You'll find popcorn chicken and umeshu spritzes at this sleek Lygon Street spot.
Lygon Street and its surrounds might once have been wall-to-wall, old-school Italian joints — and famously so. But a new wave of residents are slowly but surely shaking up the demographic. Tortilla and tequila bar Taquito, famed ramen joint Hakata Gensuke and even all-vegan pub the Green Man's Arms have settled happily into the neighbourhood. And, next up, it's time for modern east Asian eats, courtesy of newcomer Lagoon Dining.
This one's the debut joint venture from a trio of hospitality young guns and Ezard alumni – Chris Lerch, Ned Trumble and Keat Lee – along with business partner Susan Wyles. The 80-seat restaurant has made its home right in the heart of this iconic strip, taking over the space that once housed the Lygon Food Store.
The menu is grounded in traditional Chinese sensibilities, though you'll also spy plenty of other Asian influences, as well a few clever riffs on Chinese food concepts plucked from further abroad.
Pull up a seat at the bar and snack your way through options like popcorn chicken teamed with white pepper togarashi and curry leaf, pork and cabbage dumplings, and xinjiang-spiced lamb ribs. Raw dishes might include the likes of a 'hot and numbing' beef tartare, while a wok selection stars combinations like mapo tofu knots with mustard greens and shiitake.
Larger offerings come in the form of charcoal-roasted char siu pork matched with tare sauce and spring onion relish, and steamed market fish paired with Hunan-style salted chilli. A banquet menu clocks in at $70 per person.
Meanwhile, sommelier Ben Skipper has headed up the drinks lineup, designing a broad-ranging rotation of craft beers – from local Cavalier pilsner to NZ's Garage Project White Mischief — as well as spirits and aperitifs. The wine list is a considered trip across the globe and the cocktail offering's set to change up regularly. At time of writing, the house sour is a blend of Plantation rum, pineapple and sugar cane, while the spritz teams umeshu, yuzu soda and sparkling wine.