It was recently pointed out to me that I have a slight theme running through this blog, and really, it wasn’t planned at all. I just really enjoy Japanese cuisine. I haven’t been to Japan but hope to go in the next few years.
Hakoya Izakaya possibly noticed this and kindly extended an invitation to host me.
It is a new restaurant on Lonsdale street, just before Elizabeth street. I have actually been walking past them on my way to work, watching the interior of the restaurant get built, and thinking ‘must visit”.
So, a couple of days ago, I visited at dinner time to try their menu, give them some feedback, and share with you what it is like!
Before I get to the food, I have to say, the interior of the restaurant is gorgeous. I think it is somewhat reminiscent of Shobosho in Adelaide, though Hakoya Izakaya has a more welcoming and warmer atmosphere. There are heaps of lovely wooden surfaces and colourful art adorns the wall panels within the booths.
We were warmly greeted as we entered the restaurant, and the menu was explained to us. At Hakoya, you can order using an ipad menu or with a waiter.
We started our meal with fresh Sashimi, which had a melt in mouth texture and a dish called wasabi nori taco which is a must have appetiser. It was crunchy seaweed crackers with a wasabi punch topped with diced mixed sashimi. Light and delicious!
Hakoya is special because it is the only place in Melboune that does Seiro-mushi, which is a beautiful traditional Japanese dish where veggies and meat are steamed on the table in a handmade artisan box made from Hinoki wood.
The dish came with two dipping sauces as well. Citrusy Ponzu for the veggies and Sukiyaki sauce for the meat.
You have to try this! The steamed meat and veggies develop a complex yet mildly smoked flavour from the wood. It is a healthy, comforting and filling meal, which we found was perfect for the windy Melbourne evening on which we visited.
I have to say that Seiro-mushi was presented so beautifully with perfect little rolls of beef and nicely arranged veggies.
We were lucky to be able to try the Wagyu Sukiyaki Nabe as well, which is Japanese Hot Pot. It was a total feast!
This nabe is actually the best one I have tried. It wasn’t overly salty, there was heaps of flavour and it seriously packed with veggies, noodles and meat!
The wagyu was marbled and soft and the udon chewy and slightly slippery. Plus, there were heaps of mushrooms (one of my fave things to eat in hot pot!)
Look at it bubbling away! The Nabe also came with dipping sauces: a traditional egg yolk and sukiyaki sauce. The egg yolk added rich creaminess but there was heaps of flavour in the Nabe already that I didnt dip too much.
Thank you again to Hakoya for the invitation – it was a really lovely and impressive experience.
I can’t wait to head back to have some more Nabe and Seiro-mushi on another cold night!