Yamato 2

Name: Yamato
Location: 223 Exhibition St, tucked into the laneway near corner Lonsdale/Exhibition Sts
Price: Mains $10-20, Dessert $4-7
Price score: 4/5
Overall score: 8.5/10
I really enjoyed Yamato’s ambiance the first time, so I came back a second time with more people. I also wanted to show you better pictures of Yamato’s interior, and here they are.

Noren cloth curtains/ A wall scroll with 'Yamato'/ We're in the right place

Does this room seat four?/ No, it actually seats six./Suspicion confirmed.

TOFU STEAK
Cost: $14?
Taste: 9.5/10
Would I order this? Yes.

Witches of Macbeth/ Double toil and trouble/ Hot tofu bubbles

It’s a vegetarian dish comprising of deep fried tofu, mushrooms and a deeply flavoured sauce. It’s a great umami hit. The tofu is sizzling in the sauce when it is plated for you. You allow it to cool just enough so you don’t burn your mouth, and the tofu absorbs the sauce to become sponges for delicious sauce. I heart sauce. One of the things that disappoint me whenever I order deep-fried tofu is how dry it can be. It really needs to be reconsituted in advance, and then drenched in sauce. But I wasn’t disappointed here, because there is sauce. The serving is quite sizeable too.

KATSUDON
Cost: $11
Taste: 9/10
Would I order this? Yes, I would order it again, but only if I had to. Not because it’s bad, but because I need to exhaust the entire menu before going back to it. There are other foods to be explored here.

Generous topping size/ But rice serving is quite small/ Up to perspective

The portions for their dons (rice with toppings) are fairly small, so beware. I wouldn’t say I have a large appetite, but this serving size leaves me -just- satisfied. But I could go a sushi roll afterwards, maybe two. But occassionally, one should only eat til satisfied. Think of it as the samurai experience.
Apart from my problem with serving sizes, their katsudon is good! The chicken is crispy, and there is egg to bind the chicken together. It’s a lot of chicken for the amount of rice given to you. But you don’t hear me complaining about that.

TENDOJI DON
Cost: $13?
Taste: 7/10
Would I order this again? No.

Hello portmanteau/ One of my favourite word kinds/ Many words in one

Tendoji don is a portmanteau of tenpura, tonjiru and donburi. Tempura are deep-fried small pieces of vegetables or seafood in a light batter. Tonjiru, also known as butajiru, a pork-based soup. It’s thicker than miso soup, and commonly has deep-fried tofu, tubers or a seaweed in it to make it an even heartier soup. Donburi is a rice bowl with toppings. Combine all three words together, and you get ‘tendo-ji-don’.
The fried seafood and vegetables are crisp, but I think the batter was a bit heavy-handed. To me, tenpura should only have a very thin, very crisp layer of batter. But in the Melbourne scene, tenpura seems to always be heavy-handed. This would be in the medium-thickness category of things. The thickest tenpura I have been and eaten was a tempura prawn. It had a diameter of a 20c coin, and the prawn in the middle wasn’t even 5c-coin-sized in diameter. Refer to the picture and judge for yourselves for batter thickness. It includes tempura prawn, white fish, sweet potato and green capsicum.
In the other vessel, there is a very salty pork soup with egg stirred through it. It’s so-so. The saltiness blankets over any other flavours, which is disappointing. I like eggs, but I would also like something else in the pork broth, such as sweet potato, or seaweed, or even just chopped spring onions.

DAIFUKU
Cost: $3.80
Taste: 10/10
Would I get it again? Yes.

Cut into three bits/ I can cut eleven bits/ By force of habit

I’ve already reviewed this, but here’s a better picture.

Yamato Japanese on Urbanspoon

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Kenzan

Name: Kenzan
Location: 350 Bourke St, Melbourne CBD, GPO eating strip
Price range: Mains $10-15
Price score: 4/5
Taste: 9/10
Would I go there again? Yes.

If you’re into california rolls in Melbourne, then you’ve most likely heard about Kenzan. If not, go to Kenzan and order a sushi roll. The rice and seaweed are separated with a thin sheet of plastic, and when you pull the tabs, by some form of engineering ingenuity, the seaweed wraps around the rice and you are left with a sushi roll with crisp seaweed. Magic.

