Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya, Fitzroy
Try saying that name fast five times over. Funky interior stylings and hip staff make Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya a super cool spot for some not-so-traditional Japanese food stylings. Catalina and I popped in for a quick dinner before a film and we loved half the dishes we ordered and were a bit meh on the other half. It’s a huge menu so we had to seek advice from the staff on what to order from the countless options. It’s all sharing style. The tataki, lamb and (maybe) tofu were our favourites, with well-paced delivery and interesting and punchy flavour combos. The lamb I would come back for alone. The gyoza was more run of the mill and the eggplant dish didn’t have the right balance. It’s a large space at Ichi Ni Nana, and a loud one at that. We were fine to find a walk in table. Service was a little inconsistent but the vibe of the place is good, and do book if you don’t want to miss out.
The tataki ($18) was the first dish to arrive. It’s not a cheap dining experience at Ichi Ni Nana, but it is pretty. The slices of the scotch fillet were super tender and complemented with the ginger and soy dressing. Plenty of garnish to bulk up the visual size, but I was happy to pay for such fine beef.
Then things took a tofu turn. The agedashi tofu ($14) is served with mountain vegetables, broth and fried leek. I liked the circle execution with the broth with a nice mix of sweet and savoury notes. The only thing about tofu served this way is you need a good helping to broth in eating it since it doesn’t quite permeate through the full mass of tofu goodness. A good filler.
Then the gyoza. I thought these were a bit more forgettable, as I forget which filling we had ordered. The grill marks wasn’t quite as vivid as I like on my dumplings, and the inside was fine. At about $8-$10 for four of these kids, it isn’t really worth it for a few bites.
Cata and I adored this dish. The lamb saikyo yaki ($18) is two lamb cutlets that are charcoal grilled and coated in a sweet miso. This miso is to die for. It’s a lovely, exciting sweetness that is addictive and perfect on the lamb. The lamb was well prepared with in being medium rare and an enticing char, unlike the gyozas of yesterday.
Our final dish had us a little puzzled. The eggplant dish features long cuts coated in a sweet, teriyaki-like sauce. The balance of the sauce wasn’t there with it tasting a bit too rich and much too overpowering on the eggplant. You do get a fun five on the plate and it made sure we ended our experience full. But we weren’t that motivated to finish it. So overall we liked the cool vibe of Ichi Ni Nana, some of the dishes were fantastic and some were more pedestrian. Right through it remains a pricey affair but is hip factor might make it enticing for your next booking.