Residing on the Windsor end of Chapel St, ‘Tokyo Tina’ sits as an unassuming replica of Tokyo’s intricate beauty, bound contrastingly with its darker underground culture. As the elder sister of the much acclaimed Hanoi Hannah and Saigon Sally, a high standard had been set which was met with grace and ease. This trio is the lovechild of Simon Blacher, Paul Nguyen and Nic Coulter and Charlie Rothery. Upon Searching for inspiration for their next new project, all fell in love with the metropolitan, cultural melting pot that is Japan. The team has managed to replicate this complex nation and create a dining experience that deserves nothing but the popularity it has gathered. We sat down with owner Charlie to gain more insight.
Mon – Tue: 5pm – late
Wed – Sun: 12pm – late
$ $ $
Where did the idea for Tokyo Tina come from?
All the partners, we’re all really interested in Japan and we’d been to Tokyo a few times so the whole concept of Tokyo Tina was born out of interest.
What do you love about Japan?
The five of us who opened Tokyo Tina went to Tokyo for about two weeks. The interesting part of Japan for us was just the number of different elements to that one city. There are little back alleys that are like dark and dingy, very cheap and kind of sinister almost. There’s obviously the really traditional clean approach which is the very serious side. So be it the food or the way you talk to people, it’s all done very specifically. Then there’s this other darker, weird culture. So this is the mix we have tried to bring over to Tokyo Tina.
How have you brought this to Tokyo Tina?
So you’ll notice that physically every space is a little bit different and there is a bright lighter section out the back, a dark zone at the bar and there’s a karaoke room which is really clean and neat.
So this filtered through into the fit out but also into the food as well. So you’ll get these really simple dishes that only have one or two different ingredient and then more complex fused dishes as well.
What was your vision for Tokyo Tina?
What I suppose our vision of what we thought it was going to be changed dramatically once we were in Tokyo. We originally had a vision of this sus very straight edge kind of Japanese restaurant in mind but when we came back, it was the complete opposite.
What’s something that sets Tokyo Tina apart from other Melbourne restaurants?
The karaoke room is pretty special, that was originally our dry store room, then we decided to move all the food out the back and built that little space. It’s awesome, Friday & Saturday nights in particular. Guys that sit in there at 8pm generally stay in there until 1pm!
What’s something people wouldn’t know about Tokyo Tina?
One of the walls in the restaurant has actually been completely hand drawn by a local artist with a posca pen! It’s a street scene from UNO station in Japan. It took him five days, it was awesome.
What your favourite meal on the menu?
My personal one, the salmon poke. It’s got heaps of flavour, its healthy; I can have it every single day. I pretty much do have it every day. Poke is a fairly straight forward dish. It’s so good. It’s just rice, fish and veggies. Really simple.