Where to find the best Japanese food in Sydney: Sharak Izakaya

Here in Australia we’re really spoiled for choice in terms of Japanese restaurants. We’ve got sushi bars, saki lounges, ramen shops, Japanese barbecue houses. But the latest thing to hit our streets is the long awaited izakaya craze.

Mr and Mrs Romance - Sharak Izakaya Sydney

Unfortunately this venue no longer exists. Please check out our other Sydney restaurant reviews here.

An izakaya is a bit like a Japanese pub. They’re usually very small – the ones we explored in Kyoto, one of Japan’s oldest cities, were incredibly small. Some had enough room for half a dozen people no more.

But big or small, old or new, izakaya in Japan are always such cool places to sit, take a drink and perhaps have a bite to eat. We’ve got so many funny stories of when we were in Japan a while ago, of sitting in an izakaya talking to the locals – us with no Japanese skills, the locals with no English, but everyone having a good laugh.

Sharak Izakaya, Sydney’s latest answer to this uniquely Japanese experience, is right in the city’s burgeoning Asian food district of World Square.

Typically Japanese, this place doesn’t look like much from the outside at street level, but inside is tardis-like and does in fact take up three stories.

Sharak Izakaya Sydney

We went up to the top floor in the glass lift (no Wonka comments, thank you) and took our seats in our private bamboo-clad booth.

Every table on every floor is equipped with a touchscreen menu where you can order as much as you like and the wait staff bring it to you faster than you can tap you requests! You can also ask for the bill on these screens, which is an excellent idea.

It’s an extensive menu at Sharak. True to its izakaya roots, most of the food here is tapas style in that you get lots of little plates to share.

Mr and Mrs Romance - Sharak Izakaya Sydney 4

We were here for dinner so we ordered five or six dishes:

The slow-braised pork belly cooked in a soy and mirin broth

Perfectly pull-apart tender, this was a delicious dish. I was amazed I could eat this with chopsticks. I ended up drinking the broth with a spoon the waiter had thoughtfully supplied.

Mr and Mrs Romance - Sharak Izakaya Sydney 6

The deep-fried eggplant pieces served with a sweet blueberry miso

Crisp on the outside, gooey and tender in the middle this was an excellent dish. The blueberry miso was surprisingly savoury, and worked well with the eggplant.

Mr and Mrs Romance - Sharak Izakaya Sydney 8

The slow-cooked ox tongue in a tomato paste, hachyo miso and soy broth

Potentially confronting, this is served in 3mm slices and is the most tender meat you’ll eat. The broth is thick and hearty, and makes for a generously portioned dish.

The deep-fried prawns with wasabi mayo

These are like school prawns, so you eat the whole thing. You get quite a few too, so this is a good-value dish. And yes, incredibly tasty too!

Mr and Mrs Romance - Sharak Izakaya Sydney 7

The unagi nigiri eel sushi

Juicy marinated grilled eel pieces on beds of sushi rice. If you don’t like the sound of eel, its real name is unagi. Much better isn’t it. You only get three pieces of this, but it’s so tasty, and you get a good sized piece of fish on each serving.

Mr and Mrs Romance - Sharak Izakaya Sydney 3

The Hokkaido scallop and the volcano sushi

The scallop are seared and served with a Japanese sauce and the volcano sushi is more of an avalanche of fish, roe, sauce and flavour. However, though these were tasty, we probably wouldn’t order them again for the price.

Mr and Mrs Romance - Sharak Izakaya Sydney 1

The food here is a little expensive – as it is in most izakaya in Japan – but my god it’s good!

The drinks lists, however, are full of savings. Especially the cocktails. Mrs Romance had an Umenoyado Yuzushu citrus sake drink that was delicious and only $8.

I went for a Japanese craft rice beer (rice beer?) and absolutely loved it. If you ever see an Echigo Koshihikari beer on the menu anywhere, buy it.

Mr and Mrs Romance - Sharak Izakaya Sydney 5

I also tried the restaurant’s special sake ‘Mellowed Kozuru’. It’s aged in oak casks for 10 years and comes out tasting like a very fine scotch. It’s $25 a (large) measure, but it’s very very good.

This is a great date night location for somewhere different to eat. I’d eat everything we ordered tonight again in a heartbeat, and I’m sure the other things on the menu are great too.

Our hot tip: ask to sit on the top floor when you book; the booths are nice and private.

Sharak Izakaya Sydney - Top floor bar

Sharak Izakaya

Open: Mon-Fri: 11.30am – 3.00pm then 5.30pm – 1.00am; Sat: 5.30pm – 1.00am; Sun: 5.30pm – 10.00pm

371 Pitt Street
NSW 2000
T: 02 8084 3341
W: Sharak.com.au
Fb: @sharakizakaya

Mr and Mrs Romance - Sharak Izakaya Sydney 2

What’s your favourite Japanese dish? Do you have a favourite Japanese restaurant? Tell us in the comments!

Images by Mrs Romance.


  • Reply September 17, 2014

    Nick Deane

    The deep-fried prawns with wasabi mayo look ohhh so good and the Japanese beer is calling my name. The photos are fantastic and gives you a great sense of the Sharak Izakaya experience. Keep the great posts coming!

    • Reply September 17, 2014

      Mr Romance

      Those prawns were incredible, Nick! One of those ‘what would you order for your last meal’ type dishes! And yes, I’m keeping my eyes open for that beer next time I’m in a liquor store for sure!

  • Reply December 15, 2014


    Thanks for the review! Been trying to look for a more authentic izakaya, got them cravings!!
    However you wrote izakaya can be exspensive in Japan, not necessarily you just have to find the right places 😉 there are many that do ¥280 for everything. There is one in iidabashi where everything is the same price including beer and spirits. 🙂

    • Reply December 18, 2014

      Mr Romance

      Hi Angela. Yes, this izakaya’s pretty good. Definitely worth a look-in if you’ve got them cravings (I know exactly where you’re coming from!). Thanks for the tip on better-value izakaya in Japan. I wonder if we were just in the really touristy spots where prices are bound to be higher. Will bear the Iidabashi one in mind for our next trip over (I hope it’s really soon!) – sounds like a bargain place!
      Cheers – or perhaps kampai!

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