199 Smith St
I went to Peko Peko for dinner the other day. No, not this Peko Peko, this Peko Peko. If you ask someone from Japan, ‘peko peko’ is the sound your stomach makes if you’re hungry. Given that, it’s no surprise that both restaurants have a Japanese influence to some degree, despite being completely unrelated.
But whereas Peko Peko in South Melbourne is mostly Taiwanese with a bit of Japan thrown in for fun, this Peko Peko in Collingwood is full-blown Japanese. The interior was endearingly oriental, including the unique little upstairs section that opens out to the main restaurant, but it just can’t shake the hint of grunge so characteristic of the Melbourne inner-north. It was a good bit of fun, watching the Japanese chefs rub shoulders with backpacking waitresses.
Heaps of people I know complain about tofu because it’s bland without any seasoning, which I think is entirely unfair. I mean really, you can say that same about rice or pasta – it’s MEANT to be had with seasoning. Anyway, aside from being a fan of tofu with century egg, Hiyayakko ($6) is another favourite way of mine to have tofu. The flavour palette of this cold dish was spot on, the soy sauce and bonito flakes a lovely combination of umami, whilst the surprise addition of grated pickled ginger added a zesty heat. Unfortunately it was let down by the tofu, which instead of being fresh and silky, has started down the road to being clumpy and spongy.
|Makizushi ($10, 8pcs)|
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Makizushi ($10, 8pcs) was a generous serve of salmon and tuna hand rolls. Though nothing special, it was nice to be given a chance to down a large serve of sushi, with plenty of pickled ginger between bites to clear the palette.
The Currydon ($16) was listed under the ‘big food’ section, but I wasn’t prepared for just how substantial a bowl filled to the brim with curry and rice was.
When mixed through, the rice and sauce was rich and sticky, and the large pieces of chicken extremely tender. There was the addition of several unorthodox, but welcome vegetables such as capsicum and spinach. What I discovered very soon however, was that this was an extremely oily curry – within minutes, a small pool of oil had collected in the spoon that I had left in the rice. That certainly explained why this was even more filling than a standard curry.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but Peko Peko felt different to all of the other Japanese restaurants I’ve been too. Either way, regardless of what that difference might be, a good solid meal can be found here; it may be a little more expensive than what you’re used to, but the portions are certainly generous, and the flavours are pretty close to the real thing.
Oh, and look at this awesome piece of graffiti art I found down the road!
Rating: 13/20 – grumble grumble.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.