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One of the worst times to make last minute dinner plans would have to be a Friday afternoon. Whilst discussing when our next dinner adventure would take place, Jma and I discovered an empty slot for that evening. Thus landing ourselves in such a position. After confirming our plans for dinner, the mad rush to get ourselves two seats at a restaurant ensued. I promptly picked up the phone to call Akachochin. Fingers+toes crossed and waiting with bated breath, I almost let out a yippeeee when I was told there were available spots at the sushi bar.
Located in the relatively new South Wharf Promenade, Akachochin is one of many restaurants that has helped to inject a fresh burst of life into what used to be ghost town. Walking past quite a few of the new restaurants on the block, they all seemed to share one common element: style. We soon discovered that much like its neighbours, Akachochin has also suited up; its warehouse interior transformed into something suave and trendy.
Infused with the modern decor were elements of traditional Japanese food stalls. The bar area in particular (where we were seated) reminded me of the casual pop-in-pop-out ramen restaurants in Japan. Further enhancing the Japanese feel was the chorus of ‘irrashaimase’ and ‘arigato gozaimasu’ sang out from the wait staff whenever someone came or left. AND they also communicated to one another in Japanese!
Bottom right: Head chef Kengo Hiromatsu hard at work and showcasing his talents.
Konacha - fine green tea leaves.
Save for at the VERY beginning when the glasses were first placed in front of us, at no point were our glasses empty. Our teapot was also frequently checked and refilled when necessary. GREAT customer service.
Complimentary starter dish: Duck and eggplant.
This complimentary dish was one great starter that teased the palate and only hinted at the tastiness that was soon to come. The duck possessed a sweet glaze that complimented the teriyaki broth-like sauce and the soft eggplant.
Hiramasa Namerou with rice crackers - Japanese style tartar; chopped kingfish with spring onion, moromiso, kizami-wasabi and olive oil, served with rice cracker.
The ingredients listed in this dish’s description flagged it as something unique and when the waitress recommended it (one of their best sellers), we knew we just had to order it. The actual dish did not disappoint. We were instructed to spoon the tartar onto a piece of rice cracker or wedge the filling between two layers of cracker. The rice cracker was essentially Vietnamese rice paper roll that had undergone some sort of transformation to provide it with a texture that was quite akin to flattened prawn crackers. Eaten solo, it tasted just like rice paper. When eaten with the tartar, the taste of wasabi mixed through the fresh ingredients was immediately detectable, dominating while the other flavours lingered in the background. Strangely enough, there was no burning sensation. The raw cool texture of the king fish was very enjoyable. IT HAS FINALLY HAPPENED… this food blogger can now eat and APPRECIATE raw fish…
Towards the end, we noticed quite a bit of tartar remaining and heaped the remainder onto two small pieces of rice cracker. And with this last bite, I learnt that moderation is the key to eating this dish. Unless you enjoy the burning sensations of wasabi, the searing sensation that shot up my nose was not very pleasant.
Wagyu tataki with yuzu-kosyou su-miso - 6 pieces seared wagyu beef, crispy leek, ito-tougarashi and chives, with yuzu-kosyou su miso.
Does staring at the above photo elicit stomach rumblings and drooling? For me, my stomach definitely rumbled and I could feel myself salivate as my eyes took in the glorious sight of the wagyu and its perfect presentation. The marbled wagyu was very tender and the fatty meat seemed to melt as soon as it made contact with my mouth. The meat was perhaps sliced a little too thick for my liking but smearing the pieces in the sauce helped mask the thickness and any potential over-the-top beefiness. The sauce served as the perfect companion to the wagyu, possessing a strong citrus tone that danced around a sharp and sweet underlying flavour.
Ebi & Daikon Creamy Salad - cooked prawn, white radish, mixed leaves and micro herbs, with creamy wasabi dressing.
Although the salad was quite huge, it wasn’t the size that made it very filling but rather the creaminess. The salad also had a strong lemon dressing flavour that helped to cut through the creaminess but that just left us with a strong lemon taste after every bite. The prawns didn’t soak up the flavour and provided relief from the creaminess.
Quail Karaage to Manju - deep fried quail potato cake, filled with quail, and juicy quail breast karaage.
Thanks to my sensitive palate, I found the quail meat too gamy. Jma on the other hand didn’t mind the dish. The potato in the deep fried quail potato cake was velvety smooth and was encased in a thin flour layer similar to daifuku.
Buta Kakuni - pork belly simmered in sweet soy sauce, with Japanese mustard & shiraga-negi. (Ordered with rice)
The pork belly was one well-cooked dish with homey flavours similar to my parent’s braised pork and egg dish (thit kho). The aromas of soy and ginger instantly wafted up to our nostrils as soon as the plate was placed down on the table. The pork was soft, tender and pulled. The wasabi mustard provided a Japanese touch to the pork but after one taste, I thought that it marred the flavours of the pork and pushed it aside leaving it untouched for the remainder of the dish.
Sweet potato brulee.
Sweet. Potato. Brulee. We knew that it’d be something different but it was truly out of this world. It was simply amazing and ended our dinner on a high note. The brulee was comprised of the smoothest ‘liquified’ mashed sweet potato combined with custard. Overall, it wasn’t too sweet and the sweet potato worked wonders with the custard. The caramel layer was quite thick, resulting in a satisfying crunch when we first cracked the top layer and shards of caramel throughout. We had been given recommendations from the waitress all night and the brulee was the only dish that had NOT been recommended because she hadn’t tried it yet. We knew it from the first bite and when we finally finished the dish and she came around to our table, the roles were reversed and WE RECOMMENDED THE DISH TO HER!
Akachochin brings its A game in style, food and service, making it one of the swankiest Japanese bar-restaurant in all of Melbourne. Its dishes which celebrate traditional Japanese flavours with a contemporary twist make each mouthful a sensational taste adventure that will leave you craving for more.
33 Dukes Walk,
South Wharf, Victoria, 3006.
(03) 9245 9900