First published on 9 May 2013. Updated on 18 Feb 2014.
Good news, sophisticated lunch fans. Simon Denton's stunning Japanese cocktail bar (Hihou) is now open during the day. But this isn't a case of them just extending their opening hours. They're not offering cocktails, or bar snacks you may have come to know and love like the Hihou hotdog. Rather, they're using the stunning space overlooking the Treasury Gardens to stage sushi and set-menu lunches.
Look for the unmarked door on your left as you turn onto Flinders Lane off of Spring Street. Ring the doorbell. You'll be escorted upstairs and sat at the bar by a dude in a suit.
This is essentially a premium version of the set lunches offered at Izakaya Den. Which means there's less hip hop and foil-topped sake cups, and more fancy ingredients at play.
You can go a la carte. Make a meal of sweet freshly shucked Coffin Bay oysters, some grilled slippery jack mushrooms and sashimi. This latter is sliced to order in front of you by sushi chef weilding some deadly serious Japanese steel. Salmon and kingfish are fanned across the plate and served with nothing but a touch of seaweed and a modest notch of wasabi – they obey the rules of sushi superhero Jiro Ono here. That means no soy sauce and no asking for California hand rolls, y'hear?
Or go for the set-menu. You'll start with a mini-platter of say, sashimi and a delicate salad of raw scallops and snow peas in a miso dressing, followed by the likes of Angus rump gently seared over a charcoal grill and served with a cleansing broth, rice and Japanese-style tomato relish. Or maybe it will be hoso udon – fine noodles and fat diamond clams in delicate fishy-salty Kansai broth with pockets of deep-fried bean curd stuffed with seaweed.
The set will cost you $35 including tea or coffee – but you'll also want dessert. Mostly because it's laid out in front of you in bento boxes. Anyone who can walk away without snagging a delicate yuzu curd tart deserves a damn medal.
Swing by for a quick business lunch or get a bottle of sake or shochu and stay all afternoon. Lunch, you're looking fancy.
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