Lunch Mon-Fri noon-2.30pm
Dinner Mon-Thu 5.30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5.30pm-midnight
Beneath staid old Russell Street lurks this seductive sliver of a basement. The tunes are eclectic and the lights dim, but there's no need for smoke and mirrors when it offers a captivating collision of Japanese snackage and a serious sake collection backed by the patient explanations of co-owner Takashi Omi. Bandana-wearing chefs provide the show from behind the flame-blackened bar, deftly preparing food that's both traditional (tuna tataki, fried chicken) and unusual (fat prawns sandwiched between wafer-thin layers of fried nori rice crackers, daubed with yuzu mayonnaise). Brutish charred kingfish head yields deceptively buttery flesh, perfect for poking around in with chopsticks, while ox tongue branded with the grill's smoky char is offset with minced spring-onion sweetness. Finish with the fondue of white chocolate spiked with matcha powder, a goopily glorious expression of the Den's irreverent soul.
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