Sunday, March 21, 2010


I have alluded to this place in many posts, but it has been quite a while since I've actually eaten there. Well, on Friday, we finally went back to an old faithful. For those of you that don't know what the definition of an old faithful is, this is my definition:

Old Faithful, /adj/ A place where you know you will be looked after with food that simply never disappoints.

Hako is that type of place. I've been eating at Hako for so many years now, I think it would be hard to remember a time without a place like Hako. In the old days, it used to be a tiny shop in Degraves St (where Little Cupcakes is now - so if you know how small little cupcakes is, you know how small Hako used to be), and it would squeeze in barely 20 people. I remember how I would go after uni and occasionally rush there just before they close in the hope that the kitchen was still open so I could get my fix. This was in my early uni days so when I think about it, even back then, I knew I was onto a winner.

I don't know what to say about Hako, I really don't. You all know how much I love sashimi nowadays, well, it was Hako that got me started.

I remember my first sashimi experience was a delicate spicy tuna sashimi that was so magnificent that the transition of sashimi into one of my favourite foods seems so foreign.

Not to mention, their okonomiyaki is something I crave for - I don't just eat it, I CRAVE it.

I remember having a tonkatsu at this place and just thinking this, in winter, is just what I need. A self contained bowl of food that has everything you need and the karage with the succulent chicken and rice being a dish I could eat everything.

Hako is a place that I wish I would visit more more often. If anything, that is part of my 2010 plan: Goto Hako more..

To finish off a night of brillaint food, my dear friend Caroline and I went to MoVida Aqui to, of course, have a creme caramel. There is no doubt, the creme caramel has magical qualities. That first mouthful of silky smooth custard dissolves, for a split second, all the problems of the world.


Hako, 310 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
MoVida Aqui, 500 Bourke St, Melbourne (enter via Lt Bourke).

Hako on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tempura Hajime

Well, I CAN'T believe, it has been almost TWO weeks since I dined at Tempura Hajime and I have yet to blog about it. I've finally decided to devote some time and talk about Tempura Hajime.

Located in South Melbourne, this place is discreet, and believe me when I say discreet I mean it. Located near Kings Way, on Park St, it is steeped in between office blocks and apartments. It is the most unlikely place you would expect to find tempura bar. As the name suggests, tempura is what they do, and let me tell you, they definitely know tempura. Tempura and the Hajime obviously go way back.

To set the scene, the entrance is so discreet that unless you were actually looking for that restaurant, you would not locate it by chance. No street signage, a deep and heavy wooden door opens to an illuminated sign. That's it. That's all you get. From there you enter a waiting room, you definitely can't say it is pedestrian. Greeted by two staff, we are taken into the main dining room where the action happens. Seating only 12 people, it houses a hemispherical bar where the chef casts his magic.

From memory (and photos), approximately 12 courses are served, each showcasing the brilliance of each main ingredient. We start off with sashimi with the usual suspects of kingfish, salmon and whiting. Like all brilliant sashimi, big yielding pieces provide enough texture to bite into, but soft enough to disintegrate after a few bites.

A tempura of corn was so marvelously understated that it makes you wonder how come corn doesn't always taste like this.The way it was cut was also impressive, with the kernels remaining intact - I can't ever get it to look so neat.

I won't talk about each dish because after 2 weeks, I have really forgotten the order which they were served. But one thing that remains is how perfect each piece of tempura was. Perfectly crisp, devoid of greasy oil, with flavours that were harmonised without being too overpowering. Watching the precision and meticulous detail of the chef is an interesting sight. I might start practicing with hot oil so I can be as awesome.

Anyway, Tempura Hajime is a place that you wish was your local, but it is so far from pedestrian that it really couldn't be your local even if you lived next door.

Enough of my ranting, here are the pics, enjoy and let me know what your experiences have been at Tempura Hajime:

Eel and Dory. 

Eggplant with chicken

Kingfish with shiso

Mushroom filled with prawn

One prawn

Scallop with Sea Urchin

Sweet Potato

Vegetable Tempura with Rice and Teriyaki

Yoghurt Pannacotta


Tempura Hajime, 60 Park Street, South Melbourne

Tempura Hajime on Urbanspoon