Monday, December 29, 2008

December 19, 2008: Peko Peko

With L visiting from Brisbane, Cindy and I plotted a post-work evening in Fitzroy. We started out at Black Pearl for an early evening cocktail, and then headed across to Smith Street to try out Peko Peko.

Peko Peko is run by the same people who run the wonderful Otsumami in Northcote, so we turned up with high expectations. It has the same basic shtick - a menu broken into small, medium and big food sections, with plentiful vego options. After much discussion, we eventually settled on three dishes from the medium page and one from the big page between the three of us.

First up was the okonomyaki, served with a rich barbecue and Japanese mayo sauce, topped with shredded nori ($9). The pancake was tasty - not as cabbagey as I was expecting, but dense and crispy in all the right places; however the sauce was the star of the show. I was shameless enough to mop up the dregs with my fingers - judge me if you like, but taste the sauce for yourselves before condemning me.

Next up was the inevitable order of tempura vegies ($10) - sweet potato, eggplant, zucchini and tofu all fried up and served with a light dipping sauce. The tempura was executed as expertly as you'd expect from a good Japanese restaurant, and the inclusion of tofu in the mix was a bonus, but the soy sauce was a little too light for my tastes - a touch of wasabi or something would have given it the kind of kick that I favour.

Finally (the other dish we ordered was a fishy one for L, which was only a 'medium', but turned out to be both massive and delicious), the large dish: Yasai itamedon ($12) - eggplant, zucchini, capsicum, spinach and cabbage stir-fried in a rich teriyaki sauce, served on steamed rice.

This was a winner - a well aimed sauce, delicious fresh vegies and a pile of fluffy rice. It was a bit hard to share efficiently, but this is the kind of thing you come to Japanese restaurants for (at least if you're a vego); perfectly cooked, simple but impressive flavours and great, fresh ingredients. Yummo.

L and I happily knocked back a couple of Asahis, but Cindy was a bit more adventurous and went for a ginger and lemongrass tea (see the top picture) - it was super strong, you could feel your immune system improving with every sip.

Peko Peko is a cute little place, with a very stylish private dining room up in the back section, and a few unobtrusive features giving the walls a little life without slipping into cliche J-decor. The food was excellent and the service friendly, and we were all well impressed with the whole experience. Otsumami might just win out, but Peko Peko is right behind it - maybe a smidgin cheaper and well worth a visit.

Address: 199 Smith Street, Fitzroy
Ph: 9415 9609
Price: vego smalls: $3-$8, mediums: $8-$10, bigs: $12-$14


  1. I love Peko Peko! Except that sometimes when you order smalls and bigs the order in which they come it is a bit off kilter, I think they'r ebloody wonderful!
    I love looking down from the little enclave at the top onto the kitchen as they cook, and now am very excited about going back ...

  2. That okonomiyaki is SWIMMING in sauce. Looks tasty. I guess if Miss T has been there the vegan options were pretty good? I'll have to check it out. There's also a place opened in Collingwood called Wood Spoon that has loads of veg and a few vegan options marked on their menu. Which I also want to check out! Melbourne has so much veg Japanese food, yayz.

  3. all looks good - especially those vegetables in teriyaki sauce - there is something so refreshing about good Japanese veg food!

  4. Should have got the eggplant! It's AMAZING....

    (Hello from England! Where should I go in London for an amazing veggie meal before I head back to Italy?)

  5. I got introduced to Peko Peko late last year... YUM!!!!!
    Now I need some (breakfast perhaps?!)

  6. hehehehe i thought i spied you two at peko peko. we were getting take aways to celebrate my new tattoo. also i am really bad at talking to people in restaurants but i'm gladyou enjoyed yourself. i at everything in the back seat and it was all fucking delicious.

  7. i really enjoyed my meal at peko peko for my birthday, and the waitress had a really good understanding of what did and didn't have bonito stock in it.

  8. Miss T - we noticed that top section while we were eating, another group seemed to have booked it. Looks very cute!

    Yes, Lisa, I believe it's vegan friendly. It was actually Pip's birthday visit that first brought Peko Peko to my attention! I think I spied a review of Wooden Spoon on tummyrumbles recently...? Will add it to the list. :-)

    Johanna, I actually went off Japanese food for a couple of years after going vegetarian due to all the fish. I'm now thoroughly enjoying the range of fish-free options!

    Hiya Liz! I'll go back for the eggplant - the stuff at Otsumami was incredible, after all. I am probably too late to offer you any London recommendations, aren't I? I'm sorry! Internet access has been patchy over the holidays. If you've still got time, browse through our London posts: 1, 2, 3, 4.

    Jodes, it sure is yum; it also seems to be very popular!

    Hey Léna, I thought I recognised you just as you were leaving! Sorry I wasn't swift enough to give you a wave and a smile.

    Hi Philippa, I'm pretty sure I've unwittingly ingested non-veg stuff at other Japanese restaurants - it's great to find a place that knows what's what. Looks like Wooden Spoon know their way around vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free as well!

  9. I went to Peko Peko for lunch yesterday and loved it! Tempted to book out the private dining room bit for a big get together with friends soon. Delicious food :)

  10. Great, Jesska! The extra dining room is tempting, isn't it? I imagine you'd have to book well in advance. :-)