Newcastle's first Yakitori Bar celebrates fire and Hunter produce
A new type of dining and cocktail experience has just landed in Newcastle and it’s a fiery one.
Situated on the Honeysuckle Boardwalk overlooking Newcastle Harbour, right next door to Nagisa, Âpé Yakitori Bar (pronounced Ar-Pay) is Newcastle’s first Yakitori restaurant and is the long awaited edition to the team's now trilogy of Japanese inspired restaurants, and their most ambitious yet.
Speaking with part owner Taiyo Namba he explained why this project has been so important to him,
“I’ve been wanting to open a Yakitori bar for a long time, there’s something special about just being able to only concentrate on cooking over charcoal.”
“There’s nothing to dress it up or down and luckily the concept of Yakitori aligns well with working together with good produce. Creating a restaurant that showcases only Hunter produce, which isn’t always easy to do, has been something I've been working towards for a long time, and I am really happy we got there.”
“Much of the ethos behind the restaurant and it’s name is derived from the Ainu language - the indigenous people of Hokkaido and the northern islands of Japan."
"In Ainu language Âpé means fire so having a fire/charcoal element in the heart of Âpé celebrates that.”
Taiyo went onto explain, “I found a PHD written about the Ainu people and it was based on fire being at the centre of their culture and fire considered a god. Similar to many early civilizations, fire was at the heart of their existence, it's where you did your cooking, it kept you warm, it protected your family and it was never turned off.”
Browsing the menu, as Taiyo explained, Hunter produce is on full display with the best local supplies showcased at their best,
“The entire menu is cooked over charcoal, except for a few sides and sauces, which can prove challenging and we may have to make some adjustments but this style of cooking allows us to celebrate the seasons which isn’t always easy to do, but it’s what we should be doing.”
When it comes to deciding where to sit, you can of course take the boardwalk outdoor option and sit harbourside. Inside there is the bench style seating, or for diners who prefer to be amongst the kitchen action, take a seat at the Yakitori grill to experience all the kitchen theatre.
Be mesmerized at the cooking over charcoal and yakitori techniques which Head Chef Nicolas Pedemonte and the team have spent hours perfecting, and gain deeper knowledge around the seasonal produce featured throughout the menu.
In addition to the dining area, Âpé has a small but dedicated bar space which lends beautifully to pre and/or post dinner drinks with the extensive menu of whisky, wine and beers more than likely extending your stay.
For cocktail lovers it could become your new go-to with the Japanese inspired menu curated by Chris Wilson from The Koutestsu, and is best described by Taiyo as a “smashing one”.
As with all the restaurants Taiyo and his team produce, the fitout and interior selections tell a story, and are equally as important as what is served on your plate. Working again with Ben Berwick from Prevalent Architecture, Âpé is industrial with nightclub vibes. The low wattage, overhead lighting gently lifts guests from the darkness providing an intimate but edgy dining experience and merges Âpé's central theme of fire being heat and light.
Interior selections are varied but all with a carbon neutral theme in mind from the stone benchtops and joinery, all made of 100% recycled material, the leather seating made from discarded pineapple leaves. Even the curtain material selected was 100% sustainably sourced wool.
Ben goes onto detail, "Beyond the product selections, where possible we used carbon neutral shipping and transport was utilised. Materials in the project have also been left uncoated, or coated with low VOC sealants where required by Australian Standards. Lighting is low wattage, and energy sources are sustainable".
The highly anticipated Âpé Yakitori Bar may have been a long time coming, but has been more than worth the wait. Book your seat today!