03 9245 9900
33 Dukes Walk
South Wharf, VIC 3006
Moving away from Melbourne has its perks. I get to explore a new city, find new treasures and learn to open my heart to more than just Melbourne. But the downfall to that would be the fact that I can no longer keep up with the amazing new places that are popping up around Melbourne like mushrooms after a heavy rainfall. I’m told that even folks living in Melbourne find it hard to keep up, such is the pace of growth in the restaurant population, but that just spells doom for the out-of-towners like me.
Still, I try my best. Which is why my last trip to Melbourne found me walking to Akachochin from Etihad Stadium as I had gotten quite lost. Perseverance is the key, my grumbling stomach and my yearn to meet my mates I-hua and Agnes saw me sticking it out and I was rewarded by my friends laughing at my misery through a glass window as I realised I had to walk around the building to get to the door. Damn.
Akachochin (so named after the red lanterns that usually adorns the doorway of Izakaya restaurants) is an Izakaya-style Japanese restaurant. That means that their menu consists of small dishes that are designed to be shared. And while this was normally not an issue (never an issue, really) I was there for lunch, and it was the lunch set menu that we had our sights on that day.
Akachochin offers lunch sets at $20 per pop between 12 – 4pm. You get: steamed rice, miso soup, yasai ohitashi (seasonal marinated vegetables in dashi stock) served with your choice of sashimi (salmon or kingfish) and a main option. I was pleased to see that if you didn’t fancy meat options, there was at least one option that catered for that. All too often you find that restaurants forget vegetarians exist…
I ordered Option 1 as option 2 just didn’t look all that exciting. For my main option, I went with butabara yakimono – grilled pork belly with spicy teriyaki sauce. And as I write this, I am salivating as I remember just how amazing the meal was. Damn being 7 hours drive away!
I could find nothing wrong about this meal. The kingfish was fresh, sweet and incredibly yummy. If I had to complain, I’d say that there just wasn’t enough of it! I could have eaten loads more of that and then some. It was so good. The rice was also well cooked. It wasn’t dry, nor was it soggy: just the right texture without being too sticky. Perfection!
As for the pork belly, if I could eat this everyday, I’d die happy! The spicy teriyaki sauce really got the appetite going and how can one ever say no to pork belly? Impossible. The skill and techniques applied were apparent and the care taken in preparing the dish was clear in every bite. The portion was generous but no portion can be quite generous enough when it comes to a hungry stomach and an amazingly prepared dish of pork belly. Ah, I’m a greedy pig, that’s what I am.
These chicken wing dumplings $15 came highly recommended by the ever-knowing tummies who shared my meal table. In them, I trust so I happily took a bite into my chicken wing. Immediately I was drawn to the fact that it had been skillfully deboned, wrapped and stuffed into a little dumpling with a wing. And somehow still preserving its shape as a chicken wing. Skill, this is what I need in my life! I-hua regretfully informed me that they weren’t quite as deep fried as they had previously tried them before, so I guess I will have to head back to Akachochin again to try them once more, hopefully with it more fried. Ah, such a tough life.
These desserts didn’t come with the set lunch (neither did the chicken wings) but we just couldn’t leave without some sweets to wrap up the already amazing lunch. I opted for the Sweet Potato Brulee $12 while the others went with Black Sesame Pannacotta with Green Tea Ice Cream $14. I should have gathered something was up when both couples ordered the same thing, as their dessert was seriously the bomb. The black sesame pannacotta was the best thing I’ve ever eaten, so silky smooth, so beautiful and so filled with black sesame. While my own sweet potato brulee was sadly lacking in the brulee department. There was no satisfying crack (it was more like a weak, half-hearted squeak), and while nice it didn’t have the wow factor that the black sesame pannacotta did. Oh well, next time!
If you are in town, you need to head to Akachochin. Without a doubt, it has one of the best lunch deals you can get for $20 in town. I know for a fact that the next time I’m in town with a bit of time to spare, that’s where I’m headed to again. Oh, Akachochin, you have stolen my heart.