300 Murray Street, Perth
Ph: (08) 6102 2061
You had me at Japanese
No doubt you’ve heard of tapas bars – those intimate meeting places between work and dinner where Spanish snacks are served to accompany wine. They have them in Japan too called ‘izakaya’, where sake is usually the tipple of choice and the snacks are chopstick friendly.
Perth certainly is no stranger to the shared plate concept, and is now home to a new izakaya and Australia’s only Furaibo restaurant since early 2020. Famed for ‘tabasaki’ – their signature fried chicken is cooked in a secret recipe of a sweet peppery sauce and coated in sesame seeds.
Who doesn’t love chicken wings, automatically giving you permission to tear apart with your hands while ripping the tender flesh off the bone with your teeth? It’s interesting that this primal act appealed to one Japanese man living in Nagoya in regional Japan who noticed an excessive wastage of chicken wings, which at the time were only deemed useful for making soup. After much experimentation, he incorporated chicken into his menu.
Tabasaki can also be ordered as a thigh or breast, and it doesn’t take long for a tray of chicken wings to appear before us – and then rapidly disappear. It’s soon clear why they’ve earned their signature dish status as they are both crispy and tender while tasting sweet and spicy.
Furaibo isn’t just about chicken wings as there are over 100 dishes designed to be shared, offering authentic Japanese flavours catering to a Western palate with the use of local ingredients. Owner and executive chef Christo Pattiasima says, “We offer more than just sushi and we use the best available ingredients and never compromise on tradition.”
In saying that, I’m pleased that there’s a wide range of sushi and sashimi on the menu, especially with the Chef’s Sashimi Platter featuring sashimi-grade Tasmanian salmon, tuna, Australian king fish, scallops and yellow tail artfully arranged on ice with edible flowers. Almost too pretty to eat.
Next comes the Red Chilli Corn Fritters served with a wasabi sour cream dip. There’s a distinct hit of heat intensified by the sweetness of the corn and evenly balanced out by the wasabi and sour cream. Served on a black earthenware plate the sauce pops against its dark background – setting the tone for the drama that unfolds on the palate.
The Rainbow Rolls are also striking and tasty featuring tuna, yellow tail, salmon, shrimp, avocado and crab sticks wrapped around sushi rice and adorned with edible flowers and sesame seeds.
Furaibo has another speciality dish called ‘Kushiyaki’, also known as yakatori sticks, which are skewers grilled over charcoal. When you think about it, the options for grilled meat and vegetables are endless and we enjoyed chicken with green onion, nine-grade Wagyu, pork belly, asparagus wrapped in bacon, local scallops and lamb chop with garlic yuzu kosho – all outstanding and the lamb was a standout for tenderness with just the right amount of spice and salt.
Head chef Kevin Allen is proud of Furaibo’s extensive menu, which features 30 different types of sushi and sashimi, around 35 variations of yakatori sticks and, of course, the famous wings. He says, “We invite you all to come on down and try something different for Perth. Everything is authentic, made to order in-house and we use top suppliers and the freshest ingredients.”
Located in the newly refurbished Raine Square in the heart of the city, Furaibo is situated in the building that was once part of the original Royal Hotel on the corner of William and Wellington Streets. Built in the gold rush era in 1882, the hotel has a fascinating past and still retains its historic charm, and then some. The restoration maintains the wrap around balcony which breaks into two, with a smaller section extending to Furaibo, providing an excellent vantage point with great views of the surrounding buildings and the foot traffic below.
Furaibo’s fit-out is sympathetic to the era, and yet the heritage-listed building has an industrial vibe reminiscent of what you might stagger upon in the backstreets of Tokyo, including a mural by Ink & Anchor and Art By Destroy, adding to Perth’s eclectic mural and street art collection.
Furaibo’s downstairs bar serves snacks plus local and international wines and beers, and Japanese-inspired cocktails, including sake-based cocktails. The extensive sake list features mid-range and top shelf labels including the silky-textured premium Senkin Kamosu.
Our lunch was made all the more colourful with a martini mocktail and Japanese Jinzu gin-based Pink Panther with egg white, raspberry and a hint of lemon juice.
The kitchen features equipment unique to Perth’s Furaibo, including electric woks and a Kosei Grill imported from Japan using charcoal and gas ideal for cooking yakitori. Moffat supplied the heavy-duty Waldorf oven and cooktop range and also helped with the kitchen design. Brian Garcia of Moffat says, “The Caterlink design and fit-out team worked closely with the operators utilizing premium Moffat heavy duty cooking equipment.”
Furaibo may be one of the city’s newer restaurants but they’re already evolving to keep up with demand, with the addition of a lunch bar. The casual menu will feature Japanese curry, lunch plates in the same vein as bento boxes and custom-made sandwiches using Japanese bread baked specially for Furaibo with wagyu and chicken and pork katsu fillings.
Given Furaibo’s 50-year track record, consistency is paramount to the chain restaurant’s success and Kevin says, “If you come now and then a year later, our high standard will be the same.”
Definitely one to watch.
By Carmen Jenner