The May opening of FudoDori was more the beginning of a movement than a simple opening. It was the start of a project that promises to gradually introduce an array of food concepts showcasing the width and depth of Asian cuisine. The precinct kicked off proceedings with the opening of LUCHA Kitchen + Bar and Koto Sanpo, a contemporary Chinese restaurant and bar and Kyoto tea house-inspired cafe, respectively. These Elizabeth Street-facing locales have been drawing in droves of diners since launch, and now FudoDori’s Charlotte Street entrance boasts a lively eatery of its own in the form of Yakiniku Hachi. Yakiniku – a Japanese term that, in its broadest sense, refers to ‘grilled meat’ – just about sums up what’s on the cards for curious diners. This spot specialises in Japanese-style barbecue, more specifically charcoal-grilled fare (think sizzling cuts of wagyu beef, pork, seafood and vegetables) and tantalising sides. Japanese yakiniku cuisine varies in style between luxurious high-end experiences and a more action-packed casual vibe, Yakiniku Hachi aims for an approachable mid point – a relaxed atmosphere serving high-end produce. The 52-seat interior has been designed to be intentionally raw, with a light-industrial aesthetic of timber and steel providing a sturdy stage for the barbecue itself, which will naturally draw all attention. While the scent of grilling meat proves intoxicating in the moment, polished extractor fans help minimise the aroma sinking into your clothes and hair. These fans descend from the ceiling, snatching the grill smoke as it rises and sending it to an impressive electromagnetic filter system installed in the ceiling. Although the layout caters more for groups, Yakiniku Hachi also has bench seating facing the kitchen, where solo diners or pairs can grill underneath smaller fans built into the counter.
Once seated, it’s time to grill. A special earthy charcoal grill pot – known as a shichirin – is placed in front of you and ignited, gradually heating up in anticipation of the first morsel. It’s at this point you get acquainted with the menu, which lists Yakiniku Hachi’s array of proteins. Each page showcases a different selection of cuts, from recognisable pieces (wagyu steaks with a marble score of 9+, beef ribs, pork loin, butterfly cut prawns, seasonal vegetables) to more adventurous choices (pork tongue, offal and beef heart, for example). The kitchen takes a strict nose to tail approach, utilising as much of the animal to avoid wastage. Once you’ve selected your cuts, the kitchen quick-marinates each in a designated sauce. It’s important to note that Japanese yakiniku differs from Korean barbecue here – where Korean barbecuers marinate meat over a few days, Japanese kitchens douse the meat once the order docket arrives. Each page of the menu assigns a recommended marinade for each meat – wagyu is soaked in special soy marinade, pork and chicken in salt and sesame, offal in a special miso sauce. While your order cooks, consider bolstering the feast with some sides – Yakiniku Hachi’s menu also includes the likes of shio-seasoned cabbage, whole tomato salad, octopus karaage, wakame salads and more. Also worth noting is the selection of sizzling yaki curries and spicy soups, which will help fill any gaps. As the barbecue process is labour intensive, it can be difficult to squeeze a proper meal into a lunch break. As such, Yakiniku Hachi does not offer barbecue during weekdays, instead serving up a salivation-inducing selection of lunch options. Yakiniku Hachi is currently awaiting approval of its liquor licence, so BYO is currently welcome. Once it the license is approved, a drinks menu including sake, Asahi, Hachi Lager (the restaurant’s own light and crisp house beer) and a selection of chuhai (shochu-based mixed drinks) will be available.
FudoDori’s second wave of openings is set to continue next week when Love Roll Sushi and Poke opens to the public. Work is also progressing on the precinct’s other arrivals, including Amai Kawaii Dessert Depot, a forthcoming Thai eatery and an enticing hot-pot concept. For now, you can find more details of Yakiniku Hachi in the Stumble Guide.