AN old sushi train transformed into a Japanese-themed cocktail bar and restaurant in Annandale has without fanfare built a Sydney-wide clientele - its Parramatta Road location delivering some unexpected rewards.
Snacky Chans was opened just over a year ago by locals Blair Lennon and Mark McGay, both chefs with Japanese training. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they took a punt on the premises of the former Star Sushi restaurant and set about creating a community-based destination with a difference. "We had a really cool concept, and we wanted to create something that was interesting," said Mr Lennon.
"When you walk in you kind of expect the unexpected."- Blair Lennon
Snacky Chans is a finalist in the restaurant category of the Inner West Local Business Awards (for which Inner West Review is media partner) - a nod that Mr Lennon is pleased about. "The inner west is a strong part of us, and we are glad we are being acknowledged," he said.
Inside the long and narrow venue, the groovy scene set with the assistance of pink neon, there are dining booths along the wall and a sushi train that circles in front of the cocktail bar. The a la carte menu offers Japanese staples such as yakitori, okonomiyaki and ramen, but also duck pancakes, pork buns and bao burgers.
"We do a few dishes that are kind of crossing cultures," Mr Lennon said. "We butcher all our own fish, make all our own ponzu sauces; for our cocktails we forage stuff like lemon myrtle and we actually just started making our own gin to use in the cocktails." The "samurai-strength" gin is made by Lord Howe Island Distilling Co, co-founded by Annandale local Christian Young. Beers on tap also veer local. "You won't see a Sapporo on tap, but you will see a rice lager made by the guys at Yulli's in Alexandria."
Their position on Parramatta Road, amid successful retail businesses but also decrepit empty shopfronts and massage parlours, has given Snacky Chans somewhat of a cool, mysterious edge, Mr Lennon said, with word spreading and bringing in customers from well beyond the inner west.
"It has been interesting because we are a bit of a speakeasy-style venue, there's been a lot of word-of-mouth and we haven't done a lot of marketing, and when you walk in you kind of expect the unexpected," Mr Lennon says. "You feel like you are not on Parramatta Road anymore and you have escaped somewhere that is really different."
INNER WEST LOCAL BUSINESS AWARDS
Winners will be announced on July 19
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