Oozing with style and character is this understated, eclectic joint that holds many surprises within its four walls. Its main storefront is a restaurant and bar dishing out crisp tempura, hearty ramen and succulent udon bowls, as well as offering a good range of Hitachino Nest and Brewdog craft beers. While already plenty, there’s more to Tempura Oji than that.
First, the food. Settle into a wooden stool and order from a menu mainly consisting of its namesake tempura items. Get vegetables, seafood or a mixed plate (the yasai is only $8) of these lightly battered items, or even the more unique Japanese sliced spam tempura ($10), that pairs perfectly with a pint of Brewdog lager or IPA on tap (both $14).
For more filling eats, they’ve got udon or ramen to choose from. The Tempura Udon ($17) is the obvious choice if you want to try a couple of battered items at the same time. You get a whole black tiger prawn and two vegetable tempura items inclusive, making it a rather good deal. Meanwhile, choose between shio or shoyu (salt or soy sauce; $15 and $17) tonkotsu broths if you’d rather get a comforting bowl of ramen.
Now for the fun part. If you take a closer look at the Brewdog fridge supposedly housing bottled beers, you’ll notice that it isn’t really a fridge, but a doorway. Step through this “fridge”, part the curtains, and you’ll find yourself transported away from a Japanese eatery and into a speakeasy club known as Brown Sugar.
Unlike other venues with a hidden area, the transition between spaces here is truly unexpected and, dare we say, joy inducing. Brown Sugar and Tempura Oji share the same menu as well, so feel free to flit between the two zones using the same tab.
Just be aware that things do get loud at the club when the DJs come on. But when you do start feeling loose after a couple of drinks (stick to the craft beers), and the mood to bust out some moves on the dancefloor hit you, Brown Sugar is the place to be at. You won’t be able to resist when their Funkiton One sound system starts thumping out pure aural bliss.