Like a view with your imported beer, or an ocean zephyr to compliment your nori rolls? Flashy izakaya Ichni Ni thinks you might. Right next door to Melbourne institution, The Espy, Ichi Ni is a vibrant casual dining jewel on the Esplanade strip of St Kilda, with an unimpeded view of Port Phillip Bay.
Sprawled on the expansive front veranda, choose from sticky yakitori skewers, the cool flavours of fresh sashimi and a long list of Sake or Japanese beers. For a more performative touch, you can’t beat sitting at the open kitchen/sushi bar where you can watch the chefs in action from three sides – and it’s pretty thrilling being that close to chef Yasuhiro Fukuhara’s (ex-Taxi and 100 Mile Cafe) team artfully slicing and dicing with samurai sharp blades.
There’s a sense of theatre here – from the hypnotising emerald green ceiling, to the raised levels and vibrant red curtains. Sure it’s a sister to the Espy next door (also owned by Vince Sofo and Paul Adamo) and the Izakaya style menu might be the Japanese equivalent of bar food, but this is a far cry from your average pub counter-lunch. And that balcony is a winner.
Note: Take-away options greet you from the "to-go" sushi stand just inside the heavy wooden doors.