Hidden Japanese gem in Melbourne.
Hihou is hidden away on the end of Flinders Lane. We arrived at what we believed to be a front door and rang the doorbell. After being greeted with a bright white light shining in our eyes, we were shortly welcomed by a smartly dressed older man who led us up a small staircase and passed a small bar to an intimate dining area. Here, we were asked to remove our shoes before being seated at our ‘table’ – imagine a big leather sofa with a small table on the end.
Although the dining seats were quite close to each other, the dining area was dimly lit and the decor dark. It was designed to give the impression of privacy and separation which was a nice touch.
From being welcomed at the front door to leaving Hihou, the service was very good. Empty dishes were taken away very soon after we had finished with them – which was great considering we were sat on this “sofa” with our legs up and a clumsy person could easily kick or knock cups or plates off.
You can order small pates, larger individual plates and sharing plates. We went for a mixture:
- ‘Cuban’ spicy tuna cigar
- Eel and tofu croquettes with tonkatsu sauce
- Buckwheat crepes – duck breast, pickled mushroom and leek
- Crisp pork belly – apple yakiniku, pickled tomato and cucumber
- Fried potato and sweet potato with tamari caramel sauce
The star dish here were the buckwheat duck crepes. The duck was cooked perfectly and the way the food was presented allowed you to make your own crepes with the pickled mushrooms and leeks making it a hands-on dish which we quite enjoy.
The crisp pork belly was nice however it was a bit chewy so could well have been overcooked slightly. There wasn’t enough of the apple yakiniku sauce so as there was some leftover caramel sauce from the potatoes dish, we were delighted to discover that it worked a treat with the crisp pork belly! The crisp pork belly and the fried potato and sweet potato dishes go well together and we would recommend having the two together.
The croquettes and the ‘cuban’ cigar were great starters. The cigar is something a little bit different – Japanese tuna mince wrapped in a wafer, pleasing on the eyes, delicious in the tummy. The croquettes were very nicely done and the tonkatsu sauce complimented them perfectly.
As it was also a bar, we treated ourselves to two varieties of Japanese plum wine.
A definite hidden gem. More suitable to small groups and couples. We would revisit this place on a special occasion.