Hako is a refined yet relaxed Japanese restaurant located in the office precinct of Flinders Lane. In the narrow half-block between Elizabeth and Queen Streets there are a lot of lunch options and my stomach firmly supports a trip to Hako.

The interior design is Zen spare – nothing adorns the expanse of off-white walls and lighting is provided by naked bulbs suspended from the uncovered ceiling. Large groups get prime position in the elevated polished floorboard dining area – a semi-separate space looking right onto Flinders Lane.

Hako‘s lunch menu covers small plates, bento boxes, lunch sets, main courses served with rice or noodles and a small selection of sushi and sashimi. There’s no fusion or confusion – just simple, healthy, traditional Japanese fare.

For my lunch I wanted something substantial but not heavy, so decided on the soba chirashi sushi set ($23.50). Quick-as-a-flash a lacquered tray came bearing a large ceramic bowl of steaming buckwheat noodle soup and a delicate arrangement of sashimi and sweet ginger on vinegared rice.

It was a perfect combination for my appetite – the raw fish was sweet and fresh while the just-blanched noodles begged to be slurped in Japanese-style appreciation and certainly not a drop of the broth remained at the end.

The prices at Hako are a little higher than some of the quick-and-easy Japanese lunch spots around town so for me it’s more of a place for a ‘treat’ lunch than somewhere to visit every day. The dinner menu mainly focuses on small plates to share so it could still add up to be quite an expensive meal if you have a large appetite.

For other Japanese lunch options in the CBD in high-end surroundings, try Taxi,  Yu-uor Shoya.

Hako, 310 Flinders Ln, Melbourne +61 3 9621 1881

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