Nagisa Japanese Restaurant
N2, The Boardwalk, 1 Honeysuckle Dr, Newcastle, NSW
02 4929 4122
One fine Newcastle day, Chef Tetsuhiko Namba was walking by the water in Honeysuckle when the Japanese word ‘nagisa’ appeared in his mind. Meaning ‘ebbing of the tide’, it was the perfect name for the harbourside restaurant he was set to open – a space distinguished by its simplicity and calming atmosphere.
This simplicity is in contrast to the extraordinary journey Tetsuhiko has taken to get here. Many years ago, he worked in a meat factory before moving to Takamatsu in Japan, where he learned to make traditional udon noodles. He soon developed a passion for cooking and worked as a chef in the Suntory Restaurants in Tokyo and Sydney. Soon after moving to Australia, Tetsuhiko established a successful wheat and cattle farm in Gunnedah before finally settling in the seaside city of Newcastle. It was here that he noticed an absence of good Japanese food, and in 2014 he decided to open Nagisa.
He was not alone in this new venture. Chef, Chris Schofield, had just finished studying natural history illustration when he started cooking under Tetsuhiko, and his passion and prowess soon led him to take on the role of Head Chef.
Walking into Nagisa you’ll immediately recognise this perfect balance of traditional and contemporary. The sweeping sails of fabric decorating the ceiling are grounded by the marble and rustic steel of the bar. The menu follows suit, matching fresh produce with rich flavours.
If you’re in for lunch, sample the best of the day with the Nagisa boxes – choose from seafood, chicken or vegetable and receive a smorgasbord of delectable dishes. For true comfort food, opt for the chilli pork ramen, served with 16-hour slow cooked chashu pork, marinated egg and black garlic oil.
However, there’s not much better than the Hokkaido scallops, seared in spicy yuzu butter with radish and pear puree, yuzu wasabi, pickled cucumber and honeydew melon. Served with matching sake, it’s the ideal dish to accompany the harbourside setting.
When the sun sets, start your evening with the gyoza as well as the nori-crumbed tofu sticks dipped in spicy pirikara and wasabi mayonnaise. For the full Nagisa experience, don’t miss the dinner tasting menu. You’ll be treated to the chef’s selection of 10 dishes including the kingfish carpaccio, yuzu butter scallops, wagyu beef tataki, teriyaki chicken yakitori, and confit salmon, all finished off with a blueberry taro popsicle – a unique confection with sweet potato, blueberry, coconut, roasted hazelnuts and raspberry jelly.
For a local wine or an authentic Japanese sake to set off your meal, consult Sommelier, Yohei Namba. His carefully selected wine list was recently awarded a Glass from the Sydney Morning Herald, so your drink choices will be in capable hands.
The thoughtful approach of Nagisa’s food can be attributed to Tetsuhiko’s love of boutique restaurants he frequented while living in Tokyo. He reminisced, “What made these experiences so inspiring was the natural simplicity of the cuisine – simple recipes made with passion, artistic flair and respect for each ingredient.” As the quality of Nagisa’s food proves, simple is often best.