With some smart design, it really feels like you could be in Japan. Stepping through an opening in a corrugated iron wall (and out of torrential rains), there are a few low tables, a number of high tables surrounded by colourful neon signs, and a few normal tables.
There’s a huge screen playing trippy Japanese commercials. The young, personable Japanese staff rush around to make sure you’re fed and watered.
From our view, at a low table near the entrance, looking out the doorway, we could imagine being in a bar in Osaka or Tokyo.
I mean, the space wouldn’t be so large (and the kitchen and bar are big) in Japan, but we loved the vibe.
Hot sake was perfect for a night like this and we matched it with a whole bunch of small dishes, Izakaya.
Not a bad philosophy really, food to go with drinking, rather than a drink to go with a meal.
Edamame. A flat omelette.
Octopus karaage. Chicken karaage. Gyoza.
The one that stood out was a pickled mackerel, delicate with some texture, but just the right amount of ginger and vinegar to offset the fat-laden flesh. A beautiful dish.
The others were pretty regular fare, really, nothing special, but we liked the place so much, we didn’t care much. We’ll be back.
Like life itself Nakano Darling is a balancing act. Is it a part of japan magically transported to Sydney? Or is it a Disneyworld fake experience.
The Duke of Clarence suffers the same question. Is it really a London pub.
I used to visit Japan for work in the bubble years. They were incredible and incredibly expensive times That burned deep in the consciousness of a young man.
Nights of phenomenally expensive meals with clients, of dancing in Julianas, of Rapongi clubs, and nights that always seemed to end in a tiny, refrigerator sized Izakaya. Jostling shoulder to shoulder with salaryman who should have gone home hours ago. Bizarre conversations shouted above the noise.
I am not sure if I loved the bubble atmosphere. The last days of Rome. The hard drinking and to hell with it all. Or maybe I was in love with being young and having fun.
I married a Japanese girl. We live near Nakano Darling and go often. Sometimes for a few seconds it is the late 80s.
I like it.
I *love* this review of Nakano Darling. You should have your own blog with stories like this one!