The wave of new places hitting the insular peninsula shows no signs of abating. The latest addition to Manly Beach’s burgeoning line-up of bars and restaurants is Daniel San, which is self described as a “Chow-down Bar & Beach-Side Dojo”. Daniel San is on the ground floor of what everyone knows as the Manly Pacific Hotel, which is on the corner of Raglan Street and North Steyne. Now I don’t think that Fraser Short (owner and Bar Baron) has a share in Frankie’s Pizza in Hunter Street – but Daniel San is kind of like Frankie’s with more natural light and a whole lot of Japanese thrown at you. There’s the pinnies, the rock’n’roll wallpaper, the music and the pricey beer – but there are plenty of unique aspects as well.
A big deal of Daniel San is the food. Gees – it’s even had a review by Terry Durack in its first month of opening (12/20). The kitchen is open for all to see, and a cook (chef) was holding court for a number of customers explaining how things are done. The menu is a broad offering of Japanese themed share plates, platters and snacks. Everything we had was very tasty, but if I hadn’t wolfed down my son’s kid’s meal I would have been still more than peckish. That’s the tip. Borrow someone’s kid and order the Chicken and Soba Noodle Salad off the kid’s menu, and you’ll get a decent feed. THe chicken karrage was crisp on the outside and succulent on the inside. Kicking myself for not at least trying one of the Robata Skewers – that’s for next time. These blokes can cook – just cook more.
The neon themed bar is loaded with spirit and sake bottles. The fridge is loaded with predominantly gold labelled Japanese beers including Orion Draft Beer. I casually ordered a stubbie, but then needed to be revived when the barman equally casually said – “$13, mate”. Was I in Singapore or Manly? I can comprehend a stubbie of <Insert Craft Brewer’s name> IPA mixed with coffee beans passed through a civet – but a macro malt bomb for $13. I can’t believe the Pacific Peso v the Japanese Yen comparison is that bad. Orion is a nice enough quaffer, but it isn’t a $13 beer. I retreated straight to the domestic macros on tap, which included Tooheys New, Super Dry (Hahn – not the t-shirt) and 150 Lashes (surely James Squires’ most available drop by now).
Plenty of attention has been given to the fit-out. I haven’t been past this place in the evening (and I’ve never been to Japan), but I’d imagine if all the neon were on, it’d look like a concentrated version of Ginza. The cushions on the long bench are particularly funky being made out of old jeans. The bar staff all wear rock’n’roll t-shirts, which they have to pay for. How they found the retro shirt from the Karate Kid is beyond me – but I guess you can find anything nowadays. Frankie’s still rules the roost for music paraphenalia, but Daniel San has had a go, even if some of it feels a little try hard.
I’ll have to visit in the evening and get a look at the roof-top bar, which will provide terrific views – but the well heeled have a new place to go in Manly.