17 Aug Horse Bazaar, Melbourne CBD
Horse Bazaar is an casual izakaya on Little Lonsdale St, and it’s just celebrated its 10th birthday. Only one door down from the Hardware Street junction, it offers cocktails, beers, ciders, wines, spirits and special Japanese imports. In terms of food, there’s Japanese tapas to go along with the drinks, though there’s mains to feast on too.
It doubles as a small event space, hosting things such as live music, hip hop open mic nights and storytelling. Every weeknight there’s a food special on. You might come in for Dumpling and Massage Night on Tuesdays, or 2 for 1 Spicy Wings on Thursdays.
There’s plenty of character to be found here, with quirky figurines lining the shelves and counters, and a long white wall at the back, used to project a variety of things like local artwork and music videos.
It’s a small team at work, with Taka Enomoto in the kitchen as head chef (helped by a second chef) and Fumi Tamura manning the bar and front of house.
We began our night with some drinks. I had the espresso martini, with Kahlua, espresso, vodka and frangelico added for a special nuttiness. Strong and satisfying. A2 had the refreshing Citrus Highball, which had lemonade, lime and Yuzu juice imported from Kochi prefecture, a region of Japan famous for its yuzu.
They’ve just started a gluten-free menu, which is currently being integrated into the main menu. Some gluten-free items are completely new offerings, whilst others are gluten-free versions of other menu favourites. We decided to order mostly half-serves of the tapas so we could try more dishes. I love sweet potato and couldn’t resist the allure of them in chip form. They were moist and were accompanied by tasty mayo and honey on the side.
The agedashi tofu was coated in something that was more like panko than the starch that’s typically used, giving it a crunchier exterior. The insides were still scrumptiously soft and I wouldn’t have minded a full serve of it.
We ordered a full serve of the miso eggplant. Some pieces had a bit too much sauce, so the saltiness was a bit overpowering, but when proportioned well, the flavours of the eggplant and onion miso sauce together were delicious.