Rejoice, lovers of obscure Japanese condiments and milk drinks in cans: Smith Street has just taken possession of a specialist Japanese pantry and sushi bar

There’s not a lot in the way of fresh vegetables at Hinoki, but if it’s Japanese and not illegal, they’ve got it. The shelves of this sleek blonde supermarket are stuffed with curry cubes, karaage chicken batter (the KFC of Japan) and hundreds of boxes of luminous sweet things with rosy-cheeked children and panda mascots.

But it’s not all Pocky Sticks, udon and things that could survive the apocalypse. They also make-and-freeze the likes of pork gyoza in-house so you can fake-it-yourself at home.

In the fridge, right next to the rainbow cans of Boss coffee and radiant blue Hawaiian sodas (looks exotic, tastes like blue) you’ll find house-made pickles, seaweed salads and fillets of sashimi-grade salmon. Give the chuka chinmi a poke – a nutty, chewy fish mix of diced scallops, jellyfish and black fungus rolled in sesame seeds and oil.

They’re not messing around at the sushi bar either. There are a few pre-made lunch packs but most fish is sliced on demand for eating at the little benches in the window. It’s good too. You can get fresh scallop and even surf clam sashimi (sort of like a big pipi), and while they do a Western-style cooked tuna roll, it’s prepared in house - not tinned.

Until the full booze license comes through they can only stock a handful of sakes, plum wines, and beers but they’re compensating for limited range with maximum volume. How about a litre can of Asahi? That’s a whole drinking session with only one trip to the fridge. Go for the European style Kolsch from Niigata microbrewery if you’re feeling more crafty.

Head to the Chef’s Armoury in Richmond if you want Japanese steel and a charcoal grill – but if you’re after fifty shades of soy sauce and sushi rice by the sack, you’re all set.

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First published on . Updated on .

By Gemima Cody   |   Photos by Graham Denholm

Hinoki Japanese Pantry details

Address
279 Smith St, Fitzroy 3065

Telephone 03 9417 4531

Open Tue-Thu 10am-6pm; Fri-Sat 10am-7pm; Sun 10am-4pm

Hinoki Japanese Pantry map

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