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Tucked away in a quiet street of Seddon is Ajitoya, which adds to the growing list of Japanese dining available in the western suburbs. Whilst tossing up between the usual Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine on offer from Footscray, J and I decided to go in a different direction and opt for Japanese at Ajitoya.
The usual MSG fare, with fresh cooked veggies and spring onion to garnish.
Prawn gyoza - Japanese dumplings with prawn and vege filling.
The arrival of our entree got our stomachs rumbling and lucky for us, the gyoza tasted as great as they appeared. One side was soft and delicate, while the other side was crisp from being pan fried. The accompanying spring onions and vinegary sauce worked well with the prawn and cabbage filling.
Tempura set - crispy tempura prawn, white fish & vegies.
The tempura was standard. I thought the green tea salt was quite salty; even the faintest contact appeared to douse the crisp tempura batter with saltiness. The chicken salad looked harmless enough but actually packed a potent wasabi punch of flavour. Approach the salad with caution if you can’t normally handle wasabi.
Foxy moon udon noodles - fried sweet tofu, poached egg, wakame (type of seaweed), with thick udon noodles in a hot sweet soupy broth, with shichimi spice on the side.
J seemed quite happy with his udon noodles. No complaints were heard, so that’s always a good sign.
Seating is extremely limited at Ajitoya so there is a very good chance you will need to wait or order takeaway if you turn up without a booking. Being someone who decided to wait for a seat, I can say that the more-than-decent and authentic-tasting food made the wait worthwhile!
82 Charles St,
Seddon, Victoria, 3011.
(03) 9687 1027
Once upon a gym night, when faced with the option of either rushing off for a class that we would have been late for anyway or going out to eat, thehouseofem and I made a very, very wise decision by choosing the latter. Japanese food came to mind almost immediately given its ‘lightness’ (to somewhat compensate for the missed class) and because we were craving it. Win win! A quick search on Japanese restaurants in the area landed us at Chiba in Moonee Ponds.
Its interior was decked out in many elements of black and red.
Upon closer inspection, thehouseofem noticed that one wall was comprised entirely of tessellating chopstick holders.
Complimentary bean shoot salad.
We heard the sound of Japanese being spoken from one staff member to another and thehouseofem took this as a very promising sign.
Agedashi tofu - fried bean curd, served in light soya and ginger sauce, topped with bonito flakes.
It was served freshly cooked and piping hot. The outside coating possessed a texture and taste that was quite similar to tempura batter. The thickness of the exterior was perfectly proportional to the silky tofu interior; it soaked up the right amount of sauce, distributing the gingery soy flavour evenly throughout the tofu, without losing too much of its crispness.
Homemade Japanese croquettes - tasty fish and potato croquettes, served with salad and barbecue sauce.
Delightfully crisp. The pickled carrots provided a nice sour contrast to the well-mashed potato.
Katsu don - crumbed pork cutlet and onion, cooked with egg on rice.
A severe hankering for katsu don was cured from the very first bite to the last. The crumbed layer on the pork was crunchy and served in a generous sea of egg.
Nabeyaki udon - hot thick udon noodles soup served with tempura prawn, chicken, vegetables and raw egg.
The flavours and the warmth provided by the udon made it one very fulfilling, enjoyable and stomach-warming dish. Perfect for winter. The ramen-like soup base wasn’t too overpowering, with frequent bouts of enoki mushroom flavour detectable. Ingredients like shiitake and chinese cabbage added what I thought was a subtle Chinese twist to a Japanese dish.
In the battle between the noodle dish and the rice vying for the title of better-tasting dish, it was too close to call and neither one came out as a clear victor.
Banana tempura - deep fried banana in light batter, served with syrup and vanilla or green tea ice cream. (We forked out for an extra scoop of ice cream so that we could get both flavour options)
The banana tempura was exactly that: banana covered in a lighter-than-usual tempura batter. The cooked banana was soft and mooshy, tasting quite sweet especially in contrast to the slightly savoury batter.