But we’re not here today for their sushi rolls or rice balls, we’re here for a more substantial hot meal.

*TERIYAKI CHICKEN WITH VEGETABLES (with rice)
The icecream scoop of mashed potato is a nice touch. Very cute. The vegetables are blanched. The teriyaki chicken portion is generous, and has a tasty sweet teriyaki sauce. You can’t go wrong. (Unless you were severely allergic to sesame seeds. That would be terrible.)

Teriyaki sauce/ Wherein does the appeal lie?/ It is delicious

*TENZOBA

Tenzoba is soba (buckwheat noodles) with tenpura. The broth is clear, but can be overly salty. The soba has been thoroughly washed beforehand so it isn’t starchy. It is so good. The tenpura was crispy, up until they placed it into your bowl of noodles.

I was so impressed by their soba, that I had food envy. Despite being a fan of udon.

Hot buckwheat noodles/ Simplicity aesthetic/ Just eat it with tea

VEGETABLE FRITTER UDON
Cost: $10
Taste: 7/10
Word of advice, eat your fritters as soon as you can. They will soak up broth and become soggy and fall apart. Udon is great. Broth can be very salty. Seaweed is a welcome addition.

Udon noodle soup/ What can make it heartier?/ Vegetables fritters

Gotta come back and have their soba, and their sushi and riceballs.  Might as well try everything else too.

Kenzan @ GPO on Urbanspoon

Ikea Foodcourt

Name: Ikea food court, the food court of Ikea
Location: 630 Victoria St, Richmond 3121, Inside IKEA
Price: Mains $4-13, drinks $2.25-3.5, desserts $3

SOFT SERVE
Cost: 5/5 (50 cents!)
Taste: For a 50c soft serve cone, 8/10. I had expected it to be very similar to MacDonald’s cones. But I am pleasantly surprised. It has a vanilla-like flavour to it, rather than just sugar.
Much better than the softserve at McDonalds’. You trade in 50 cents for a metal button, which can be slotted into the soft serve machine, and a wafer cone. Place the cone in the place alloted for the cone….

Place cone in machine/ It says 'Press once' so press once/ Swivelling soft-serve

Voila! Creamy vanilla-flavoured soft serve in a cone-shaped wafer cone.

Soft serve like a cloud/ Analogy to nowhere/ Just accept it's good

CHICKEN AND PASTA
Cost: $7
Taste: 6/10
Would I order it again? No.
I don’t understand the facination with the Ikea food court. It’s not cheap for the type of food you’re receiving, nor is it tasty in comparison to other food courts. It baffles me.
The pasta is overdone, and on the soft side. The vegetables are swimming in pasta starch. It’s your standard school cafeteria lunch fare, if you went to a boarding school or had school lunches in your programme. (Coincidentally, I didn’t, but this is what I imagine it’d be like.) The chicken isn’t dry, but it isn’t juicy either. It’s not bland, or tasting of anything in particular. It’s all average.

TV dinner-esque/ Instant food has its own charm/ See instant noodles

ORANGE SODA

Carbonated drink/ What flavour are you, I ask/ It must be orange

COFFEE
Cost: $2.25, for a cup, and as much refills as you want.
Taste: 4/10
Would I order it again? No.
$2.25 to use a mug. That’s smart. But the drinks are so awful. Maybe it’s just part of the plan.

Ikea coffee/ I'd take Nescafe Instant/ but they taste the same

FERMENTED APPLE DRINK
Cost: $3
Taste: 5/10
Would I buy it again? No.
Fermented apple drink would sounds like very sweet cider, but it isn’t. It’s more like watered down carbonated apple juice.

Tasty apple drink?/ It tastes like disappointment/ And sugar syrup

MEATBALLS AND CHIPS/MASH
Cost: $8?
Taste: 5/10
Would I order it? No.

