Peko Peko

“Where are we going?” flailed Muffin in excitement.

“I can’t tell you. It’s a SURPRISE. A food surprise!”

The food surprise was a place that I’d been longing to go since, well, since Where’s the Beef reviewed it way back in December 2008 (wow, you get to sampling things reeeeal quick, Hayley), Smith Street Japanese eatery Peko Peko.

We arrived bang on 6pm on a Friday night to an empty restaurant. But! We were promptly told that all the tables inside were completely booked out and our only option was to eat at one of the outside tables on the pavement. Shame, seeing as the space inside is cozy and gorgeously decked-out, but we acquiesced and sat outside. Funny though, by the time we left just over a hour later, there were still quite a few free tables inside. I honestly don’t mind being told by staff “You can sit inside, but have to be out by this time to make way for a booking”, this is the lot of the walk-in diner.

We started off with a wee bowl of miso soup each, which was good and refreshing, and featured a few cubes of silken tofu, I love that! We also ordered the tempura, the vegetable gyoza, and the chilli soba.

The tempura consisted of eggplant, tofu, sweet potato and zucchini, served with a light soy dipping sauce and a heavy sprinkling of shredded nori.  Goodness, I love shredded nori. Let’s have it on everything. The batter on the tempura was nice, light and not too oily, the dipping sauce was great (so much so that we kept hold of it to dip the gyoza in as well), though I seem to recall that we only got one piece of tofu? Muffin, did you get a bit of tofu or did I gobble it all up?!

The gyoza came next. Upon eagerly biting into them, Muffin and I immediately looked at each other and simultaneously said “Garlic chives!” Overwhelmingly garlic chives, in fact, neither of us felt we could taste much else. On my dissection of a gyoza I couldn’t discern much else in the filling other than said chives and some cabbage. Bit of a disappointment.

Any gyoza-related disappointment, however, was swiftly swept away by the chilli soba. Holy balls, was this dish amazing or what! I make a lot of these noodle and vegetable soups at home so am a little snobbish when ordering them out (clearly I secretly consider myself some kind of uncrowned Queen Of Soups), but this was something else: soba, chunks of more silken tofu, capsicum, beanshoots and this amazing broth that made Muffin and I swoon – I was completely guilty of filling my little bowl with just broth and drinking it down like it was your favourite delicious carbonated beverage of choice. We spent a fair amount of time discussing what exactly might comprise the broth to make it so delicious, but in the end just gave up in favour of consuming more broth.

Contented bellies all round, and a very enjoyable surprise dinner for my dining companion. Next time though I’ll be sure to book so we can eat inside, and might go for the sweet potato gyoza if I’m feeling dumpling-ish.

Peko Peko

199 Smith Street, Fitzroy

Ph: (03) 9415 9609

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