Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Izakaya Fujiyama, G-Doggz, Savour Tasmania, and Hihou.
Kenji Maenaka (pictured) has rolled out a battery of reasons to revisit your favourite rock 'n' roll izakaya. For one thing, he's taken the sushi-making into his own hands and has taken it up a notch. "I'm ageing the tuna myself like we do in Japan, blending my own soy sauce and pressure-cooking the Australian-grown koshihikari rice, just like Jiro in Tokyo," he says. "I'm not sure all this is necessary for sushi we're serving in an izakaya, but I just want to make the food as tasty as it can be." In addition to the impressive sushi and sashimi options, making the most of fish fattened up for winter, there's more traditionally cockle-warming stuff on offer. The Hokkaido-style six-hour milk-fed lamb and sweet soy-braised oxtail with gobo are right up there, but the real contest is between the tuna belly sanzoku, bubbling away on a hot rock with chilli and garlic, and the sensational hay-smoked duck with pickled peaches. But why make it a competition? Order both and everyone wins. Izakaya Fujiyama, shop G09, 38-52 Waterloo St, Surry Hills, NSW, (02) 9698 2797 PAT NOURSE
Meet G-Doggz, an industrially chic, New York-style hotdog hole-in-the-wall joint and bar from Brad and Angelica Jolly of Alchemy Restaurant & Bar. A tight, reasonably priced drinks list - Anchor Steam Ale for $8, jugs of James Squire One Fifty Lashes for $17 - is matched by a short but globetrotting, fusion-leaning hotdog carte fielding decent sausages made by old-style butcher Petersen's Quality Meats and lightweight un-grilled Le Sebastien buns. Try a lip-smacking Chow Chow, a juicy pork number topped with kimchi and a zigzag of wasabi mayo; or the Devil Dogg, a jalapeño, pork and cheese sausage topped with chilli sauce and diced, ripe fresh tomatoes. Most dogs can be unleashed for about $10 and there's also a Sloppy Dog, for those who prefer to hang loose. G-Doggz, 356 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3854 0051 FIONA DONNELLY
Red Wine Weekend at Savour Tasmania
The hot dining tickets for this year's Savour Tasmania, including dinners jointly cooked by In de Wulf's Kobe Desramaults and Luke Burgess from Garagistes, are sold out, alas, but happily tickets are still available for the Red Wine Weekend. As well as a chance to try some of Tasmania's award-winning red wines and talk to their makers, there's a host of masterclasses. They include one by Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine's own Nick Stock on Tasmanian pinot noir and another by ourselves on food and wine matching, including some matches that we hope will be provoking. Princes Wharf 1, Castray Esplanade, Hobart, Tas SUE DYSON & ROGER MCSHANE
Hihou, the gorgeous Japanese cocktail bar overlooking the Treasury Gardens, is attracting a whole new gaggle of admirers now that it opens for lunch. Most are there for the set menu: $35 buys you a course of chilled morsels (perhaps some sashimi and a tiny snowpea and raw scallop salad topped with black sesame seeds), a choice of main course (house-made udon noodles in a clear kansai broth with seaweed and diamond clams, for instance) and tea or coffee. There's an à la carte option too, some good sweet stuff and a whole load of great sake, should the mood strike. Hihou, Level 1, 1 Flinders La, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9639 9500 MICHAEL HARDEN
Got a hot tip for our Hot Plates team? Tweet us at @gourmettweets, or tag your Instagram photos with #GThotplates.