Earlier this year, a wonderful little bar opened near the top end of Gertrude Street in Fitzroy. Dark and mysterious, but cleverly illuminated with a welcoming glow from inside, Tamura Sake Bar has all the wonderful things a sake bar in Japan has, namely great sake, great food and wonderfully generous hospitality, here in Melbourne. Super Sake Boy and I were very happy to find this wonderful oasis and then even happier to find the owner, Fumi Tamura, who we had met through Sake Matsuri and a mutual friend, behind the bar and the decks. Along with his wonderfully talented wife, Takako, in the kitchen preparing the kind of yakitori that I dream about when not in Japan.
The space is intimate, it is painted black and the bar is centrally located so that the staff can serve everyone seated around it with ease. The decks are behind the bar and the eclectic collection of vinyl is displayed on the wall, including many retro Japanese jazz albums and other curiosities. The sake is good. Seriously good. It is often really difficult to find good sake in Melbourne. Many restaurants, even the high end ones, can tend to serve ho-hum, mass produced and boring sake. Many people working in Japanese restaurants are not interested in sake, or not overly knowledgable about it. Fumi-san IS!!! He knows sake, he loves sake and he is really enthusiastic to share his love, knowledge and enthusiasm. I have never had a sake at Tamura that I didn’t love. Always interesting, always a little different and always served with a smile.
The food at Tamura Sake Bar is super, super delicious. For anyone who reads my blog, you will know that I am obsessed with yakitori. When I am in Japan I feel cheated if I go a day without eating yakitori. Takako’s yakitori tastes like great izakaya yakitori does in Japan. Her tsukune with crunchy little bits of renkon are delicious, her tare (sauce) is perfect. I highly recommend all of the yakitori. The other food that Tamura serves is equally delicious. The tori kawa senbei (literally chicken skin cracker) is crunchy and so flavourful, the portobello mushrooms with blue cheese are indulgent, rich and so full of umami goodness. The vegetable curry served with red rice is nurturing and homely and the char-shu pork donburi has, after one shared taste, become one of my favourites. I will dream of eating it again until I return. (Which will be soon).
Tamura Sake Bar is located at 43 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. They are open Monday to Saturday 12pm-11pm. The website is https://www.tamurasakebar.com