Tucked away to Tyler Street Garage, a small sign points to one of the best kept secrets, Fukuko. As a first, or even second or third time comer, there’s plenty to look at. It’s not your typical after work bar with pulsating music pierced with roars of laughter – there’s an air of certain sophistication and innovativeness.
Framed by dark wooden beams with polished concrete floors and stools covered by rabbit fur flaps, there’s a certain edgy or even quirky vibe. You’ll notice the big jars which look a bit like movie props from a sci-fi movie with the fluorescent colours.
And that is the shōchū infusing right in front of yours eyes. Say what?
Certainly not a mispelled “sake” or “soju”. Shōchū originated in the southern regions of Japan and is a distilled spirit with an alcohol content of typically 25%, depending on distillation process. Unlike sake which is brewed, the distillation process means that the more shōchū is distilled, the purer it is. For a single distillation, the shōchū is made with one raw material which gives it the raw and distinct aromas. Multiple distillations where the shōchū goes through several distillations mean that it is smoother, and ideal for mixing cocktails.
No matter what the ingredients, shōchū is always has a clear and light flavor. And this little known drink is what is embraced by Fukuko, which boasts a cocktail menu designed by mixologist Paul Franich.
You’ll find the now-famous Earl Grey martini – concocted with early grey and juniper berry shōchū – freshened with sugar and lemon juice. Exquisite.
Then there’s the Kappa, a refreshing combination of cucumber and mint. Fukuko takes its own twists on the classics and when you run your eyes down the menu, you can see the cheeky personality that brought us the drinks.
You’ll want to try their East-meets-West food with the drinks though. For a nibble, there are the nori-chips. Seaweed is no longer reserved just for sushi! These are deceptively healthy, you’ll find yourself reaching for more until your fingers hit the bottom.
On the website, Fukuko humbly calls itself a shōchū and snack bar, but you will find yourself more full than you expected with these pork buns. Stuffed full of pork belly, cucumber and spring onion, you’ll be smacking the sweet hoisin sauce with a satisfied sweep of your tongue against your lips.
And yet, everything is so elegant, styled into bite-sized morsels of deliciousness. The Fukuko chicken comes with a knife and cutting board so you can dig into the drumsticks with your company – without going Flinstones and seizing the food.
C’s favourite – Seared tuna tataki – cucumber, yuzu vinegar, wasabi tobiko
Everything I had was light and delightful, including the drinks. Having been there for after-work drinks and mid afternoon bites, there’s one thing that caught my eye on the menu. Their chocolate peanut butter milkshake and “Japa Dogs” – American hotdogs stuffed with options of teriyaki chicken, crumbed pork belly or braised beef.
To end on one last thing that will make your eyes widen and if you were there in person, a must Instagram moment. Yes, as the finger points – that is bacon lodged firmly in the ice cream sundae. Non-existent on the menu, this was a sampler brought out to make us squeal.
We’ll be back to sample those Japa-Dogs, and to tick off the cocktails. This is the new hangout spot for those in Britomart – perhaps more grown-up and sophisticated while brandishing the Early Grey martini. Come check it out if you haven’t already!
Ph: (09) 300 5275
Union Fish Company Building
48 Tyler Street