It ticks the good boxes: perky Asian street food, lush local elements and my personal fave, marshmallow pink hues. It’s cute and soothing and scrumptious in sundry ways. Pachinko opened in January and Launceston has welcomed this peppy newcomer with open arms. I sat down at the communal window table one Saturday to pork crackle and the best bibimbap I’ve ever had. Crunchy, sweet, salty, layered; a little bowl of fresh wonders. Then dessert of coconut rice and silvanberries, all joined by a relieving glass of house iced tea. One half of Pachinko, Ally McCoy, says the aim of the game is to exit content yet already contemplating the next round. And that I did. Here’s some more from Ally, whose husband Jonny is the guy in the kitchen, plating up the perks…
Pachinko refers to a Japanese arcade game - why this title for your new establishment?
When we were brainstorming restaurant names we came upon a vintage matchbox from a Pachinko parlour that we had collected during a holiday in Japan. The name really resonated with us as it had an air of fun and lightheartedness that we hope sets the tone for our decor, style of service and accessibility of the food we serve. We also liked that the word Pachinko is a modern, slightly westernised Japanese word, it is onomatopoeic being the sound that the Pachinko machines make. Equally our food is a modern, slightly westernised version of Japanese cuisine with influences from other East Asian countries such as Korea and China.
In a nutshell, what's Pachinko tucker all about?
Fresh, seasonal produce prepared in a way that is delicious, nourishing and affordable. Our dishes will leave you feeling satisfied but not completely stuffed, you'll leave full but wanting to return for more.
Showing off local and the seasons seems to be your approach - true?
Very true. Tasmania has such incredible seasonal produce and we wanted to really showcase that. It is one of the things that really drew us to Japanese cuisine in the first place as they too have four very distinct seasons and a very strong focus on freshness and use of seasonally available produce. We both love the challenges and excitement that the changes of seasons brings and think that Tasmania's distinct seasonality really gives it a point of difference from anywhere else in Australia, indeed the world.
Will the menu rotate?
Absolutely. Chef Jonny's mind is overflowing with ideas and we are currently having to hold him back from unleashing all his surprises at once. Not only will there be changes with seasonal availability of produce but we will also have daily specials and weekly menu refinements. There are a couple of dishes, such as our ramen, that we hope to make mainstays but everything else around that will come and go in response to our ever changing environment.
Your hottest dish and favourite ingredient?
RAMEN!!! So hot right now and pegged to just keep getting hotter. We have both a meat based broth seasoned with soy (shoyu) and a kombu based vegetarian option that is seasoned with miso. Our shoyu ramen gains a deep, complexity of flavour from very slow and steadily cooked local, free-range pork whereas our miso ramen is a slightly softer, more delicate broth flavoured by seaweed. Currently my favourite ingredients to snack on are some of the incredible fresh produce from Yorktown Organics and Thirlstane Gardens that we use across a broad range of our dishes. The organic mizuna in our shoyu ramen is otherworldly in its natural saltiness while the young radishes in our miso ramen are so sweet with just a touch of pepper.
About you both: are you both Launceston natives, why open a restaurant here, how old is darling Matilda now and what are the names of those puppy dogs?
Yup, we are both Launceston born, however we spent a good decade or more living interstate and overseas before returning home to put roots down in 2013. In the five years since we've been home we have fallen in love all over again with this town and we couldn't think of anywhere else we would rather be right now. The lifestyle here is fantastic and we have made some amazing new friends as well as reconnecting with old so opening a restaurant here seemed a natural progression. Our daughter Matilda is just shy of two years old and we have two rambunctious kelpie x border collies called Chippy and Miles. Four backyard chickens by the names of Beyonce, Khalissi, Venus and Serena complete our tribe.
What's to come - can we expect booze down the track?
Watch this space! Alongside our ever-evolving menu, we are now offering some sweet tipples to accompany and enhance your meal. Small batch, Tasmanian beers and wine; fresh and funky natural ferments, spirits and liquors. Keep an eye on social media for our weekly specials too, we're always trialling new products and refining the old so expect the unexpected, in a good way, much like a game of Pachinko...
These pretty pics are by Jonny McCoy. Follow Pachinko on Instagram for more, plus daily dish ups, specials and new booze.