Nagisa honoured with national recognition

RAISING THE BAR: Staff at Nagisa pose with their award for Best Japanese Restaurant won at the 2018 National Restaurant and Catering Awards.
RAISING THE BAR: Staff at Nagisa pose with their award for Best Japanese Restaurant won at the 2018 National Restaurant and Catering Awards.

In a coup for Newcastle and the Hunter, local restaurant Nagisa was recently named best Japanese Restaurant in Australia at the 2018 National Restaurant and Catering Awards.

Breathtaking fresh dishes and  devotion to Japanese beauty in plating clinched the coveted honour.

Nagisa infuses authentic Japanese flavours – delicate and succulent – with inventive new Australian touches and locally-sourced produce.

Added to the finely-balanced recipe is gracious service and striking Newcastle Harbour views to savour.

“Winning this national award over Sydney and Melbourne, in particular, amazed us,”   manager and co-owner  Yohei Namba said.

The award underlines Nagisa’s long-standing commitment to customers and is a new high for its owners, the Namba family, who originally emigrated from Tokyo in Japan in 1985. Nagisa previously won Regional Asian Restaurant NSW four times.

Nagisa started at its Honeysuckle locale 15 years ago and is a much-loved fixture on the Newcastle entertainment scene.

A definite family affair, Nagisa was established by Yohei’s father Tetsuhiko, the original head chef. Tetsuhiko now co-directs with sons Yohei and Taiyo, and shares his reverence for Japanese traditions with the new Novocastrian generation.

Today’s head chef Chris Scofield trained under Tetsuhiko in Newcastle at Nagisa, and took over the Nagisa kitchen in 2009.  This latest award puts Chis’ exceptional talents further in the spotlight.

Half of Nagisa’s menu is fresh seafood, the other land-based fare and vegetarian  with a focus on gluten free.

“Gluten is not such an issue in Japan but we’re mindful of it in Australia,” Yohei said.

“We get our great seafood from Shane’s Seafood Toronto and Red Funnel Newcastle.

“They get the best on a daily basis and without them, we can’t open.

“If they see special fare at market, they bring it in for Chris to work his magic.”

Nagisa’s well-stocked bar is only one of three establishments in the Hunter to achieve a coveted two-glass rating for wine from Gourmet Traveller.

“We source predominantly Hunter Valley wines, and those from NSW and around Canberra,” said Yohei, who curates the list.

“As a local restauranteur we feature world-class Hunter wines, especially Semillon – a perfect accompaniment to Japanese food.

“Nagisa serves six or seven different Semillons by glass, featuring Andrew Thomas renowned for his production of Hunter Semillons.”

Nagisa also stocks an eye-opening range of Japanese craft beers,  whiskeys and Australian gins.

“We love to wow our customers with our food, wine and presentation,” Yohei said.