310 Flinders Ln
Melbourne, VIC 3000
In a bid to get healthier, and to continue the treadmill habit I picked up on my trip to Malaysia where I had way too much spare time and food to eat, I finally joined a gym. But gymming proved to be a lot more problematic than I thought; mainly, where do I eat after? You can’t eat just anything after a workout – there has to be enough protein and carbs, but not too much of either, it has to be nutritious yet light, and greasy junk food is of course a big no-no.
Luckily, Melbourne is swarming with Japanese restaurants, which fits the above bill perfectly. Hako is a small but esteemed restaurant in Flinders Lane that’s tucked away behind a small facade, serving premium Japanese food for those who have a few dollars to spare.
The interior of Hako is beautifully restrained in true Japanese style, the decorations restricted to empty bottles and branches artistically arranged in clay pots. The high ceilings give off a spare, zen vibe. The wait staff mirrored the decor – unobtrusive when they’re not required and demurely polite when they are. We were both relaxed and contented within a matter of minutes.
Crispy Prawn Tempura, Ginger Dashi Dipping Sauce ($13.5, 2pc)
We were going to have the lunch sets but whilst we were here, we may as well get their signature Crispy Prawn Tempura, Ginger Dashi Dipping Sauce ($13.5, 2pc). These prawns were huge, with flesh that was translucent and supple, and the bold ginger-soy broth really brought out the sweetness of the prawns. The tempura was spun around the prawns like fairy-floss around a stick, and was similarly melt-in-the-mouth.
Miso Soup
My lunch set came with some Miso Soup, served at the beginning with our beautiful prawn tempura. It was served without a spoon but I actually prefer being able to slurp it straight out of the bowl, occasionally stirring the miso paste into clouds with my chopsticks. And this one is hands down, the best I’ve tasted. Not too salty with a gentle but potent hit of umami, it had a depth of flavour that I never imagined that miso soup could have. Even Chris, who is ambivalent about the broth, was eyeing the last mouthful longingly (I let him have it).  
Sakedon Set ($16.5)

It’s not often that we get past the miso and tempura at a restaurant and are heartily impressed. We had high expectations for the mains, and our expectations fell short – but only just by a smidgen. My Sakedon Set ($16.5) consisted of fluffy rice topped with teriyaki salmon fillets, a side salad, and house-made pickles.

The salmon fillets were a bit dry, but the sauce was sweet and subtly flavoured, and did a great job of flavouring the rice along with the pickles, which were flavoursome without being too harsh. The side salad really goes beyond your average lettuce and tomato mix, consisting of spinach, crisp daikon and radish, doused in a nutty, gingery dressing.
Udon Noodle Soup ($16.5)
Udon Noodle Soup ($16.5)
Chris has this thing against bento boxes. His words were ‘they have bits I like, then bits I don’t like’. In other words he’d rather be safe than adventurous. And how could you go wrong with Udon Noodle Soup ($16.5)? The perfectly chewy noodles swam in an earthy soup flavoured with shiitake mushrooms, enriched by the soft-boiled egg bobbing in the middle. Served along with pieces of chicken and a mix of tempura, this was a rustic but meticulously made bowl of noodles worth paying the premium for.  
I’m glad I’ve decided to start revisiting restaurants that I like more often, because we’re both really keen to come back and sample Hako’s dinner menu. We’ve seen the care they take with the food, and we hope that the prawn tempura, which is off their dinner menu, is a good indicator of everything else on offer. And the miso soup. Lots of miso soup.
Rating: 15/20 – miso powered.

Hako on Urbanspoon

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  • Reply Peach 09/03/2013 at 11:30 pm

    Hello twin :P

    Haha – you know, I’ve been pondering over the possibility of joining a gym, using my game subscriptions to pay for it. But man.. it seems so much effort :P no this, no that! hahaha

    Oh >.< I've had hako on my to do list, and yet to go. sigh.
    shame that the salmon was dry though! >.< And… argh haven’t had udon for yonks! Let’s catch up some time? :) Love,

    • Reply ming 12/03/2013 at 9:24 am

      Hello my fruity twin haha <3

      Man no one told me that being a grown up was just budgeting and budgeting; I suppose taking money out of eating is a complete no-no for us food bloggers!

      Definitely go to Hako though; I would recommend for dinner cos their menu looks so so good. And definitely get the miso, I had no idea miso could taste so beautiful <3

      And if it’s udon you’re craving… have you been to nama nama? BEST!

      And yes lets definitely catch up soon! :)

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