First things first, let’s save you some embarrassment. It’s pronounced ‘icky jimmy’, and it refers to a Japanese sustainable fishing practice, where the fish are line-caught and humanely killed. You wouldn’t expect anything less from Shannon Bennett, Melbourne’s unofficial king of ethical, sustainable eating.
Iki-jime is Bennett’s latest pet project in an ever-expanding portfolio (he also launched the successful Benny Burger earlier in the year). We’re not sure when he sleeps. Possibly February.
Fans of the old Bistro Vue will recognise the space inside Iki-jime. Bennett deliberately kept the bones of the original venture in-tact, including those chunky timber beams over the bar. In fact, the neon Iki-jime sign even has Bistro Vue on the reverse side. A little nod to the building’s heritage.
That’s where the similarities end. The new fit-out is nothing like the airy Euro-bistro. This thing is pure sex: matte black finishes, muted leather couches, dirty mood lighting and blacked out windows. A few pops of liquid neon here and there. It looks like a cross between uptown New York and a Shinjuku whisky den.
Turn right and you’ll find yourself in the restaurant, complete with open kitchen and (very intimate) chef’s table. Turn left and you’ve got the bar—our new favourite date venue—plus an al fresco courtyard just crying out for summer.
The menu is seafood all the way, hand caught and ethically dispatched by Tasmanian-based Mark Eather, who supplies seafood to the entire Vue Group.
Bennett and Executive chef Justin James have plucked the very best from the world’s oceans, serving up a fish feast you won’t get anywhere else in the CBD. Moonlight Flat oysters with lemon myrtle, Port Phillip mussels on toast, smoked trout and roe, served up with Crème Fraiche and fermented potato. It’s all beautifully prepped by the tattooed hands of head chef Sam Homan
Want our advice? Perch yourself up at the bar, order a cocktail and watch the pros chip ice from the enourmous tempered block. Few salt n’ pepper whitebaits and you’re in seafood heaven.
Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White