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