Very cheap eats: The Espy's Ichi Ni rocks St Kilda

I instantly like it: Ichi Ni (03 9534 1212), the Izakaya, a Japanese style tavern/pub with food, which was opened last night next to The Espy by the owners of The Espy Vince Sofo and Paul Adamo. It rocks. Yes, there were some blips in service on the first night. But we weren’t even aware that our dishes were taking longer than expected. We were having a great time.

It’s a balmy late summer night. We are sitting on the large terrace enjoying the sunset. Dark clouds hang over Williamstown which is illuminated by shards of lightening. The Vomit of Tasmania sails by. I sup on my half pint glass of Sapporo and life feels good. Jak is enjoying the Tim Smith Adelaide Hill’s Viognier 2008 which I later quaff too. It’s floral, fairly high sugar and goes great with the the tapas style menu and Yakatori, cooked in an open kitchen which has an impressive extraction system. There’s a great selection of wine,beer and saki a mix of crowd pleasers and boutique drinks with some beers and sakis than only Japan geeks will recognise.

The food is the same. Usually I’m a real pedant on how food is described. But since discovering Murphry’s Law I’ve relaxed a bit. Everybody seems to understand tapas as a generic term for small plates of food rather than the Spanish origins. So the “Japanese tapas” menu simply tells the great unwashed what they can expect – small dishes to pick on. We had a small tapas plate of Edamame, burdock roots and, bugger I’ve forgotten what else. We had decent tempura, not aspiring to the pinnacle of Tempura Hajime, but good enough to have us mmmmmming.

All through this the staff are attentive while ironing out the wrinkles of the first night. The onshore breeze blows out the tea light candles that are placed on tables on dishes. The dishes are replaced by newly lit candles in glasses – again again and again.Each time we order something the waiting staff have to boot up their electronic note pads. One gives up and has a notebook as back-up.Another is concerned our food hasn’t arrived. We are having too good a time to care. Apparently there was a mix up in the ordering and the waiter who took our order apologies. I hope he didn’t commit sepuku as we didn’t see him for the rest of the night. Plus he complimented me on my wagyu, unagi (eel) and okra yakatori order – which was also apparently mixed up although we didn’t even notice until we were told.I loved the eel. Jak loved the wagyu. We both mmmmmed our way through the crunchy okra. We were only out for a snack so didn’t have pudding.We spent $105 although about $60 was on booze. But this is a sure fire candidate for Very Cheap Eats because you can eat for under $20 and get a reasonably priced beer, glass of wine or saki.If you are heading for St Kilda, head for Ichi Ni. Tweet-me-up as I may already be on a table across from you. Or if not I’m drop in for a swift one and a quick skewer.Want to review for Very Cheap Eats? Email me.

This is double posted on my own blog Tomato.