Akachochin is a top class modern authentic Japanese izakaya dining experience in impressive South Wharf. Even on a week night the restaurant is packed. Walk in to the modern chic room and enjoy seating in the main dining area at tables or settle in at the bar in proximity to the chefs.
A chic fit out includes high ceilings, timber paneling and soft lighting, original timber floors, eclectic naked hanging bulbs, an elevated bar area with marble bar, open kitchen and a Japanese minimalist theme.
This is a truly authentic Japanese experience. Thats why the restaurant was full of Japanese but also a diversity of ages and backgrounds. The Head Chef Kengo Hiromatsu is a chef of the highest order and is ex Nobu. Part of the thrill for us was to see Chef Kengo at work and to actually engage him in conversation.
We are superbly hosted by outstanding waitresses who are extremely friendly and knowledgeable. Straight away we are introduced to premium Sake, which happens to be Gingo Hana, a fruity sake served cold. Delicious. With my wife present I was told by the waitress it was traditional to pour Sake to each other. We obliged. Quite fun.
The Hiramasa Namerou w Rice Crackers is a signature dish of note. Absolutely sensational it is like a Japanese tartar. The kingfish is sublime with the crunch of the rice cracker. The oil of the fish balanced by the crunch of the cracker. A punch of wasabi gives it that kick. It is a sophisticated and delicate dish.
The Curried scallops were also excellent with a sophisticated curry flavour but keeping the scallops the hero of the dish. They were served on a bed of salt which I mistook for potato (I need new glasses methinks).
A bit of fun (which we associate with Paul Mathis restaurants) was the Chicken wing dumpling. This takes great technique. I love dumplings and this is such a refreshing take on a classic dish. The dumpling is fashioned from the chicken wing. The filling was wonderful, important in any dumpling. I admit picking up the chicken wing to eat it, although placing it on a serviette. Great with a sprinkle of lemon.
We were keen to try the Buta Kakuni pork belly. This was an interesting dish as I'm used to fatty pork belly (which I love). This was also sophisticated as a braised tretment of the meat simmered in sweet soy sauce and Japanese mustard and shiraga-negi. The pork belly just melted in the mouth and was great with a hit of the Japanese mustard. It didn't seem fatty at all. So render.
By this time Head Chef Kengo was speaking to Japanese customers at the bar in Japanese. So cool. Then he would turn and speak to us in English. He is so consumate as a Chef, working with precision yet still able to engage customers. Asking us what we thought of some of the dishes.
Another highlight was the Steamed snapper Shinsyu Mushi w shimeji mushroom and green tea noodles in clear soup. Another sophisticated dish. Those green tea noodles are fantastic - would love to recreate them at home. The snapper was of course cooked to perfection and the mushrooms sensational. It worked so well as a dish and we wanted more. Sublime falvour and balance.
It was great to have the wasabi on the side to add to the broth, controlling the amount of heat you wanted in the dish. We went for broke and added all the wasabi to get a fair bit of kick.
Next was another winner, the Salmon sushi with onion salsa. You can tell straight away Head Chef Kengo is the sushi king. To come here and not order sushi might be criminal. After all Head chef Kengo was famous for his sushi at Nobu. Aburi sushi soy marinated seared salmon with onion salsa was sensational.
The slight char or searing on the salmon made a big difference and was delectable.
On a sushi roll, we next enjoyed the Ebi cucumber inside out roll w prawn, cucumber, mayo and masago topped with bubuarare. Crunch on the outside and fresh and delighful flavours inside.
All the while the waitresses are explaining all the dishes and are so upbeat and professional. We found this to be some of the best service we've had in Melbourne.
On a cold blustery night Akachochin was a warm inviting and chic destination with a great ambience. Its the traditional element combined with modernity which pleases. Along with delicate and sophisticated cuisine it's the attitude and engaging staff which bring the wow factor to the experience.
As we left Head Chef Kengo engaged us again. A great night indeed.