The Alto Team is pleased to share the opening of the Onigiri Kitchen and Sake Bar, Melbourne’s new intimate Japanese-inspired eatery.
The menu features Onigiri, Japanese rice balls, accompanied by traditional bar snacks, and some in-house specialties. The team at Ferndale Zen Group has been busy selecting and importing sake, beers, and Japanese wines from small-batch producers around Japan.
The shopfront illuminates Little Collins Street with its warm lantern lighting, polished timber finishing, and rendered-style walls—a sanctuary-like space designed by Mitchell & Eades.
Alto Cibum has worked with the Ferndale Zen group for a number of years, refining the dining concept and developing a host of new concepts that we will roll out over the next few years.
Wellness and sustainability a key theme of all concepts and the team sources ingredients from their 35-acre farm, Ferndale Organics, including organic produce, wild honey, free-range eggs, and Japanese ingredients—think daikon, shiso, wasabi, yuzu, and mustard.
It is the stories behind the menu that make this venue unique:
- Green Tea– The tea is sourced from a Co-Op of small farmers who grow small tea fields at the base of Mount Fuji. The Co-Op was founded to provide access to farmers directly and help the farmers keep family plantations in business. The unique microclimate of short days, high humidity, and variable temperatures creates a unique green tea with bespoke flavours.
- Beer – The Beer is made by a young couple in Tokyo who also operate a curry house under the train tracks. The beer is called “& Beer,” the chief brewer Junko has developed an extensive range of styles, including traditional IPA to more exotic flavours like yuzu ales and oyster stouts.
- Sake – All sake is from a small sake house in the Nîgata province, which is over 1 hour away from Tokyo on the bullet train. This sake brewery was one of the first sake breweries to be run by a woman and remains a family business to this day.
- Local Pottery – All the cups and plates are made in their own pottery studio, using unique Japanese clays, glazes, and tools, which are made at a pottery studio on the farm grounds in nearby Sassafras.
It has been a unique experience to help the Ferndale Zen team create and define the guiding principles for this project. If you are seeking support to create your next hospitality concept, reach out to the Alto Team.