Hey babes, let’s meet at Nakano Darling

Start the night right with a Highball

Sometimes you come across a venue that is so wonderfully and perfectly enjoyable that you selfishly just want to keep it to yourself. Nakano Darling in Sydney’s Darling Square is one such place. 

Nakano Darling is an Izakaya right down to the perfectly cooked small dishes that accompany the quintessentially Japanese alcoholic drinks. 

Step inside Nakano…

The interiors are decorated to resemble a tiny Japanese street, including authentically Japanese (actually from Japan) street signs guiding the way. There are a couple of tatami areas for an even more immersive experience. 

A karaoke room is tucked away in the corner, although it’s not soundproof. The humiliation would be real if the other good natured guests didn’t sing along with your every note, which apparently happens, such is the convivial nature of the space. The venue has been designed for mingling and finding new friends in a very Japanese and un-Sydney way. 

Karaage Chicken free during Happy Hour

The drinks menu is packed with a wide variety of Japanese umeshu, sake, beer, whisky and gins. Grab a highball (whisky and soda water) to start your journey into downtown Nakano. 


The food on the menu is a small but mighty offering. The classic dishes you’d expect like gyoza (5pcs $7.50) and karaage chicken (5 pcs $7.50) – all coated and cooked fresh on premise to order, along with some incredible surprises like octopus karaage ($7.50). There are hot udon noodles with pork ($12.50). This may be one of the best places to eat in Sydney. All made on site in an ample kitchen. Plus, between 4-6 weekdays when you order a beer, you’ll receive free karaage chicken. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. 

If you’re itching to get away, but can’t right now, the best thing to do is go to Nakano Darling, enjoy award winning Japanese whiskey, sake and dive into the udon. 

Nakano, 14 Steam Mill Lane,
Haymarket, NSW, 2000

About the author

Michelle hails from the UK – but grew up with big flavours and spices thanks to her Singaporean Mum. International cuisine has always been part of Michelle’s life as she explored the world in the pursuit of delicious food and wine – along with a castle or two. Michelle now lives in Sydney after a lengthy stint in Brisbane (a city dear to her heart, which she visits frequently). She is letting her nose and palette be her guide as she discovers and shares exciting and delicious dining experiences. Michelle also loves, in equal measure, fashion, sunshine and puppies.


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