Located at 383-385 Little Bourke St, Melbourne (03) 9670 7945, Bincho Boss opened on Wednesday 12 June 2019. In a prime CBD area, this is refined modern dining with authentic Japanese flavours and Japanese inspired drinks and cocktails like saké, umeshu, and Japanese whisky. This Izakaya (casual dining & drinking Japanese pub) in the heart of Melbourne near the bustling Hardware Lane dining strip derives its name from Binchō-tan, a type of high quality charcoal traditionally used in Japanese cooking.
David Strickland's Art along the wall leading to the upstairs dining area emulates the yokochos (alleyways) of Tokyo. Fresh tofu made in-house and signature dishes cooked on earthen Konro Grill over Binchō-tan will have you saying gochisousama (that was delicious or thank you for the meal) at the end of your experience; so, kanpai (cheers). The menu is created by multi-award winning Executive chef, Tomotaka Ishizuka and Head Chef Keiji Ishida. You can make a booking online or just drop in for lunch, dinner or drinks.
For dinner you can experience true Izakaya dining with the set menus at $55 per person (minimum of 2 people & full table must participate) for a 7 course Bincho or $85 per person for the signature 10 course The Boss, which is what I had. There is no substitution or menu alteration for this option. The first course was the house-made fresh Tofu with soy sauce, ginger, chives and salmon roe. It was unlike the firm tofu you can buy at the supermarket or Asian grocery stores. With a custard-like consistency, it's an acquired taste.
The second course of Carpaccio, duck fish with truffle dressing had an amazing taste and the flesh, though thinly sliced, was beautiful and firm. The pop of salad and sauces it came with had a delicious subtlety about it.
The next course of charcoal grilled Smoked Duck with a miso paste was deliciously smokey. It was wolfed down before you could say kanpai; and even though that sounds gluttonous, keep in mind, all the servings you see in the images are for three people.
Chicken Karaage (soy, ginger fried chicken) with potato wedges were a hit and wolfed down quick smart. The potato wedges were a surprise, but I was assured it's very much part of the modern Japanese cuisine.
Espresso Cream Caramel with chestnut sauce a Tomo Ishizuka's signature dessert. Decidedly different in flavour, to what you would conjure up in your memory as creme caramel but interesting. My phone camera doesn't do justice to the food, with pictures taken in the restaurant's low lighting. There's so much more to explore within the ŕ la carte menu.
On the drinks menu, you'll find a range of Japanese-inspired cocktails. Think… a Sake Negroni, a Matcha Highball, an Okinawa Sling and an Oriental Sour, complete with umeshu and yuzu. The sake list offers a multi-award winner alongside a light, fruity sparkling style and more rich, umami-driven ones. Japanese whiskies and gins round out the spirits, while the wine list highlights local winemakers from across the country as well as traditional umeshu.
With both upstairs and downstairs dining (approx. 70-seat capacity); downstairs offers a close-up, amongst-the-action dining experience complete with bar seating; while upstairs offers a more sophisticated atmosphere, perfect for group bookings.