Apparently the star of the Ikea foodcourt are the meatballs. I see the appeal, but it doesn’t live up to expectations. The meatballs are very heavily breadcrumbed and don’t have the texture of meat. More like a meaty paste with some grisly textural bits. The mayonnaise and lingonberry jam complete the experience, but neither of these sauces have any zing to them. I could have enjoyed these as a child, when I used to enjoy Chicken MacNuggets. Unfortunately, the appeal is lost on me now.
Mash: instant-mash.
Chips: Average chips, but I like chips. Needs a second fry.

Little Sweden flag/ On a Swedish meatball mound/ Kids' meal nostalgia

Chips make things better/ Meatballs are no exception/ Fry those potatoes

APPLE TART

Apparently it’s dry and overly sweet. (I like my apple tarts with more apple than pastry, especially the dry biscuity kind.)

Apple tart or cake?/ Either way, needs more apple/ Too full to sample

IKEA Restaurant & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Yukimi Daifuku

Yukimi daifuku is a famous brand of mochi icecreams. Icecream mochi has a different sort of mochi, it’s more a wrapper for the icecream rather than a chewy glutinous delight on its own. Not that icecream mochi isn’t enjoyable, but the texture is different.

Cost: $11.90

Contents: 21 individually wrapped yukimi daifukus.

Would I buy it again? Yes.

Moon-viewing mochi/ Moon rabbits pounding mochi/ And churning ice cream?

There are three flavours. Vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. Vanilla is good. Strawberry is the artifcial strawberry taste, much like Strawberry Big-M. Chocolate was disappointing, with a Chocolate Nesquik taste.

Taste: 3/5 inidividually, but mochi icecream is generally is 4/5.

The chewy mochi skin is good with the yielding icecream inside. But they are still delicious, and there is only one substitute; that is the larger yukimi daifuku in the two-pack.

Happy Kappa

Name: Happy Kappa
Location: 85 Swan St, Richmond
Price range: Mains $10-15
Overall rating: 8.5/10

There is a picture menu! The menu is limited, but it has enough range for the hungry travelling band.

Love picture menus/ If in doubt, point to picture/ It has served me well

The deco is neat too. The walls are lined with Japanese cultural artifacts, and the place feels cosy without being too shabby.

Islands of tables/ Walls covered in bric-a-brac/ Communal feeling

*TORIAGE UDON

Huzzah! Fried chicken/ Delicious in all its forms/ A bowl of udon

*TORIAGE DON

Fried chicken again/ Also good on hot white rice/ Or even brown rice

*TORIAGE RAMEN

Yet more fried chicken/ Maybe chicken noodle soup/ Fried chicken in soup?

*TOFU CURRY

Some tofu this time/ A Japanese curry rice/ Strange, but still tasty

*KATSU CURRY

Fried chicken cutlet/ In Japanese curry roux/ Noticing a theme?

*: These were ordered by other people who kindly let me hover about and take photos of their food. According to photos and response of the crowd, I’d say they were a success.  A word of advice, toriage is fried chicken pieces and is less lean than the chicken used in chicken katsu. Of course, with the addition of a bit of fat and dark meat, toriage is more flavoursome than chicken katsu. Katsu will be crispier though, through the crumbing process.

KATSU BENTO BOX
Price: 4/5
Taste: 9/10
Would I get it again? Yes

Fried chicken cutlet/ Rice, pickles, slaw and shumai/ Everything I want

On the right, white rice with red pickles, with some black sesame too. On the left, in the small compartment, soy sauce (which I didn’t feel the need to use) and 2 homemade dimsum. The dimsum have pork, onion and cabbage inside. (There was also a vegetable croquette in the small compartment, but that was eaten before I took the picture. It was crispy on the outside, and so soft on the inside. Delicious fluffy potato-ey goodness.) In the larger compartment, there is a cutlet of fried chicken with demi glace sauce, on a bed of shredded cucumber/lettuce/cabbage/carrot and a slice of tomato.

Normally, I avoid coleslaw because it’s usually been sitting around in a dressing for a while, and I am objected to salads sitting in dressing. But this bed of shredded vegetables doesn’t have any dressing, and it’s still fresh-looking despite being very finely sliced. It is a welcome addition to the meal. The katsu (cutlet of fried chicken) is crunchy and hot. A win in my books.

