The strip between Johnston and Gertrude Streets on Smith Street is takeaway heaven. Slowly RM and I are taste-testing our way down the street as our workloads increase and cooking-energy levels decrease.
Peko Peko is billed as a Japanese cafe and it seems to be a popular local haunt. The small, relaxed place is decorated with a few Japanese touches (kimono fabrics, little rock garden in the corner) and it’s staffed by Japanese kitchenhands and quirky art-student waitresses.
The menu is split into small, medium and large dishes, which range from traditional Japanese to fusion flavours. We started off with some agedashi tofu ($10) and soy and ginger marinated soft-shelled crab served with chilli mayonnaise ($10). The texture of the tofu was not the perfect silkiness that you get at Longrain, but still very good dunked in the flavoursome soy-based broth spiked with ginger. The soft-shelled crab was a hit, a contrast in textures with a crunchy outer coating revealing succulent crab meat. With rice we tried the pirikara spicy prawns on a bed of spinach which was relatively unremarkable ($18), chicken gyoza somewhat lacking in flavour and juiciness ($8) and an okonomiyaki ($10) unlike anything I ate in Japan – a bubble-and-squeak-like mash of leftover vegetables cut into triangles, with not a bonito flake in sight.
As you can see, our meal consisted of some hits and misses, but it never veered towards terrible. Peko Peko is not the best Japanese food I’ve had, nor is it the worst. Would I come back again? Yes – and so it gets a HOT.
- Peko Peko, 199 Smith St, Fitzroy+61 3 9415 9609