PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
They come for the tapas and wine, and stay for the ambience. A recent addition to the Neutral Bay dining scene, the aptly-named Japaz restaurant fuses Japanese izakaya with Spanish tapas, creating a delicious blend in a fun, casual atmosphere. Word of mouth has sung Japaz's praise, attracting a diverse crowd of young and old, and groups large and small. The quaint dining room sits on Wycombe Road, with a few wooden tables scattered throughout the handkerchief-sized space. The Japanese concept of izakaya marries perfectly to Spain's notion of tapas, in which diners share a range of small meals, with friends and wine for company. Opened in early 2008, Japaz effuses a laidback vibe, where waiters sit at the table to take your order, then surprise with elements of fine dining such as crumbing the table and napkin-lapping guests.
Owner-chef Hiro Takagi merges French culinary techniques with Spanish and Japanese ingredients to create simple meals to accompany your selection of tipples. Perfect for an after-work drink or dinner date, the contemporary menu offers a range of meat, seafood and vegetable dishes. The baked eggplant with pine nuts and cured mullet roe crust is a wonderful tipple accompaniment, or try the braised Wagyu beef cheek with almond sauce for a heartier option. Dip into the South Australian scallops with sweet soy and onion butter, or try Japaz's tasting menu of six to eight tapas dishes with matching wines. The Japaz menu is under constant fine-tuning, with three to five specials on offer each week. The wine list deserves equal attention, with drops hailing from Spain, France, Germany and Australia. Test the palate on some Japanese sake, or cast an eye over the blackboard wine specials, with quality drops emerging from the cellar for a limited time.