This modern eatery in one wing of a hotel foyer in Barton is the next venue for Josiah Li and his Chairman Group team. Li has brought in a robata grill and a former Nobu chef, Shunsuke Ota, who knows how to wield it. It's a light-filled, cool space where pale wood hangers with geometric cutouts divide the room and the ceiling is decorated with ropes.
The food is equally interesting and modern - Nagoya style quail karaage with sweet sancho soy are crispy fried quail legs. The most photogenic dish is a medley of diced roast vegetables stuffed into a pot made out of a hollowed out orange.
Martina's black cod is a rich dish of fish fillets in miso. There's a touch of that high end, super clean charry flavour from the robata all across the menu. Desserts have a purity to them with clean, tea-flavoured pudding and tofu dish with green tea ice cream.
Sake is where Lilotang also shines. The sake list is comprehensive and intriguing - a journey through an increasingly polished series of drinks, with unfiltered and fortified sakes and shochu into the bargain. It's more exciting than wine and a welcome expansion of our drinks scene.
Lilotang is polished yet relaxed, capturing so much of the recent trend in Canberra for upscale, casual food that can be seen in other eateries such as Ben Willis' Temporada and the Harrington brothers' Akiba. This is Japanese food with an updated feel in a cool dining room.
1 Burbury Close, Barton, 6273 1424, lilotang.com.au