A glowing toro lantern and a neon-lit sign for sushi hang outside the window at Swan Hill restaurant, Niko Niko. They’re a firm indicator of the meal ahead, which is made even clearer by the rows upon rows of rice-filled handrolls lining the display cabinet just beyond the front door.
Niko Niko is a sushi bar in one sense, slinging rolls and sashimi of every size and colour. These little parcels are prepared fresh daily and come stuffed with koshihikari rice, often avocado and cucumber, plus the filling of your choice. Teriyaki chicken, salmon and fried bean curd are all classics. It goes without saying the California roll is alive and well in Swan Hill.
But mainly, it’s a sit-down affair inside a long, muraled dining space, with both Japanese and Korean staple dishes on the menu. Start with something like oysters and ponzu sauce, yakitori (grilled chicken thigh skewers), and some sashimi before moving on to the mains. Tempura seafood dishes, donburi rice bowls and noodles served with soup or yakiudon (stir-fried) style are in no short supply.
The chef’s special menu is where you’ll find the bulk of the Korean fare – fried chicken done three ways and bibimbap served in a stone hot pots. This is all perfect drinking food, so pair dishes with some Asahi off the tap or local brews by the bottle. Piquant bottles of saké are served warm or at room temperature.