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Master Den Poppu Uppu Japanese Hot Pots

Master Den, the keeper of secrets at Melbourne’s Japanese dining and drinking destinations, Izakaya Den and Hihou, has revealed the hot secret he has been keeping a tight lid on. The World Loves Melbourne was invited to enjoy a fabulous Japanese hot pot experience in the intimate Master Den.

Seriously, if you're looking for a winter warmer experience with a touch of class as well as comfort food, visit Master Den's Poppu Uppu.

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Master Den’s Poppu Uppu is open for a limited time in the site formerly home to Kappo, offering a fun, new Japanese hot-pot experience to keep Melburnians warm through winter. Participatory, playful and delicious.

We are Denton fans having frequented his restaurants and recall connecting with Simon around the bar/counter at Kappo one night for one of the best Japanese experiences I've ever had.

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The Poppu Uppu, a take on the Japanese translation for pop-up, is inspired by the special ‘nabemono’ dining experiences of Japan, where a pot is filled with broth and allowed to simmer, before vegetables and protein are gradually added to cook.

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Hot towel was a winner on arrival after negotiating hectic Hoddle St traffic.

There are dozens of varieties of hot pots, each with a distinguished flavour and style, and Master Den has created his own special versions of shabu shabu, a Hokkaido-style seafood nabe, and an elegant Japanese mushroom hot pot, that guests make themselves at the table guided by the friendly staff (we can vouch for the friendly staff).

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A welcome Japanese craft beer.

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Must order coffee-cured salmon sashimi. Thinking this is wonderfully Melbourne for sashimi to be cured with coffee. Delicious.

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The advent of Hihou's fried chicken on the menu was also a must order.

First things first. Snacks include sansho pepper edamame, coffee-cured salmon sashimi (a must order), tofu and shitake mushroom rice puff tempura, and a cameo appearance of Hihou’s fried chicken (another must order with squeeze of lemon).The Shabu Shabu features a konbu flavoured broth, with a plate of wagyu rump, topside and sirloin 6+, with the option to add speciality cuts like rump cap, scotch fillet and Japanese favourite, Cube roll.

Sake was sensational.

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The hot pot we chose was the stunning Hokkaido style Seafood Nabe which features a light miso flavoured broth, and is filled with Tasmanian Salmon fillet, local mussels and Mackerel, or add local flathead fillets, New Zealand pippies, Coffin Bay Oysters, Crystal Bay prawns and Harvey Bay scallops. We were impressed with the array of high quality seafood. We enjoyed the standard seafood hot pot with a couple of extras such as Snapper.

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How good does the array of seafood look assembled before we placed it in the hot pot!

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The Special Mushroom Hot Pot comes with a konbu, sake and soy flavoured broth, silken tofu, and a selection of Japanese mushrooms including shiitake, enoki, shimeji, oyster, and king brown.

All three hot pot varieties are served with an assortment of vegetables and accompaniments like wombok potato, spring onion, house-made special sauce (a must try!) and ponzu sauce, goma (sesame sauce), Momiji oroshi (Japanese daikon & chilli), and yuzu koshu (Japanese seasoning made from chili peppers, yuzu peel and salt).

The hot pots are finished with Udon noodles, handmade by Udon specialist and Izakaya Den and Nama Nama’s original Head Chef, Yosuke Furukawa. We highly recommend the Udon noodles in the hot pot!

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So good! I made sure I got a couple of scoops of broth every time I filled my bowl with seafood and vegetables. A highlight in itself.

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Denton Shed Chardonnay was perfect match for the seafood hot pot. Refreshing and a creamy element impressed.

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Tasmanian Salmon was a highlight. Just let it cook in the broth for 2-3 minutes. (The quick cooking time is a feature).

Simon Denton, co-owner of Izakaya Den, Hihou and Master Den’s Poppu Uppu, has always had a strong affinity with Japanese culture and wanted to introduce the Japanese way of hot pot to more Melbournians.

“What better winter experience than sharing a hot pot with someone you love, a group of your friends or family, on a cold Melbourne night”, says Denton. “It’s comfort food at its best – fun, unpretentious, and full of flavour and ritual”.

The drinks list has been designed to give guests many reasons to ‘Kampai!’. There are cocktails, served from Master Den’s bar upstairs, Hihou, such as the ‘KITANO Beat’, a Negroni-style winter cocktail named after his favourite Japanese Actor Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano, made with Suntory Kaku whisky, Campari, Saika Kokutou Umeshu (Japanese plum wine), Patron Coffee and orange.

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Desserts highly impressed including Dassai Sake (popular in Japan) Creme Brulee (must order), Matcha, Yuzu, white chocolate marshmallow, and the Fuji Apple and Ginger ice cream.

Refreshing after the hot pot and a great way to end the meal.

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Yuzu dessert wine was amazing with a citrus hit.

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Local and Japanese craft beers and sake that Master Den exclusively imports from Japan for his venues have been carefully selected to complement the different hot pots. A full-flavoured, but easy-to-drink Hitachino Lager goes perfectly with the Shabu Shabu, while a fruity Saison or the crisp and citrusy Wa Wa Wa Junmai sake from Nagano is best served with the Hokkaido Seafood Nabe.

Award-winning Raffaele Mastrovincenzo, the original sommelier at Kappo, has put together a small, fun & delicious list of fresh ‘now’ wines and sake to suit each of the Japanese hot pots.

Guests can expect new releases, limited editions and quirky matches. The space has been given a casual yet quirky makeover with some signature touches from Master Den himself.

Master Den’s Poppu Uppu encourages bookings, but walk-ins are also welcome. We're not sure how long the pop up will continue for but highly recommend a visit or two.

Master Den’s Poppu Uppu 1 Flinders Lane, Melbourne (03) 9639 9500 Monday-Saturday, 5pm-10pm.