Hihou | Nama Nama
From the limited dinner seating since opening last year, to now including lunch offerings and also afternoon tea, this little Japanese city bar – Hihou – has certainly spread its wings. Having stumbled upon Claire’s write-up recently, my interest perked on intending to go back, but also lamentably reminded me that I still had not published a post from my visit many months past – such is life.
A short prelude at Nama Nama – the cute downstairs Japanese café serving home-made udon and bento boxes – for a few bites at the start of the night whilst awaiting for our friends to arrive.
Living atop Nama Nama, I am surprised the swankier upstairs sister restaurant has received so little social media coverage since its birth. This discretion is reflected in its secret entrance just off Flinders lane. Inside you are spoilt by the views of Treasury gardens, the warm service, and its charming decorum that is dimly lit with overhanging wooden latticework light fixtures, and cool stretches of marble table.
Now onto the food…
‘Cuban’ spicy tuna cigar
Lobster, cucumber and caviar temaki roll
Seared Ocean trout sashimi, ginger
Kingfish ceviche, yuzu kosho
Chilli wagyu tataki
Buckwheat crepes – pork belly, cucumber, pickled mushroom
Chocolate shochu brulee
Rating: Yummy+1.5. HiHou offers a classy dining experience in a moody sake bar with a shortlist of delectable, moreish bite sized morsels.
There is no doubt the punch of flavours, the ocean-freshness of the seafood, and the attention to detail is elegantly present through all their offerings. The crisp crunch of the exterior shell (cigar) filled with a moist fragrant tuna is an exquisite example. The lobster, the sashimi, the ceviche all endeavoured to please with its ocean-freshness. The buckwheat crepes (requiring a little self-assembly) has little resemblance to its Japanese or French origins, possessing an almost strange chewier texture that actually works with the bite of pork belly and acidic pickle. The Ochazuke is a nostalgic reminder of how in Japan, many beautiful meals tend to finish in such a way (*ahem to help fill you up a bit).
Your tastebuds will be tantalised by the elegant notes and interesting interplay between the old and new schools of Japanese cuisine. But prepare to leave some spare change for something to fill the belly after.
Where: (ground floor) 1 Flinders Lane, CBD Melbourne
Opens: closed Sunday
Where: (1st floor) 1 Flinders Lane, CBD Melbourne
Opens: closed Sunday
Bookings: please see website.