Category Archives: Japanese

Saturday night at Nobu

Saturday night at Crown Casino is not for the faint hearted. There are no parking spaces and lots of teenagers. And promo girls. It’s like entering a shopping mall that never closes. Ever.

Still, we brave the crowds and arrive early for our late-sitting at Nobu. We plan on having a cocktail in the bar – but our table’s already free, so we head down straight away. As luck would have it, we are shown the least well-lit table in the room (so apologies in advance for the shadowy pics).

We are given the menus – and the spiel. You can order a la carte – but they recommend naming your price per head and letting them choose your dishes. Or going with one of the set-price set menus. But you get the feeling that ordering for yourself would be more fun. So we go a la carte and pick the dishes that appeal to us most, plus a glass of wine to start.

It takes close to 20 minutes for the first dishes to arrive. Which would be fine, except that our wines haven’t turned up and we’re forced to remind the wait staff we’re still um, waiting?

By the time our wines arrive, we’ve had: sashimi tacos of yellowtail, salmon, lobster and crab (nice – liked the side of salsa very much) and baby tiger prawn tempura with creamy spicy sauce (also good – generous with the portion size, although a bit too light on the tempura?).

Four little tacos, all in a row

Saucy prawns ; )

All is forgiven when the crispy soft shell crab arrives. This is my favourite dish – the pineapple shiso ponzu is delicious and absolutely makes it.

Soft shell crab with shiso ponzu - dish of the day!

Next comes the very pretty ‘Nobu style’ fish and chips – five pieces of tempura cod with two chunky sweet potato chips, plus two very yummy dipping sauces. This one is a winner too.

Fish and chips - Nobu style

These are followed by scallops, some tempura vegies (shitake mushroom and some suprisingly awesome broccoli) and tuna sashimi. N. loves the scallops and in particular the wasabi pepper sauce. And the tuna sashimi is pretty hard to fault.

Scallops with vegies in a very tasty wasabi pepper sauce

Tempura broccoli and shitake

My tiny tuna sashimi

Seven courses down and I feel we’ve ordered well. We keep the hat-trick going with dessert, choosing the bento box with hot chocolate fondant, green tea ice cream and a goma tuile. Although I think the waitress forgets to place our order, as she comes back 15 minutes later to ask, was it the caramel marshmallow dish we were after? We correct her and the bento box arrives soon after.

It’s so pretty – and it tastes as good as it looks. Lovely spoonfuls of warm and runny fondant coupled with refreshing green tea ice cream – delish. We almost misplace the tuile what with the low lighting and all, but thankfully I’m diligant enough to scrape the bottom of the bento box before we’re done. Crisis averted.

Dessert-in-a-bento-box

We manage to put away eight courses and three glasses of wine (not to mention our Fijian water at $12 a bottle) and the bill comes to just over $100 a head. While I can’t fault the food – it is consistently good – the service isn’t of the same standard, which is a shame. But as we finish up, the extra-late sitting keeps coming in. Clearly, when it comes to Crown, the house always wins.

Nobu
8 Whiteman Street, Southbank
www.noburestaurants.com

Nobu

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Mid-week at Momotaro Rahmen

It’s the middle of the week. The mercury has dropped. And by the time I leave work, it’s already dark. Time for some comfort food.

I make a bee-line to one of my favourite local eateries, Momotaro Rahmen, where I’m sure to find something that’s hearty but wholesome.

Momotaro Rahmen is a cosy little Japanese joint on Bridge Road. There’s a giant peach sign out the front, and whole place emits a warm, cheery glow from the street.

Better still, there’s a whole  menu dedicated to vegetarian options. There’s the rahmen – which is hearty and good, vegetarian gyoza (with chickpeas, chives, spinach and garlic), vegetarian Japanese curry, teriyaki tofu with rice, potatoe croquettes and more. (And for those who eat seafood, the takoyaki – or octopus balls – are delicious.)

But  instead of a big hot bowl of vegetable rahmen, I switch seasons and go for one of my favourites: the cold noodle salad.

The cold noodle salad is not listed on the vegetarian menu – nor the main menu for that matter. In fact, it seems to have its own ‘specials’ listing (although it’s always available). It features on a poster on its own and usually comes with slices of pork, but I ask for these to be left out.

Cold noodle salad is traditionally a Summer dish, which makes perfect sense – it’s a big bowl of cooked rahmen noodles, served cold, with a refreshing sesame and rice wine vinegar dressing. It’s topped with all manner of (cold) tasty goodies, including tofu, seawood, green onion, tomato, corn, half a boiled egg (don’t ask me where the other half goes) and sliced cucumber, then drizzled with japanese mayonnaise and sprinkled with sesame seeds.  I know it’s the wrong season. But I just love all the flavours in this – it always leaves me with a warm feeling in my belly. Sometimes, comfort food is a dish best served cold!

 Momotaro Rahmen, 392 Bridge Road, Richmond

Momotaro Rahmen

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Packed lunch – Ocha2Go

After the long weekend, the only way to break the return-to-work doldrums was by grabbing a bite from my favourite local lunch spot, Ocha2Go. Little sister to modern Japanese restaurant Ocha, Ocha2Go has delighted me with a number of good vegie dishes over many a lunch break. (The tofu and vegie burger patties, glazed in teriyaki and served with a leafy salad, are a must-try. If you’re extra hungry, order with a bowl of rice to soak up the sauces.)

But my all-time favourite is the tofu and grilled vegies wrap. It’s so simple, but so good. The wraps and sushi handrolls are prepared fresh each morning and they only make a certain amount – get there too late and it’s all over red rover. The staff have told me that if I call in my order earlier in the day, they will happily put a wrap aside for me – but there is something to be said for leaving it up the lunch gods, and bagging that little pack of sweet success.

Thin mountain bread, folded around cubes of marinated tofu, pumpkin, zucchini, lettuce and adzuki sprouts, and a light teriyaki and soy sauce – all yours for just $6.50 a pack. You need two hands to eat it, but whaddya know? This week’s starting to look up.

Ocha2Go, 64 Burwood Road, Hawthorn
www.ocha2go.com.au

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