On a cracking mid-week evening I crossed-town for dinner at Ichi Ni with my mother and friends R and A, to celebrate A’s recent engagement. I rarely make it over to St Kilda but it really was a magic night, with that crazily blue sky, the sun setting and people everywhere sitting outdoors enjoying a drink or three.
I have been quite slow to the Ichi Ni bandwagon, partly due to the fact that I rarely go to St Kilda and also due to the somewhat mixed reviews that I have read (amongst some critics there were positive reviews from Tomato, That Jess Ho and tummyrumbles). Ichi Ni does two sittings, so we opted for an 8pm booking so our table wouldn’t be turned over. On this Wednesday night we arrived and it was frantically busy:
Apparently it is like this all the time, so you should definitely book!
Ichi Ni is an Izakaya, which is a casual Japanese eatery. The menu is divided into ‘tapas’ (which is a pet-hate of mine – just because it is small does not mean it is tapas!), yakitori (skewers), sushi and sashimi, maki, salads and main-style dishes on rice. We decided to share a selection of smaller dishes.
First up, I had some miso ($3.50), which didn’t turn out well in the photograph. It had good flavour and included some cubes of silken tofu, which I really love in a miso.
We had some ‘tapas’ dishes, first gyoza ($10):
Then pork belly ($10):
In the battle of porky-foods, the gyoza won. While not the most amazing gyoza I have ever had, it was tasty and moist. The pork-belly was a bit too rich for me and had a little bit of gristle. It was my least favourite dish of the night.
From the ‘tapas’ menu we also ordered some seafood tempura ($12):
The serve included 2 prawns, white-fish, sweet potato and eggplant. The tempura was hot and fresh although the batter was a bit thick in parts. The pickled vegetable tartare was fine but not memorable.
On to the yakitori, we ordered some wagyu ($18 for two skewers):
We also had some ‘king prawn’:
These are not really what I would call ‘king prawns’ but they were delicious nonetheless. The wagyu was also very good – flavoursome and tender.
We also had the large sashimi platter ($25):
Beautifully presented, it was tasty as well.
We also opted to share some desserts, first the ice-cream tasting plate:
I had a hankering for green-tea ice-cream but unfortunately there was none to be seen. My favourite flavour was the slightly odd edamame, which contained little chunks of frozen soy-bean. The pumpkin and cheesecake flavours were nice enough. The balsamic was very strong and completely unpalatable, it really tasted like balsamic vinegar and had a sourness to it.
We also shared a special which was a chocolate -filled spring roll, with caramel covered ice-cream:
This was surprisingly good, with hot oozing chocolate and the cold ice-cream. Another special on the night was a black sesame panacotta which we ordered, but sadly was sold out.
Overall, this was a solid meal with mostly hits and a couple of misses. The food is good but I preferred my Izakaya experience at Izakaya Den. That said, Ichi Ni is great for a casual night out with friends. I will definitely be back!
12 The Esplanade
St Kilda VIC
Ph: (03) 9534 1212