Kaya Sydney brings izakaya to Oxford St


Kaya Sydney

96 Oxford Street
Darlinghurst, Sydney
02 8354 0057

The old Rambutan site on Oxford Street has come alive again. And, just as in its previous incarnation, good food goes hand in hand with great drinking at Kaya Sydney. “It’s loosely based on an izakaya, which is a Japanese bar that serves good food,” said owner Tim Lackey. Lackey and his business partner, James Pollard, have been working bars for a long time and both share a background in Japanese food. Lackey was instrumental in opening up Zuma and Hakkasan in London. The pair worked together years ago at China Doll and are well-versed in Asian flavours and food.

The venue’s stripped back design is thanks to Splinter Society, a Melbourne-based firm responsible for Cutler & Co.


“We’re trying to do something different here,” said Lackey. “This whole thing has been about fun, and that comes down to the drinks, the design, even Splinter Society who did the architecture – the first thing I said to them was just have fun with it.”

The early word is that Kaya is becoming popular as a late night destination, with a 3am licence. The drinks menu is enough to keep you there to the wee hours and is designed with the food in mind. Fresh produce and juiced to order mixers highlight Asian flavours and spirits, and avant-garde techniques like smoking and gelling get a look in. The Smoked Manhattan caught our eye – what’s not to love about Antica Formula, bitters and robata and hickory smoked bourbon – and the much-imitated Rhubabu (with rhubarb-infused sake) is a must.

And the food? “We’re focusing on a robata element up there,” said Lackey, “and shying away from the sushi side of things, which has been done to death in Sydney.”

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