Cinema hibiki
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Cinema Hibiki in Darlinghurst, Sydney, AU


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Cinema bar and restaurant Hibiki, doesn’t look like a Japanese restaurant where you can drink sake, but it is. I promise many surprises are waiting for you, and you will enjoy this unique atmosphere.

Fusion of Japanese and Australian culture

Cinema Hibiki is located near Museum Station, a railway station. It’s a quirky grill bar and restaurant with an old cinema theme and décor. You will notice right away a strange wooden table with a roof and wheels, similar to food stalls in Japan called “Yatai”.

cinema hibiki

Once you enter the restaurant, there are seats for drinking and watching Samurai movies on the left. The center is a counter bar, and tables for groups are on the right.

inside of cinema hibiki

The cinema bar is tastefully furnished with uniquely-designed tables and chairs, a big cinema screen, and soft and warm candle lights. The spacious dining area contributes to a relaxing ambience. The Japanese Ukiyo-e style painting on the walls depict female Japanese mafias looking at you. It also adds to the exotic Japanese atmosphere.

tables of cinema hibiki

Live jazz and blues sessions are held at weekends, making this restaurant stand out as unique and multi-cultural.

paintings and sake bottles of cinema hibiki

Other notable features include poems written on a folk stand, and sake bottles showcased on a wall.

unique ornaments of cinema hibiki

Right: “Jinsei tanoshinda mono gachi”, meaning “enjoying life is best of all”.
Left: “Oya no on yori Giri no on” meaning “owe someone’s kindness more than your parents.”

Sake tasting set

This restaurant provides a sake tasting set ($16/30ml × 3 cups). It’s a popular style of drinking sake in Japan. Three sakes are available, including the most popular, Beppin (A gold medal-awarded sake in 2014). Product information is available upon request.

sake tasting at cinema hibiki

The cinema bar also puts English titles as names on Japanese sake, making your experience with sake much better and memorable. For example, Beppin is “Pretty Woman” ($13/120ml), Kizakura is “yellow Sakura” ($8/120ml), and Onigoroshi is “Demon Slayer” ($14/120ml).

If you order hot sake, they demonstrate double boiling, which looks like sake flasks taking a bath together.

The selection of sake changes time to time. But they keep dry sake that is suitable for most popular sushi and sashimi dishes. It’s a good combination.

Sparkling wine is available

Like wine, sake also has a sparkling type (See more about sparkling sake). Cinema Hibiki always offers it. Two sparkling sakes are available: A pretty pink bottle of Hana Awaka ($20/250ml), and Berry-flavored Jelly Sake ($13/180ml).

Hana Awaka is sweet and rich, with an aroma of freshness and bananas. It only has 7% alcohol. It won the Gold Medal for The Fine SAKE Awards in Japan in 2014.

Berry-flavored Jelly Sake is a new type of sake. It’s like a berry cocktail with crushed jelly and ice. It’s definitely worth trying even if you don’t like sake.

berry flavored jelly sake

Paring sake with non-Japanese food

Cinema Hibiki offers Japanese food, but they can also bring some other food and arrange them on their own. This makes this restaurant very interesting. And paring sake with non-Japanese food will give you a new experience. Here are some recommendations.

Peppered Camembert cheese. Yes, cheese and sake. And it’s not bad. It’s actually good. Perhaps it’s because both are products of fermentation (milk and rice) and both also utilize lactic acid (read brewing sake for more detail). Junmai type of sake will be the best partner for Camembert cheese.

peppered camembert cheese

Another popular item on the menu is grilled skewered food. Whole garlic prawns is the one in the picture ($19). Japanese cuisine includes skewered stuff, but spit-roasted prawns like this is rare, and it’s really good. Medium-bodied dry sake goes well with it.

skewed garlic prawns

Salmon steak topped with Teriyaki sauce ($28) is another good combo. Japanese people never pair teriyaki with salmon, but this tastes good, too.

salmon teriyaki


The selection of sake: Good
Japanese-style food: Good
Atmosphere: Excellent
Staff: Excellent

The food, décor, and ambiance all contribute to bring you a pleasant and surprising “wow” experience.

cinema hibiki

Cinema Hibiki
Location : 1 Burton Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Open : Mon – Sat 11:30 a.m. – 11:45 p.m. / Sun 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
HP : http://www.cinemaizakaya.com

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