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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Peko Peko

"Peko Peko" is Japanese for "Golden Yummy."

Okay, not really - but it might as well be.

I have been to Peko Peko (199 Smith Street, Collingwood) many times, but this was the first time I thought to blog it. I did my usual forget-photos thing, but I WILL get more. Promise. Mainly because it's so yummy I know I'll be going back soon. When I like a place, I go there over and over, and can therefore add new details from each visit (case in point: Three Bags Full. And Backstreet Eating).

Peko Peko is the Smith Street sista-from-another-mister... or just sister... to Otsumami in Northcote, whose reputation is generally top-notch. I've not been, but I'd like to, and I really like saying the name. OTSU-mami! Ot-su-MAMI! ("Sake-to-me!" Groooooaaaan.)  Like "Tootgarook", it's just too much fun not to say aloud.

I digress.

The best part about my recent visit to Peko Peko was the pretty, pretty sake. It's almost a shame to drink it because - imagine how valuable those bits of gold are!

The food is ALWAYS quality. What I like about it is that you get all the delicious traditional Japanese flavours and textures - light, sweet, soy, fresh - but they're not afraid to veer away from your bog-standard Japanese dishes served at every single Japanese restaurant in the whole world (it feels like).

For example, the agedashi tofu is beautifully cooked and presented, and there's not a lot you can do to mix it up:

Agedashi Tofu

But instead of your standard vegies, we had tempura MUSHROOMS (Oh. Em. Gee):

Tempura Mushrooms (all kinds). Mm hmmmmm.

We also had some delicious prawns - they were small, but peeled, plus there were heaps and they were soooo flavourful. (No pic... yes, I suck.)

The gyoza are a bit different, too: there's chickeny ones with coriander and stuff, and then some pumpkin ones. You can even get Nutella gyoza for dessert. There's black sesame ice-cream on offer, too, and I noticed on Otsumami's menu there are mochi available. I didn't see those on offer at Peko Peko but I would SO go there if they were. (Mochi are these funny squishy ice-cream thingies, available in all different flavours. They look kinda like blown-up macarons but are even DELICIOUSER*. Google-Images them, they're ahhhmaaaaazing.)

The vibe at Peko Peko is pretty chilled, and the staff don't talk a whole lot. They can be hard to flag down, but I have never found them to be rude. 

Design is simple: sparse, dark and warm. There are a few traditional Japanese touches, but nothing too cutesy or smothering. A tiered wooden shelving unit (resembling a staircase) provides a sort of mental divide between the kitchen and dining areas, and upstairs is a function room, visible from the ground level through a cut-out space in the wall. Modern! 

Out back is a sloping, bricked courtyard which houses the loos and some half-hearted fairy lighting. If the amenities weren't right there, it would probably be a lovely space to sit of a summer evening. 

It's not a large restaurant; definitely advisable to book, if you can. Most times I've been there it's been busy, and I've been turned away more than once. And not just because I looked like a hobo. (Wait, is that offensive? If so... sorry.)

Peko Peko is one of those places that I will mourn if it ever closes. It's just lovely. 

*New word. I said so.

Update: 11 January 2014 

Another recent-ish visit to Peko YUMMO afforded me the new knowledge that they also offer takeaway (awesome), and even drop food next door to Kent St Bar & Cafe.

I also thought it was worth nothing that our waitress was very artily dressed, but dour-faced, and the regular-dressed other waitress was much smilier. Must be something in those clothes putting your FROWN UPSIDE-DOWN, Arty Chick.

Additional pictures! (see, I TOLD YOU I WOULD)

Wooden staircase shelf thingy... storage too!

Cool placemats

Menu, for your visual and informational pleasure

Peko Peko on Urbanspoon