Ototo is Japanese for “younger brother”, which makes it a fitting name for this izakaya-style bar in the basement of Japanese fine diner, Akaiito, on Flinders Lane.
Follow the luminous red-thread installation at the upstairs restaurant into the moody space below, where you can expect Japanese-inflected snacks such as Sydney rock oysters served with ponzu and ikura (salmon roe), crispy mantou (Chinese buns), pork-and-prawn “cigars” with the optional add-on of sea urchin, and Hervey Bay scallops with seaweed butter.
Larger share plates include deluxe sashimi platters, Korean-style steak tartare with cured egg yolk, masala lamb ribs and sambal king prawns. Or get the full experience by going for the chef’s selection.
Drinks-wise, it’s all about savoury and umami-laced cocktails that complement the food. Try the signature Japanese-inspired Nori Martini or a sake-based spritz with butter-fat washed gin that’s made in-house.
The bar also has a focus on sustainability, using Ecospirits, a low-carbon, low-waste spirits-distribution service. Plus, fruit pulp is made into puree, while skins and cores are ground to create flavoured syrups. Any leftover ingredients are recycled back to the kitchen and implemented into the cooking wherever possible.
The space’s stylish fit-out features exposed bluestone walls, a black-stone-topped bar and space for up to 60 people. But the high tables and extra bar seating make it feel more laid-back. Historical elements of the heritage-listed building can also be seen through its original ceiling beams, restored wooden columns and heritage iron grating.