Ok ... I think we can safely posit that the trend of Japanese eateries has slowed down in Melbourne. There was a time when you couldn't throw a stick without hitting some kind of sushi train bar and indeed an Izikaya. Meanwhile the Korean Hot Pot/Chinese Dumpling Barbie/Taiwanese Dessert wave continues unabashed. So its nice to find a new hot spot serving this oft bastardised cuisine redolent of clean and clear flavours in the Fitzroy/Collingwood (you can split the difference yourself) environs no less.
I first stumbled onto Aka Siro while showing my overseas bffs round some of my usual stomping grounds of Melbourne. In fact, there are quite a few culinary treasures to be discovered on the Collingwood side of Fitzroy. (We were on our way to somewhere less salubrious - but thats a story for another time) Aka Siro is on the corner of Cambridge and Peel Streets, an area that may be familiar to some of a certain persuasion (*give knowing look*). Maybe its the decor (tokyo seen through the eyes of Fitzroy) or its corner location, but you invariably stumble on this cafe and are compelled to stop and take a look.
They specialise in Teishoku (or meal sets) which I like to think of as Bentos without the box. So with each main dish comes miso, rice and salad. Expect to pay an extra $2 for the location, but the flavours are amazing and presentation is spot on. The chef is right in the heart of the space so you can watch your meals lovingly prepared before they arrive at your table.
As it was nigh on lunchtime, we squeezed up at the side of the bar and hunkered down for what, we could already tell just from the menu alone, was going to be an amazing meal.
M was super starving so he ordered the Japanese sausage which was kind of a chorizo of sorts split into a laughing mouth at one corner and served with Kewpie mayo.
He opted for the San Sai Teishoku or 3 dishes which incidentally was the vegetarian option. It had a potato mash, beans, and an omelette with miso eggplant on the side.
The Omelette had been folded into multiple layers and cut like a slice of cake. It had an amazing flavour well beyond the taste of just egg. We're still trying to figure out what it was. The beans were sweet and not at all rich. The potato was ok, not amazing, but that eggplant miso is always a fav. If you haven't already tried it, make it at home. Grill a piece of eggplant and smear Miso paste on it. Delicious!
I had the Buta Kakuni which was the Slow Cooked Pork Belly in soy and sweet sake sauce. And that was exactly what it tasted like. Melt in your mouth pork in a sweet soy sauce cut by the clear rice flavour of sake. Wonderfully refreshing and rich at the same time.
As mentioned previously, all meals come with rice and miso soup. The miso here is not too salty which is just the way I like it.
The salad is shredded cabbage with finely grated carrot - the perfect light accompaniment.
You need to check this place out. Irasshaimase!!