Izakaya Hachibeh is new contender for my favourite quick-and-easy CBD lunch spots.

The relaxed and fuss-free Japanese restaurant spans over two levels on Bourke Street, with a rather nondescript frontage and the standard red-lantern izakaya decor. I would never have gone in if my friend J hadn’t suggested we meet there for lunch. She wanted to introduce me to an unusual menu item – the ‘Hachibeh Ladies Lunch Set’ which is strictly for ‘lady only!!’.

Is this something that’s common in Japan? Perhaps to cater for the bird-like frames of the petite female population?

I was very intrigued to see whether my mini don (or mini chirashi sushi for an extra $3)  plus mini udon/soba would satisfy my larger-than-average lady’s appetite. When it came out on the laquer tray, I was very impressed with the size of both the dishes. In fact, I’d argue that neither of them were particularly mini. So who knows why it’s for ‘lady only!!’.

The udon was bouncy and silken, just the way I like it, and the soup served with it was a lovely clear broth that I actually finished (and I don’t normally finish soup noodle broths). My gyudon was a good hit of carbs and protein – the beef was a little dry and the taste wasn’t amazing but it was certainly hearty and filling and I polished off the whole bowl.

If you are a lady, I highly recommend this option for lunch – it’s a bargain for $9.50. If you’re not a lady, then the next best value lunch item appears to be the Hachibeh Original lunch box, a large bento box where you get to choose 3 dishes for $12.  J sampled fresh mounds of sushi, prawn salad and freshly fried agedashi tofu, with unlimited miso soup.

As J said ‘It’s not like the food is revolutionary but it’s a very good city lunch deal.” Methinks the lady is right.

Izakaya Hachibeh on Urbanspoon