I love having foodie pals. We might not talk much during the year, especially if they’re residing overseas, but the second they’re back in town and we’ve got a meal organised…it’s always the best time.
Em’s one of those people, when she sprung a surprise trip on family and friends earlier in the year (she lives in London at the moment), we quickly organised a trip to Fitzroy to check out Ichi Ni Nana, the newest in the Ichi Ni Izakaya family.
The building is huge, spanning 3 floors with a different concept on each floor. I was a bit early for our initial booking, so headed straight up to level 3, to the rooftop bar where Melbourne turned it on with blue skies and sunshine. Dominique Portet rose from the Yarra Valley was the only suitable wine choice.
Before long, I got the call that we were perhaps enjoying the sunshine a little too long and were now running very late for our booking at Ichi Ni Nana!
So back to the ground floor we went, and into the restaurant, dimly lit with dark woods, and a gorgeous covered courtyard.
We left ordering in the hands of the owner and the staff and were not disappointed.
We started with the Shiromi carpaccio, thinly sliced kingfish served with ginger wasabi sauce, which was a gorgeous and spritely way to wake the palate. Refreshing and zingy.
Em was almost beside herself with the ebi mayo came out, battered prawns tossed in karashi mayo, and after a bite, I quickly understood her excitement. The prawns are meaty and sweet, with a light batter and all that delicious kewpie-style mayo goodness we love. It’s a decadent combination.
Might not photograph well (dark, on dark, in a dark space…), but the wagyu gyoza (with what I assume is a squid ink skin) was rich and tender.
The Lamb Saikyo Yaki - charcoal grilled sweet miso glazed lamb cutlets, are a bit pricey at $18 for two pieces, but they are tender and succulent. It’s terrible difficult to go past a sweet miso glaze as well, with the surface of the lamb with just enough char on it as well.
The Volcano Roll is a pretty modern take on sushi, an inside out roll filled with asparagus, salmon and prawn, coated in flamed spicy scallop sauce which had a bit of heat (as promised).
But the real masterpiece, and also why you shouldn’t let staff order for you, was the Ichi Ni Nana Platter…which came out at the end of our meal. What a feast on the eyes! This could have very comfortably fed Em and I in totality…but after a full dinner, it’s a lot of sushi to look at!
The quality of the fish was lovely, with cool, thick cuts of fish, that just melt in the mouth. I particularily enjoyed the scallop sashimi that were included on this dish, which had a dollop of hot sauce or something equivalent, which really popped against the sweetness of the scallop.
And yet, despite all that we still squeezed in a green tea ice-cream at the end. Because if you’re going to go hard…you may as well go all the way.
Ichi Ni Nana was definitely a fun girl’s night out; not all the flavours or execution are going to be traditional, but that’s not what these guys are doing. It’s fun, it’s big, it’s flavour and it’s a good time.
127 Brunswick Street