Published on 1 July 2021
A lunch counter standing between shuttered shops and faded 20-cent rides might not be the first place you’d look for some of the most-talked about sushi in Melbourne, but the incongruity of its location is just one of the charms of Tochi Deli. Opened this year by chef Shingo Tochimoto and his partner Rena, this no-frills, all-thrills hidden gem inside Brunswick Market is (or was) Sydney Road’s best-kept secret. After recognising a gap in the market for home-style Japanese dishes and simple, high-quality sushi (kinmedai nigiri! pristine hand-rolls!) in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, the Tochimoto’s have quickly found a devoted following in Brunswick. Here’s a bit more about the people behind the nori.
I’ve been cooking for...
I’ve been working as a chef for 18 years, eight of those here in Melbourne. Before that I was in Tokyo, working in the kitchen of my grandfather's sushi restaurant; I’m a third-generation chef. Rena has been working in the kitchens of this vibrant city for seven years.
Our brief for our new gig is:
We aim to deliver delicious, home-style Japanese food to the people of Brunswick in a casual and welcoming setting.
Which means I’ll be cooking things like:
Super-fresh, locally sourced seafood, which is used in our rotating variety of nigiri sushi. You can expect to see high-quality, wild-caught bluefin tuna sourced from our amazing suppliers. We break the fish down and serve every part, from the akami, the protein-rich, lean part of the tuna, which we cure in a soy marinade, all the way up to voluptuous, indulgent o-toro tuna belly.
This is just one example of our seasonal offerings, with fish such as locally sourced snapper, garfish, scallops, and kingfish also making an appearance on our menu. We aim to highlight the flavour of our seafood in subtle but delicious ways. Marinating our scallops with yuzu peel, for example, or curing our white fish in kelp.
We’re also proud of our rice bowls. Our saikyo miso salmon-don consists of miso-marinated salmon, served with rice and a variety of vegetables lovingly cut in a Japanese style. We also offer wholesome dishes that can be seen in homes all across Japan, such as oyako don – a dish of chicken and onions simmered in a dashi and sweet-soy broth mixed with egg. It's one of the staple Japanese soul foods.
We aren’t leaving vegans out of the mix – our sushi range has various vegan options, in addition to our onigiri and agedashi tofu rice bowl.
And if there’s one thing you can’t leave without trying:
Try a mix of whatever nigiri sushi is on offer that day. Everything is fresh and constantly changing according to what’s in season.
Tochi Deli, 655-661 Sydney Rd, Brunswick. Tues-Sat 11.30am-5pm. Want more? Follow Shingo’s adventures on Instagram at @tochideli.
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