Ototo means “little brother” in Japanese, which makes it an apt name for the new izakaya-style basement bar at Akaiito, a classy Japanese restaurant with an omakase-style offering on Flinders Lane. It was previously an extension of the upstairs space, known as Akaiito Underground, but has reopened with a revamped menu of Asian-inspired snacks and cocktails.
“We wanted to offer a more relaxed and casual atmosphere with a new name and a new food concept,” says the team’s executive chef, Winston Zhang.
Sharing platters are king here, with a menu that is mostly Japanese but meanders through multiple cuisines, including Chinese, Korean, Malaysian and more. Follow the bright red string installation in the upstairs restaurant to the gloomy basement bar, where you can expect appetizers like Sydney rock oysters served with ponzu and ikura (salmon roe), crispy mantou (Chinese buns), pork and prawns. . purees” with the optional addition of sea urchin, and Hervey Bay scallops with seaweed butter.
Larger sharing platters start at $18 and include deluxe sashimi platters, Korean-style steak tartare with cured egg yolk, lamb short ribs masala, and shrimp sambal. Or get the full experience by choosing the chef’s selection at $68 per head.
As for drinks, “the focus will be on savory and umami-style cocktails,” says consultant George Leung. “A lot of places focus on sweet drinks, but they don’t always complement the food.” That is not the case here; try the signature Japanese-inspired Nori Martini or a sake-based spritz with butterfat-washed gin that is brewed in-house.
The bar also focuses on sustainability, using Ecospirits, a low-carbon, low-waste spirits distribution service. Additionally, the pulp of the fruit is made into a puree, while the skins and hearts are ground to create flavored syrups. All leftover ingredients are recycled back into the kitchen and implemented in the kitchen where possible.
The space’s elegant furnishings haven’t changed drastically with the rebranding, and it still features exposed bluestone walls, a blackstone-topped bar, and seating for up to 60 people. But the new high tables and extra seats at the bar make it feel more relaxed. The historic elements of the heritage-listed building can also be seen through the original ceiling beams, restored wooden columns, and historic iron railings.
Subway 349-351 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
(03) 9620 1343