There’s been a lot of comings and goings on the Elizabeth Street strip of late but perhaps the most talked about was the closure of Pashas and the Japanese restaurant that took it’s place. That restaurant is Bar Wa Izakaya which opened on the 23rd of June amidst a whirlwind of hype. Was this hype to be believed?
It’s an experienced team. Brothers Julian and Richard worked together for many years at The Republic Bar just up the road before opening this venue together. They’ve created a cosy and warm space, retaining many of the wooden features of Pashas while adding a lot of their own touches. A large bar dominates as you enter, with spirits stacked to the ceiling and inviting chairs all around. More intimate places can be found around the back, with tables and a heated outdoor area.
Let us start with the food.
Chasu Pork Jowl, marinated and braised, is great pub food. Sticky, slightly sweet and wonderfully fatty. It matches well with the Japanese beverages on offer. Like much on the menu it’s designed to be shared, and since dishes come out sporadically as they’re ready it’s certainly encouraged.
The pickled vegetables are a great counterpoint to the pork jowls being crisp, refreshing and refined in a light kombu dashi dressing. A lot more subtle than many other pickles, without the strong acidic bite usually associated with such offerings.
Oysters are served as a trio with three different flavours to choose from. Sainbazu (no I don’t know where that name comes from) sees them presented in a light yet richly flavoured sauce with strong umami. The Tempura ones come in a delicate batter served with fresh wasabi and radish. Happy hour runs from 4pm-6pm daily when they serve these up for $4.50 a plate making them some of the cheapest oysters in Hobart.
It would be unwise to advertise as a Japanese bar without Yakitori and these ones were great. The chicken is free range and the pork from Thornbury Farms, both juicy and tender. The third set of skewers changes nightly and I’d heard of some great combinations so it was a little disappointing to only find half a mushroom on each stick. Tasty, yes, but didn’t match the rest of the plate.
The gyoza are made in house, as is most of the menu. It’s traditional in a lot of ways but the individuality of the kitchen shines through setting it apart from similar venues.
The fried chicken is four very generous pieces of juicy and tender meat with variety of condiments. It’s a marvelous dish but it’s here where we look at the prices. $9 for such well cooked free range chicken is an absolute steal. The entire menu is incredible value for money encouraging you to stay and order more and more.
It’s not all share plates and there’s plenty to pop in for a quick lunch. Burgers, okonomiyaki and noodles all feature.
There were some teething issues. Service, while friendly, was somewhat disjointed with three different staff serving our table and not much communication between them. The drinks list is a work in progress with a good list of some fantastic wines available by the glass but only three sake are afforded the same. Many more are available by the bottle though and there is much here you won’t find elsewhere. It’ll sort these minor problems out quickly I’m sure.
Bar Wa Izakaya is a great addition to the strip and has the potential to dominate it when it finds its stride. I look forward to many more visits for a quick bite, long lunch, or after work drink.
216 Elizabeth St Hobart
Open from midday 7 days a week
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