The LONgTIME crew unveils moody Japanese-inspired sibling Hôntô in Fortitude Valley
Good things come to those who wait. It’s a proverb that can apply to a variety of situations, but it’s especially apt when it comes to Fortitude Valley’s newest restaurant Hôntô. The sleek dining destination from the team behind LONgTIME opened over the weekend after some frustrating delays, but it all seems to have been worth it. Hôntô’s stark and moody aesthetic paired with a considered menu of reimagined Japanese fare looks to be a genius combination, making the wait entrirely worthwhile.
It was December 2016 when we first heard word that the culinary minds behind LONgTIME were in the early stages of a new concept. Although a mid-2017 completion date was planned, delays on the build forced eager diners to wait longer than expected. As of Thursday August 16, the team’s vision has at last been realised – contemporary Japanese restaurant Hôntô is officially open. While different in vibe and cuisine to LONgTIME, Hôntô continues the proprietors’ penchant for the dramatic, the interesting and the clandestine – placing the restaurant on an out-of-the-way street in Fortitude Valley, in a space that has been built from scratch, instantly becoming one of Brisbane’s most aesthetically creative settings.
Much like LONgTIME, Hôntô’s entry is hidden in plain sight. Turn the corner behind The Wickham onto Alden Street and you’ll be able to discern an unembellished entry next to MATT BLATT’s rear loading bay. Crossing the threshold will reveal a dark and gloomy entrance hall, which gradually opens up to Hôntô’s main dining area. Once your eyes adjust, you’ll be greeted with a mesmerising display of minimalist design, with wall and ceiling surfaces covered in blackened and charred wood panelling illuminated by ornate chandeliers. The restaurant features two main seating areas, with a central raw bar offering casual stool seating and a vantage point over some culinary action. At the rear of the space, one can spy the brightly lit kitchen, where Hôntô’s bigger bites are prepared. Diners awaiting a table are guided to Hôntô’s shadowy bar and lounge area ÔÔ, which is easily missed upon entry. Lamps cast sparse illumination along the bar, while plush couches offer shrouded spots to cosy up with a cocktail while you wait to be seated.
The food and drink
Where LONgTIME focuses on a purposely chaotic array of Southeast Asian eats, Hôntô hones in on contemporary Japanese fare, where delicate pairings of ingredients offer up salivation-worthy combinations. The menu is divided into raw dishes, small bites, medium-sized plates, bigs, sides and sweets. A solid starting point is the raw bar’s array of oysters, tuna ceviche and rotating sashimi selection, followed by inspired snacks such as tuna and avocado drumsticks, prawn doughnuts with red shiso and kimchi mayo and lobster katsu sandos. Pork and vegetable dumplings, watermelon salad and chicken isobe-age offer more substantial eats, while the main event delivers sizeable share-worthy plates including whole snapper karaage, wagyu beef with mustard greens, shichimi-spiced lamb shoulder, and pork belly with kome vinegar. If you partook in a pre-dinner drink at ÔÔ, you’ll have already peeped Hôntô’s impressive drinks list, which features sustainable wine from small Australian producers, rare Japanese whiskies and sake, creative cocktails, craft beers and much more.
Hôntô is now open to the public. For booking details and operating hours, seek out Hôntô in the Stumble Guide.
Images: Table Brisbane / Nat Hoo & Sam Thies
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