MELBOURNE | Gas-Light Izakaya Collingwood is a collaboration between The Gasometer Hotel and Northern Light. The Gasometer Hotel dates back to the 1800s and has been through a few incarnations in its time. Since current owners Clint Fisher (Retreat Hotel) and Shan Vanderwert (The Post Office Hotel) took over in 2014, they’ve been running it as a pub with a band room featuring independent local bands. It feels like a proper pub, the kind of pub that seems to be disappearing from Melbourne. While the guys have nailed the pub/live music side of things, the food has been harder to pin down, with a failed American BBQ experiment being one of the few things that has been tried.
Adam Liston, head chef and co-owner of Northern Light has his finger on the pulse when it comes to Japanese food in Melbourne. He’s one of the most passionate chefs we’ve encountered when it comes to Japanese food and he uses authentic flavour and techniques that we rarely see outside of Japan. He’s not about what you think Japanese food is, he’s about what Japanese food actually is. The collaboration between “The Gaso” and Northern Light might seem unusual at first, but makes a lot of sense when you think about it. In Japan, Izakayas are a huge part of the late night culture and what are the hallmarks of a proper Izakaya? Good beer and food that works well with beer. The City Lane was invited to the launch of Gas-Light Izakaya and we were keen to see what was on offer.
Northern Light’s sous chef Joel Baylon will be heading up the kitchen, which features 2 binchotan white charcoal grills that have come directly from Japan. It might but pub grub, but all of the produce is ethically sourced, hormone free and, where possible, organic. On the drinks front, along with a range of local craft beers on tap and in bottles, wines and spirits, you’ll now be able to get Sapporo, Orion and a few sakes too.
Jalapeno & Cheese Korokke, Shichimi Togarashi
These are really moreish and the heat comes not so much from the jalepeno, but from the molten deep fried cheese that oozes out when you take your first bite. Total comfort food and something you don’t see enough of in Australia – deep fried cheese is super common in Izakayas in Japan.
Chicken Thigh & Pork Belly Yakitori
There’s a range of yakitori on offer at Gas-Light Izakaya and it’s just what yakitori is supposed to be. The chicken was minimally seasoned with some lemon and shichimi pepper, and the beautiful smoked flavours from the binchotan charcoal came through nicely.
The pork belly yakitori was equally delicious.
There are a few katso sandos on offer, which are basically sandwiches with deep fried crumbed meat inside. At Gas-Light Izakaya they are done more in the style of a burger which really works. We tried the tonkatsu (fried pork loin) with cabbage and cheese. Ridiculously tasty.
Chicken Rib Karaage
Crispy fried chicken. Speaks for itself really.
Wok Fried Greens and Shoots, Oyster Sauce
If you wanted something light to break up your meal, there is salad.
Pork Loin Katsu & Field Mushroom Katsu
There are a few katsu options on offer too. We tried the classic pork loin katsu or “tonkatsu”. It’s served atop a raised metal tray so that it doesn’t go soggy with tonkatsu sauce, cabbage and lemon on the side – proper Japanese style.
There are actually several vegetarian options on the menu, including these tasty morsels of deep fried mushroom.
Of course there was live music on the night. It’s encouraging to see someone buy a pub these days and reinstate, rather than remove, the band room
Much deserved chill-out time for the kitchen crew and some of the bar staff after keeping us well fed, with drinks in our hands through the night.
If you’re into great live music and want to enjoy some authentic Japanese pub food along with some great drinks, Gas-Light Izakaya is for you. It might not look it from the outside, but the food you’re getting in here is the real deal – authentic Japanese pub grub. Kanpai!
The Gasometer Hotel
484 Smith Street