1 Burbury Close, Braddon | (02) 6273 1424
Menu | Directions | Zomato
Pronunciation: li|lo|tang (lee-l’oh-tang)
a quirky little Japanese restaurant at the bottom of Burberry Hotel in Barton – little known, but well worth the trip. A derivative of Kaiseki and Izakaya dining styles, Lilotang serves up an eclectic mix of Japanese flavours that showcases aspects of Japanese cuisine that are seldom explored.
Lil and I had the pleasure of attending their specially curated Dining Program back in May, as part of a showcase for the AFR’s Australia’s Top Restaurants of 2015. The event was a feast of flavours we never knew existed in the Japanese repertoire – Edamame fried in garlic, sesame oil, and sashimi salt; a Black Cod dish with a rich Umami aspect to it; and an amazing roast persimmon dessert that pretty much blew my tiny mind.
If you’re just reading this for the short and sharp of whether to go and what’s good – Lilotang is definitely worth the trip for those looking for legit Japanese cuisine, as well as for those looking to understand it better. Our top picks were the Umami Jime Snapper Sashimi and the Roast Persimmon dessert; while you’re at it, might we also recommend a Lilotang Sour from the bar 😉
– The Venue –
From the website, to the venue, to the drinks menu – Lilotang exudes a quirkiness you wouldn’t ordinarily associate with a Japanese restaurant capable of serving well executed, authentic Japanese cuisine. Don’t forget what your momma said though – never judge a book by its cover!
Step inside, and the interior’s pretty spacious, with a clean colour scheme combining with a few pieces of quirky artwork reiterating Lilotang’s weird but wonderful character. It was pretty empty at the start of the night [we got there pretty much at start of service] but even when it filled up later on, we weren’t cramped or drowned out by the noise of conversations taking place around us. It was a pretty relaxed and casual setting, and had a great night out in the end.
– The Drinks –
Lilotang have an exceptional range to sample in six categories of saké, so get amongst it! A boozy night out at Lilotang will get you well on your way to becoming “Bill Nye the saké guy”! And hey – chicks dig nerds, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
To get you started – here’s a quick and dirty on the differences between the sakés you’ll encounter:
Junmai, “pure rice saké,” tends to be more heavy and full-bodied than other types of premium saké, often with stronger, rice-influenced flavor and a bit more acidic.
Junmai Ginjo – a step up from Junmai saké, tends to be light and refined, often with distinctively fruity aromas.
Junmai Daiginjo is the posh older cousin of the other Junmai sakés, it’s a bit lighter and more refined, with delicate, complex, flavors and clean aromatics.
Nigori is the cloudy variant of saké; coarsely filtered, or with some rice and koji rice particles added to the bottle to give it a sweeter, stronger flavour.
Umeshu – for those with more of a sweet tooth, is made using the Japanese fruit, Ume. Lil’s a big fan of this one =]
Shochu is a bit of a weird one – it’s made from a variety of ingredients such as sweet potatoes, barley, buckwheat, rice sweet corn or brown sugar. As a result, it’s less sweet than saké, with a nuttier; earthier flavour.
Ah, Saké – “the hipster’s whiskey”, some say..! Not really – I made that up just then =|
Apart from their extensive range of saké, Lilotang also has a short-but-sweet list of five cocktails that you can enjoy with your meals. Our top pick – the Lilotang sour.
Caribbean spiced and dark rums, egg white, yuzu juice and demerara. Tangy. Pun intended.
That red thing on top? It took us a bit of guessing, not knowing the answer, and subsequent Googling to find out that it’s a Waxberry – doesn’t sound very appetising, but trust me – save it to the end of your drink for a nice burst of flavour from this sweet, but tangy berry. Mmmm!
For the purists out there – a Nippon Old Fashioned, made with Japanese single malt sugar, bitters and burnt orange. Not a bad drop – perhaps a bit short on the sugar with the one that I had, but still good.
Oh, and if you’re not good at drinking spirits – maybe not the drink for you hahah – speaking from experience, it’s quite strong, and takes an acquired taste to really appreciate a good Old Fashioned.
– The Food –
Edamame fried in garlic, sesame oil, and sashimi salt
Words can’t describe how strangely delicious this was for a simple entree – it probably took the chef a total of 3 minutes to prep and cook, but the flavours absolutely blew my mind! If it’s on the menu when you’re there – absolutely get it. If not – pester them to put it on, or you and the rest of The Can are missing out!
Umami Jime Snapper Sashimi with Chilli Tosazu
Lil really enjoyed the delicate and light flavours of this dish; it really says something about the quality of the produce they use if something involving such little processing or cooking can taste so good.
Char Grilled Cabbage with Anchovy Garlic Dressing & Semi Dried Tomato
“Hold on – one of the courses…was pretty much just burnt cabbage?” – is exactly what I thought when I saw it on the menu, with a raised, quizzical eyebrow. Literary interpretation aside, even though the smokiness of the cabbage was actually surprisingly satisfying, I was a bit confused by the presence of sundried tomatoes and the lack of something more substantial to warrant this being a solo dish.
Part 1: Chicken Thigh skewers with Homemade Yakitori Sauce
All was made right in the world next dish came out though – succulent; moist; tender chicken skewers, drizzled with a deliciously savoury-sweet Yakitori sauce. Yum!
Part 2: Chicken Meat Ball with Creamy Egg
The meatballs were quite soft, crumbling under the fork and going down a treat. And I don’t know if you have a weird [bordering on] egg fetish like I do, but oh man – this egg was poached to perfection, jiggling emphatically on the plate and bringing a smile to my dial as I pierced it with my fork to see it ooze that golden yolk onto the plate. Bliss.
Part 3: Ox Tongue with Sansho Shichimi salt and Daikon
The Ox Tongue was my favourite out of the three from the Robata medley – it was perfectly cooked for such a thin slice of meat; with a rich, meaty flavour that was balanced out nicely by the Daikon.
Char Grilled Wild King Prawn with Shiso Amazu and Wakame
I’m going to be honest – even having eaten it, I’m still not sure what part of this dish was Shiso Amazu or Wakame…hahah, but hey – still one for all the seafood lovers out there!
Black Cod Saikyo Miso Yaki
A bit of ying and yang on a plate, with the rich, savoury flavours of the Cod balanced out impeccably by the zest from the lime and pickled vegetables. The dish was pretty heavy on the palette overall, so I’d recommend having something light, like the snapper sashimi, before moving on to something else.
Roast Persimmon, Japanese Citrus Ice Cream with Honey Umeshu
Ladies and gentlemen the pièce de résistance. I’m not even bother trying to find the words that can sufficiently express how high this ranks on my foodgasm scale – it’s just not possible. While this exact dessert hasn’t made it onto the menu for winter, you can still grab a roasted Fuji Apple, served with Yuzu Ice Cream, Walnuts, Honey Umeshu. Sounds good, amirite?
– The Wrap-up –
While I haven’t given Lilotang a perfect scorecard, the real test is to ask the question – would I come back for seconds? In a word – yes.
The point of a tasting menu like the one Lil and I experienced, is to showcase the full gamut of what a restaurant has to offer, and I think our experience reflected where Lilotang was at, at the time. For a restaurant that was only 5 months old when Lil and I visited, it was doing exceptionally well; if what we saw that night was anything to go by, I’ve got high hopes for Lilotang’s future.
Today marks the 7th month anniversary of it’s grand opening on the 15th of January – why not celebrate with the good folks at Lilotang and head over for dinner tonight! And don’t you dare skip dessert 😉