Early last year, when Circa, The Prince was relaunched under the ownership of the Melbourne Pub Group and direction of chef Paul Wilson, one of the most intriguing additions to the sleek establishment was a custom-made, robata wood barbecue.
The barbecue was installed to provide the kitchen team with endless barbecuing possibilities and to make the most of local and seasonal ingredients with influences coming not only from Japan, but across the whole Pacific Rim.
So in celebration of the robata’s unique qualities – and the addition of the venue’s new bar area – Circa is set to launch a month-long pop-up, where Wilson and head chef Jake Nicolson will be whipping up various yakitori dishes that, while not weighed down by tradition, are still respectful of the classic cooking style.
“Here, we’re doing things in a modern sense,” says Wilson. “We’ve embraced a large range of different ingredients, which all work really well together.”
The menu includes offerings such as mountain peppered wallaby loin, served with quandong caramel; husk roasted snow baby corn with smoked white and black garlic aioli; Flinders Island lamb fillet with Sichuan eggplant; and lastly, bonito glazed with bush lime and green tea.
Those looking for something beyond the grill can satisfy their hunger with a selection of bao, which, as Wilson tells us “have been carefully designed to compliment the yakitori”. The bao feature inspired fillings such as tea smoked duck and quince with bush plum sauce; caramelised toothfish and native fingerlime with miso mustard; crispy Australian soft shell crab with kimchi relish; as well as sticky pork with mango and fragrant herbs.
If that doesn’t sound appealing enough, a daily happy hour will also be running from 6pm to 9pm across the month, during which you can enjoy a flowing supply of Kirin beer, matching cocktails and sake.
Circa’s yakitori pop-up bar is open to the public for the duration of April. All yakitori and bao dishes will be available for $5 dollars each.