Inspired by the Japanese Yebisu beer, one of the country’s oldest brands, which was founded back in 1887, this tapas-style sake bar is the third instalment from the team behind Neutral Bay and Pyrmont’s Sushi Samurai.
Unlike the mystique of its former occupant, this vibrant space features neon-lit signs, luminous paper lanterns and bare bricks scrawled with bright graffiti art. While the counter seating offers a view to the open kitchen, the dining room is characterised by dark timber tones and a wall dedicated to a Maneki-neko (the Japanese figurine of a waving cat) and towering sake bottles, served from an airline-like trolley at night.
With over 100 dishes to choose from, ordering from the iPad touch screens is a novelty in itself. Lunch focuses on affordable sets, all complemented with miso soup, salmon sashimi, pickles and salad. Yakitori chicken is served with a poached egg and a generous amount of sesame oil.
To take advantage of the grill, head here for dinner to share skewers of salmon belly, shiitake mushroom and yakitori chicken skin. Classics like agedashi eggplant, pan-fried pork gyoza and prawn tempura also feature. On cooler nights, sample hot pots with chicken meatballs or Inaniwa udon noodles (a thin type from Japan’s Akita region). Dessert offers playful plates of green tea Kyoto cheesecake, doughnut ball skewers, cream puffs with assorted fillings and candied sweet potato.
While the wait may be perturbing at night, Yebisu is an ideal informal late night dining spot with last orders taken at 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights.