Six dishes to try on Yakimono

In just seven days, Chris Lucas will open Yakimono, his second restaurant in the luxurious 80s Collins area (along with the flagship Society, which opened just before lockdown 6.0). It channels Tokyo’s late Izakayas with an iridescent, futuristic décor that also borrows from Blade Runner 2049.

It’s inspired by the restaurateur’s time in Japan, where Daniel Wilson (chef owner of the acclaimed Huxtable before it closed in 2016), designed a modern, Japanese-inspired menu with a deft Australian touch. And although Wilson, unlike Lucas, has not lived in the East Asian country, he has visited many times.

“I ate the most,” he says Broadsheet with a laugh. “There is one izakaya just outside Shibuya – Simon Denton [of Izakaya Den and the now-closed Hihou] told me about it and I went there two nights in a row.

“It was small, just standing room … It was just really simple, really tasty, and I think it reminds me a lot of what we’re doing here, but of course on a much larger scale.”

The extensive menu is divided into 10 sections, from snacks and raw dishes to grilled sticks, rice and noodle bowls and panko-crumbled, deep-fried proteins. Wilson talked us through six dishes you should try.

Whole miso-glazed chicken

While most of the fire-powered menu is cooked on a charcoal grill (yaki is Japanese for “grill”), this whole chook comes from a charcoal Josper oven. Bannockburn chickens are salted, glazed with a mixture of miso, mirin and sake, then cooked in the oven to a charred, smoky finish. The court also comes with a spread of pages. There is a spicy slaw of roasted cabbage with chilimayo, yuzu and shredded nori, as well as rice that has been cooked in melted cold-smoked chicken fat, and then tossed with homemade chicken salt (it is made with dehydrated shredded chicken that is almost like chicken floss) . “It’s great to have right in the middle of the table and everyone can choose it,” Wilson says.

Karubi hund

This is one of those little bites not to be missed – a riff on the classic hot dog that unusually suppresses the sausage. Karubi, a super juicy marbled cut of beef, is sous-vide overnight until soft and tender, then sliced ​​and grilled over charcoal and brushed with kabayaki sauce, which is a sweet blend of soy sauce and mirin. The result is a smoked piece of meat lying in a soft bun with chopped pickles underneath and drizzle of jalapenomayo and miso mustard.

Mozzarella tofu

Of course, you’ll find the usual suspects on the panko menu – large Australian king prawns and chicken katsu with shichimi togarashi spice mix. But less traditional is the mozzarella tofu: the cheese is folded through blitzed tofu, flavored with kombu. “It’s crumbled and then deep-fried, like a mozzarella tofu croquette,” Wilson says, and then topped with a shitake-miso mustard and green onion furikake.

Grill squid

“It looks good,” Wilson says proudly. And he’s not mistaken. “We put metal skewers through it and boil it directly over the coal.” The team uses Fremantle squid tentacles that are first boiled slowly in dashi fondue before grilling. Then they are brushed with the aforementioned kabayaki sauce and covered over cream cheese with sweet chili sauce and smoked paprika oil. “A lot is happening and I expect it to be a really popular dish.”

Udon of smoked eel

There’s more kabayaki sauce here, but this time with a twist: this noodle dish is a game of carbonara. Sauteed shimeji mushrooms, smoked eel in flakes and kabayaki sauce (with added bones, skins and other parts of the eel) are tossed through the noodles, served with toasted crispy panko crumbs on top and a soft 63-degree egg. “The idea is to mix the egg through the noodles so that it thickens the sauce and adds extra richness.” The rest of the menu features shared plates or small individual bites, but Wilson says the rice and noodle dishes can also be enjoyed as a solo meal. “They are good lunch options if someone wants to come in and sit down for half an hour and smash a bowl of noodles and then move on.”

Yaki cult and raspberry ice cream sandwich

Yakimono has a soft-serve machine that cuts frozen yogurt flavored with sour probiotic milk drink Yakult. For this dish, it is squeezed with raspberry gel between two thin rice flour waffles (called monaka) shaped like milk bottles with a bit of red chocolate on top.

Yakimono opens at 80 Collins Street, Melbourne on 5 November. Book online.

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