The vinyl floor is gone. The sunny yellow bar tiling has been replaced with textured timber panelling, and the space (re-jigged by designers Studio -Gram) has been softened with carpet and Japanese noren curtains.
But this is more than Shobosho in the 'burbs. Loyal patrons of the Leigh Street restaurant will recognise chefs Adam Liston and Yumi Nagaya’s fingerprints on dishes such as tuna tataki with ponzu and wasabi (served at Shobosho with salmon), and udon noodles with blue swimmer crab and crab dashi butter, which guest stars occasionally on the Shobosho menu.
But the focus here is firmly on tempura: crisp, lightly battered veggies and seafood, including green beans (or “poor man’s fish” as the menu calls it) with grated cured egg yolk, onion rings with caramelised French onion dip, and seafood seldom spotted on local menus, such as whole coral prawns, toothfish and scampi from West Australian supplier Fins Seafood.
The former Joybird rotisserie has been repurposed for meats such as char siu pork, which is served with a potato and kimchi dauphinois. These subtle French elements pepper the menu: there’s a “miso bearnaise” and a shallot pancake enriched with creamy Laughing Cow cheese.
Also on the menu: dumplings, wontons and a cheeseburger with tea pickles, smoked tomato and tempura nori. But the star of it all might be the crab head filled with a flavourful, fiery mix of blue swimmer crab meat, tapioca and white pepper sauce, regally crowned with shavings of tempura batter.
As for the drinks, there’s a wine for every palate (and wallet) – from a smashable Delinquente house wine to a wallet-bruising bottle of Charles Heidsieck Brut Millésimé – alongside Japanese beer, sake and umeshu.