friendly feel of the venue. Low lighting, black tile walls, smiles all round from the bar staff make you feel like youíve been a regular for years, even on your first visit. The only thing missing is Karaoke, which may be considered a blessing by some.
In brief: Tokyo BirdBest things: huge range of whisky and the general all-round Japansesy feel. Don't miss: Gawking at all 100+ whisky options, then asking for the one that best suits your palate Ideal for: Small groups, catch-ups with friends, dates Date tip: It can be a little tricky finding a cosy spot. The lounge to the left as you enter is your best bet, or the bar. If itís cold outside, stay away from the windows and door as it can be chilly. Gripes: The food sometimes misses the mark and near the door and windows it gets a little cold in winter. Rating: 8/10
Last updated: November 2016
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