Hinoak, Melbourne, Australia

Hinoak, Melbourne, Australia

Located in a dowdy, nondescript retail strip in deepest western Melbourne, the delicate battened façade of Hinoak, a Korean gogi-gui or barbecue restaurant, is delightfully at odds with its stodgy neighbours and the first indication of how in the right hands, even a relatively narrow space can be made to feel light and spacious.

Thanks for this lie with Biasol, the Melbourne-based studio responsible for the design of London’s Grind cafés, who took what could have been a cramped, dark space and by working with a restricted palette and replacing the street-facing wall with glass, have created a bright, welcoming restaurant, that puts the focus on the food. This is prepared, traditional gogi-gui style on built-in individual grills, transferring the drama of cooking from kitchen to table-top.

From the Chinese character for ‘fire’ cut into the battening, which continues inside along the gently sloping ceiling and the light grey concrete rendered walls and terrazzo bar panels, to the lime-washed timber flooring, eye-catching over-the-bar bottle rack, backlit wall niche and simple, red vinyl banquette style seating, Hinoak feels like the kind of elegant, sophisticated take on a shikdang or an izakaya that would look at home almost anywhere in northeast Asia.