Chiba is one out of only a handful of restaurants that demonstrate good Japanese food is within reach (or a suburb or two away) for west-siders after all. Great dining atmosphere and excellent-tasting food at affordable prices. What are you waiting for?
41 Hall St,
Moonee Ponds, Victoria, 3039.
(03) 9326 0248
I’ve lost track of the number of times I have been asked the question, “Have you tried the soft shell crab sushi rolls at Kenzan?” but it’s happened on several occasions. And by a different person each time. After being asked the same question for the umpteenth time, I decided I needed to get myself some of this supposedly superb Kenzan sushi. On the day I went, Chugasm’s lunch break came at around the same time so I was spared from the experience of dining alone.
From afar, I could spot their sushi rolls. What I couldn’t spot until I was right up close at the counter was their menu… Suddenly, my mind wandered from the sushi option and onto their other options…
Busy busy. There were no spots for two when we arrived and we had to stand around for a few minutes before getting the end of a table. Come early to beat the lunch rush or be prepared to wait/get takeaway.
Miso soup and soft shell crab sushi roll.
In the end I was enticed by the other options and didn’t get the sushi roll. But chugasm did. I think like everyone else, he enjoyed the sushi roll. It looks like I will have to come back.
Mmmm miso soup.
Chugasm mentioned that the sashimi pieces tasted very fresh.
The tempura tasted no better but no worse than the typical tempura dish from any good ol’ Japanese restaurant. The batter was quite light and fluffy. Underneath the fried-ness, the prawn and veggies tasted surprisingly juicy and fresh. The flavours from the broth were similar to a less saltier version of soy sauce and coupled with the “light” tempura, the combination went perfectly with the rice. I would happily order this again… and maybe try to fit in the soft shell crab sushi. Anyone want to go halvies?
Kenzan @ GPO
350 Bourke St,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
(03) 9663 7767
A restaurant with a name such as Big Mamas’s would no doubt get some eyebrow raises. What type of cuisine do they serve? Is that even a restaurant? These were the questions that were running through my mind when I first heard about the restaurant. After making sure that Big Mama’s was indeed a restaurant, a few of the lab members and I made the 5-10 minute trek over.
Check out the pretty tree on the wall. Oh, and the man who just happened to be looking when I took a snap.
Complimentary miso soup.
BiBimBab - warm white rice topped with sauteed and seasoned vegetables, beef and fried egg.
All Dr. K had to say about this dish was that it was good. Seeing as I also had the bibimbap, I will elaborate further (see the description for two photos down)
Pork bento box, with side dishes and rice.
N also said his meal was good. Going by appearance, it did indeed look good. And N mentioned that he would come back, so I think that seems to indicate that it was good grub.
From the few lunch adventures we have been on, it’s clear that many of the lab members are very articulate when it comes to expressing their opinions about their meals haha!
Hotpot BiBimBap - warm white rice topped with sauteed and seasoned vegetables, beef and fried egg, served in a hotpot.
For an extra $1.50, get your meal scorching hot and your rice on the crispier side. That’s basically the only difference between the bibimbap served in a normal bowl (Dr K’s lunch) and a hotpot bowl. I suppose it also added to the experience and gave the dish a real Korean-y feel. I doused the dish with chilli paste and there I ended up with some good ol’ bibimbap. It tasted like the typical bibimbap you get at other K-restaurants. Considering the cheaper prices here, getting standard-tasting Korean food is a win!
Ten Don - bowl of rice topped with deep fried prawn, vegetables and sweetened soy sauce.
Did I mention they also serve Japanese food here? Well, they do. J.P. had the tempura prawns and vege on rice. If memory serves, the prawns were good and there was too much rice. Mmmm, again going by appearance it does look delish!
So while I did have my doubts about the food served at a restaurant called ‘Big Mama’s’, these thoughts dissipated almost soon after stepping foot into the establishment. Nice venue with a somewhat modern feel. Great aroma coming from the mix of Japanese and Korean food. And finally the most important, good food. Oh, let’s not forget the cheap prices as well! GREAT for uni students! This one is definitely a keeper.
466 Swanston St,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3053