MELBOURNE | Yakimono is the newest restaurant from Lucas Group. It’s the casual counterpart to Chris Lucas’ upmarket, Society, and can be found right beside it in the new 80 Collins precinct.
The kitchen is headed up by Daniel Wilson, of Huxtable and Huxtaburger fame, with a menu that is contemporary Japanese inspired with a modern Australian ethos. A comparison to Chin Chin is somewhat apt. What that restaurant is to Thai food, Yakimono is to Japanese food.
The space is inspired by the late night sights and sounds of Japan. Neo-futuristic themes, very shiny, with lots of neon and multi coloured lights. A dazzling array on the senses, centred around the large open kitchen, which has three full sides dedicated to kitchen bar dining. Visually, Yakimono is stunning.
Inside that kitchen, you’ll find Wilson and his team cooking predominantly over fire. There’s skewered meat and veg, and plenty of the dishes features a char, or smoky element to them. If you can only go for one of the skewers, definitely try the tsukune (chicken meatball). It’s got a great mix of unctuous fat and meat, and a little spice kick. For a starter snack, grab the Karubi dog. This take on a hot dog replaces sausage with a sous-vide, marbled cut of beef, soy sauce and mirin. It’s served in a soft bun with chopped pickles, jalapeno mayo, and miso mustard
For bigger dishes, go for the wonderfully charred Fremantle octopus, lathered with soy, mirin, cream cheese, sweet chilli sauce, and smoked paprika oil. The tonkatsu, denser than you traditionally find in Japan but not at all heavy, is also very tasty, served with a prune tonkatsu sauce. And definitely grab a bowl of smoked chicken fat rice for the side.
When it comes to sweets, the most popular one is the Yaki-kult ice-cream sandwich. It’s Yakult soft serve froyo served with raspberry gel, inside two monaka (thin rice-flour wafers), shaped like a milk bottle. It’s good, but if you can only grab one dessert, try the mochi waffle with hazelnut buttercream and salted macadamia praline.
For drinks, it’s an assortment of tap beer, wines and sake, and cocktails named after various Tokyo neighbourhoods.
An important thing to know before dining at Yakimono is that the restaurant is not a Japanese restaurant. If you go here looking for traditional Japanese food. If you go here looking for “proper” versions of the Japanese food you remember from your travels, you’ll be disappointed. That’s not what Yakimono is about. It’s about creative and interesting Japanese inspired dishes, in a space that’s casual, and a whole lot of fun. Come with a few friends, order a bunch of things to share, and have a great time.
80 Collins Street
Mon: 12:00pm to 10:30pm
Tue – Sun: 12:00pm to 11:30pm