From its name, it’s obvious what Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya is, an izakaya, duh. Izakayas are Japanese-style pubs, serving up a range of dishes aimed for sharing.
Unlike izakayas back in Japan, Ichi Ni Nana sprawls over four levels, with the top being a rooftop bar, a good place to grab a few drinks while you’re waiting for a table. There are a range of types of seatings available, including larger tables in the courtyard and intimate booth.
The menu was extensive, ranging from traditional Japanese tapas such as nasu dengaku, chicken karaage and gyozas, to sushis and sashimis, with Western influence throughout.
Chicken mince piled on ricecake skewers, this was not something that I’ve had before, and I really enjoyed it. The chicken mince were flavoured with a touch of soy, and were very morish when had with a bite of ricecake.
This eggplant dish is one of my favourites in Japanese restaurants, and Ichi Ni Nana has put its own twist on the traditional dish. Sections of eggplant were covered in the miso sauce that was oh-so-addictive, and left us wanting more.
The thinly sliced scotch fillet were seared perfectly and very tender. The salad on top added some extra texture, I especially enjoyed the fried garlic pieces that’s hiding underneath the green leaves.
Still on the soft shell crab bandwagon, we picked it from the tempura section. The batter was light and crispy, and the soft shell crab were as good as all soft shell crabs, though nothing out of the ordinary. Also, the portion was on the small side.
We picked two varieties of gyoza on the night, the first being the chicken. The chicken filling was again, light and flavoursome, and the skin was extremely thin.
The pork gyoza were equally as delicious, tasting more meaty than its chicken counterpart. My only complaint about the gyozas is that I wish they had a crispier bottom.
Continuing the soft shell crab trend, the first sushis we ordered was the soft shell crab roll. The roll was filled with soft shell crab, avocado and cucumber, and topped with tobiko and Japanese mayo. Although not a traditional sushi, the roll tasted fresh, and the soft shell crab added more texture to the plate.
Being an even more untraditional dish, the dragon roll was an inside out sushi roll with seared tuna, cucumber, avocado, and topped with tobiko, Japanese mayo, spring onion and chilli sauce. Every bite of this was a flavour explosion, and dish was also very visually appealing.
The star of the night, and probably the most instagrammed dish from Ichi Ni Nana. The platter had all sorts of sushi and sashimi, including but not limited to sashimi in the forms of (because I can’t remember them all oops): salmon, tuna, kingfish, octopus, cuttlefish and scallops. The sushi included all of the above, as well as tamago, prawn, salmon roe and eel. All the seafood were very fish, and this platter not only looked spectacular, but also left us feeling very content.
Offering a large variety of dishes that accommodates both Japanese lovers and those who are still being introduced to the cuisine, Ichi Ni Nana is a good place for group gathering, intimate dinners and the like. If you are going in a big group or on a busy night, make sure you make a booking ahead of time, or, be prepared to wait for a bit on rooftop bar, which certainly isn’t the worst thing in the world.
How to get here:
Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya is located on Brunswick Street, catch tram #86 towards Bundoora RMIT and get off at the Brunswick Street/Gertrude Street stop, and the restaurant is 350 metres away. Alternatively, catch tram #11 towards West Preston from Parliament Station and get off at the Hanover Street/Brunswick Street stop, and the restaurant is 100 metres away.