Melbourne’s latest izakaya Bincho Boss offer refined bites, hearty mains and punchy libations that would satisfy the pickiest diners.
Bincho Boss’ chic glass frontage is moments away from Melbourne’s famed GPO shopping strip, primed for shoppers looking to take a breather, treat themselves to a delightful snack and sip on something stronger than an espresso shot. Stepping through the sliding glass door, visitors are welcomed by a full length bar offering a variety of tempting potations. There’s lovely house curated wine by the glass (or the bottle), draft beers and ciders. For lovers of Japanese liquors, there’s imported sakes, Japanese whiskies, Japanese gins and bottled Japanese craft beers.
The first floor space is taken up by bar-style seats and tables, the perfect watering hole for corporate warriors and high powered executives to unwind with tumblers of Japanese whiskies and cups of sake after a hectic day at the office. For families and couples looking for a more intimate dining experience, seated dining areas are available on the second level, up a charming mural print stairway. The ambience is relaxed here, with deep wooden tones, tan cushions and banks of windows letting in a stream of warm daylight.
The restaurant’s head chef Keiji Ishida is a veteran chef who had worked in Tokyo’s demanding and fast-paced Izakaya restaurants, rubbing shoulders with famed culinary maestros and celebrity chefs before making his way down under. In Australia, Chef Ishida worked in award-winning dining venues throughout Byron Bay and Melbourne, his latest stint prior to Bincho Boss as a senior chef in the highly acclaimed Kisume.
At Bincho Boss, head chef Ishida collaborated with executive chef Tomotaka Ishizuka (former head chef of Ishizuka restaurant) to curate a menu which centred on the use of Bincho (Japanese charcoal grill). The restaurant specialises in authentic Izakaya dining – meticulously prepared grilled items and inventive Japanese-inspired cocktails made with top quality local and imported ingredients.
For starters, the fresh tofu is a dish which comes highly recommended by the chef. The tofu is hand made daily, with mild sweetness and silky soft texture. A thin layer of house made dashi stock offers the perfect savoury counterbalance to the dish. Each of the toppings offers a different dimension of flavour, brininess from the fish roe, warmth spice by the ginger, earthiness from the taro stem, and the zestiness of the slivers of chives.
A dish we really enjoyed was the smoked duck breast. The duck is house smoked for days on end, finished off with a light sear over the Bincho. Smoky with the right amount of fat, tender with a nice springy chew, the duck is nestled on a dab of sweet red miso sauce, tangy and moreish mustard sauce and dressed with a sprig of red sorrel leaf.
Simply called the Wagyu, the salt baked wagyu grade 8+ is a spectacle to behold. A porterhouse steak is wrapped in banana leaves which in turn is buried under a mountain of salt and baked. The result is a marbled, decadent cut cooked to medium rare perfection. A touch or two of the soy based sesame steak sauce finishes of the dish.
For cold winter days, we would order the salmon ochazuke. The humble dish of steamed rice and flaky salmon topped with generous mound of nori, drowned in green tea broth and sprinkled over with crisp rice puffs epitomes the virtue of simplicity. The hearty bowl of comfort is best paired with a warm cup of sake (or three).
385 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD
T: (+61) 396 707 945
Prices $$ (30-60)(fair)
Cuisine Top notch nibbles and brews
Verdict The house made fresh tofu is a lovely starter. For cocktails, the Okinawa Sling is a lovely twist on the original Singaporean cocktail.