Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Izakaya Hachibeh

Izakaya Hachibeh offers a refreshing change from the usual chain-store nori-ramen-noodles Japanese options elsewhere in Melbourne.

I went for lunch and selected from the excellent value $12 Hachibeh bento menu. Following the eco-creed I ordered the fried vegetables, potato salad and agedashi tofu (because I’m incapable of going to any Japanese restaurant and not ordering it). The bento menu might be confusing, but the idea is that you select one item from each of the A, B and C boxes. There are also specials options on a board and more extensive alternatives available should you wish to branch out further. A PDF dinner menu is available on their website. One of the more intriguing options is the “Hachibeh ladies lunch set” which is only available to those without a Y chromosome, so I was out of luck.

The large bento comes attractively presented with the three selected options and rice arranged in their own little compartments in the box. There is also a complimentary miso which was very good. The flavours in each dish complemented each other nicely. The tasty potato salad was cold mashed and well seasoned with spring onions and pieces of carrot. It went nicely with the flavoursome teriyaki sauce vegetable stir-fry of carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and onion topped with sesame seeds. Of course my favourite was the agedashi tofu. Deliciously crisp on the outside and exquisitely smooth within. And the texture was matched by the taste. Excellent.

The word Izakaya is a compound of the Japanese words for sit (“i) and sake shop (“sakaya”). Upon entering Izakaya Hachibeh, you’ll find it looks more like a restaurant than a bar, with black tables, maroon walls and beautiful red lanterns adorned with characters reading “izakaya”. But there is also an impressively diverse range of sake on offer including their “special-made Hachibeh sake” which I’d be keen to try for dinner.

The restaurant which markets itself as Japanese Tapas was a novel concept for me. But with more than 100 small dishes available for dinner, they certainly have variety.

Izakaya Hachibeh should also be commended for the clarity of their dinner menu. I haven’t yet been for dinner (perhaps for a future entry) but I checked the menu and was delighted to find an entire section headed Vegetarian No Fish Stock with 20 delicious-looking options to choose from. Other Japanese restaurants could do well by learning from this example.

Izakaya Hachibeh is a friendly and great value lunch spot with authentic tasty Japanese food and I’m looking forward to trying it for dinner.

Izakaya Hachibeh on Urbanspoon

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