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Flanked by bars and por kilo buffet restaurants just off Centro's historic Praça XV, the easily missed entrance to Hachiko's inviting first-floor space has done nothing to hamper its popularity. Weekday lunchtimes are quickly packed out and tables are at a premium from midday until mid-afternoon with the business brigade desperate to stake their claim on the best sushi downtown has to offer. More than just a Japanese restaurant, though, in true carioca style the menu has been Brazilianised to include as broad a range of pan-Asian (and beyond) influences as possible, cheerfully substituting authenticity for eclecticism.
Recently extended from midweek to weekend, even on Saturdays the longstanding favourite lunch sitting (served until 4pm) means lightening quick delivery of a seemingly endless array of plates flying out of the kitchen to the awaiting tables. Time-consuming norms such as ordering are deemed largely unnecessary, with the first plates of sushi arriving well before the drinks, which are worth chasing before the delayed hit of the spiced salmon sashimi with crispy rice kicks in. Re-ordering favourites is of course perfectly acceptable, and a quick return to the the namorado fish ceviche is highly encouraged.
More unlikely additions follow in the form of deep-fried squid and shrimp on skewers with a garlicky aubergine and rocket pesto, fresh enough albeit lacking the sartorial elegance of the sublime, part-appetiser, part-dessert wasabi cream with salmon tartare. Shrimp and lemon risotto is another unlikely dish to hail from an Asian kitchen, but as the plates stack up around the table there is joy to be found in the endless picking and perusing while keeping your taste buds on their toes.
By night, the mood changes with the addition of candle light and the opening of the shutters looking out onto the crumbly surrounding architecture. The idea remains more or less the same after dark, but even more dishes are served up in the style of a broad tasting menu, thankfully with the pace of the daytime delivery slowed down to a more romantically viable canter. Small plates of dim sum, samosas and curried duck make for an enjoyably varied experience, too, with the sushi bar’s classics always at your mercy for a clean hit more in keeping with what probably drew you here in the first place - the quality and variety of the raw fish.
8 Oct 2012.