A large part of the menu at Japanese-style brunch spot Hibiki is based on owner Reiji Honour’s mum’s cooking.
“Still to this day I call randomly at lunchtime and be like, ‘Mum, how do I cook this chicken to perfection?’” he says, laughing.
The okonomiyaki is one of those dishes. The cabbage and spring onion pancake is topped with Bull-Dog sauce, Kewpie mayo, bonito flakes, nori and – optional – bacon.
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Another standout is the milk toast (“very famous in Japan”), a soft, thick slice of white bread not quite as sweet as brioche. Order it plain with a cube of cold butter, or with matcha custard cream and black-sesame ice-cream. Yuzu porridge made up of organic oats soaked in almond milk, with pear and apple compote, yuzu mascarpone, toasted buckwheat, fresh raspberries and sliced orange.
A tuna tataki bowl comes with fresh avocado, shredded daikon and carrot, pickled ginger and edamame. It sits on a bed of brown rice and quinoa, or sub the tuna out for a chicken-karaage (fried chicken) version. Sweet strips of tamagoyaki (a rolled and layered omelette) add texture, and sesame and roasted seaweed provide some crunch.
A take on chai blends cinnamon and cardamom with Japanese green tea and black sugar syrup. “It’s [nuttier], and it’s vegan as well,” Honour says.
Coffee comes from Industry Beans, and there’ll always be a rotating selection of Japanese beans on offer. Most recently, LiLo Coffee Roasters from Osaka made a guest appearance.
“The idea was to create a perfectly curated space where it’s not too crowded, not too cramped [and] not too awkward,” Honour says. “[I’m] trying to create that night-life energetic vibe that you get when you go out for dinner and [have] a few drinks … in a lunch scene without alcohol; so that was a real challenge.”
The interior of the former Thai restaurant is simple and fresh, with blonde timber, hints of greenery and concrete finishes. “Japan’s really renowned for … minimalism, [but] I still wanted to maintain homeliness,” Honour says. Background music is important to Honour, too. Each day he pulls a different playlist – Japanese funk, “throwback”, disco, house – from Hibiki’s extensive Spotify account to play over the air.
1161 Toorak Road, Camberwell
Mon to Sat 8am–3pm