If you ever walk down Swan St to the football, give Happy Kappa a go.

Happy Kappa on Urbanspoon

Pho Dzung (Chicken and the Cow)

Name: Something in vietnamese. It has a picture of a chicken and a cow.
Address: 234 Russell St, Melbourne CBD (Cnr Russell, Lonsdale)
Price range: Small pho $8.50, medium $9.50, large $10.50, other things $8-15
Price rating: 5/5, 4/5 for other things on the menu which makes sense since they specialise in pho. But the spring rolls are pretty tasty.

Taste: 4/5 Best pho place in the city. For the 5/5, go to Victoria St.

Overall rating: 8.5/10. It’s my favourite pho place in the city.

Pho is a vietnamese rice noodle with a beef broth, and beef toppings. There are variations that use chicken, but beef is most common. The broth is prepared a day in advance with beef bones and spices, then gently simmered away, and impurites are scooped away, leaving a very clear flavoursome broth behind. Put some rice noodles into a bowl, add whatever toppings you like. Pick from cooked beef, thinly sliced raw beef that’ll cook when boiling broth is ladled in, beef sausage, beef balls, tendom, tripe, chicken and pork sausage slices.
Serve it up with a dish of fresh bean sprouts and Vietnamese basil, lemon and chilli. Add it all together and use the heat of the broth to cook these things. It’s fresh, fragrant but still mealy from the sheer quantity of stuff you get.

*VIETNAMESE COFFEE ($3)
Vietnamese coffee is condensed milk, with strong black coffee that’s been slow-dripped from a percolator. It’s good hot, but the real magic lies in it being ice cold. Add some ice, and suck it down on a hot day. Refreshing, with a buzz.

Drip percolator/ Minutes pass drip drip drip/ Finally, coffee!

CONDIMENTS PLATE (comes with each bowl of pho. Or shared between two people. Whichever saves the most room. This place has a quick turnover, and the tables are small.)
Bean sprouts, vietnamese basil (add as much or as little as you like), and a small bowl of lemon wedges and sliced chili.)

Boo, lemon in eye/ Add condiments at the start/ Flavour infusion

PHO

You can order any toppings you like, by listing them when you order. Or you can point to set combinations of toppings. I like to order the Beef Combination without tendon when ordering a small bowl, and with tendon for medium bowl. I haven’t ever ordered a large bowl because it’s roughly the size of a wash basin, too big for me to finish. Small bowl is enough for me most of the time. I order a Medium bowl when ravenous. (It doesn’t look as grey as it does in the picture, that’s from the fluorescent lighting.)

Beef Co-co-combo!/ Good for the indecisive/ You get everything

Would I order this again? Yes, and have multiple times.

Pho Dzung City Noodle Shop on Urbanspoon

Seven Seeds

Name: Seven Seeds
Location: 114 Berkeley St, Carlton 3053
Price range: Breakfast $4.50-$9.50, Lunch $10.50-$13.50, Drinks $4-7
Cost rating: 3/5
Taste rating: 5/5 (“It’s all good.”)

Filled baguette with chorizo, sauteed onion, pecorino, sherry aioli and cos lettuce/strong> Cost: $10.50

Overall rating: 9/10

I docked a point from the baguette because it wasn’t a baguette on the day, but a sandwich with turkish bread. That is not a problem most of the time, because I like turkish bread. The problem is the how messy it was to eat the sandwich. I could always opt to use a knife and fork, but to me that seems wrong for a sandwich. If you’re an experienced sandwich-eater and have overcome the problem of tacking stacked sandwiches being messy to eat, then this will be a 10/10. Of course, there wouldn’t be this issue if it was a baguette. Aside from the mess issue, this is a delicious sammich. Especially if you like chorizo. The fried chorizo is crispy, and the sauteed onion and pecorino cheese isn’t too salty combined with the aioli and cos lettuce. The lettuce and onions are very important for texture. (This place seems to love sherry-based sauces. The last time I came here, there was another sherry sauce with caramelised onions.)

Look at the pickle/ Chomp it down after sandwich/ Order another

Crushed pea, mint and spring onion FR (Free Range) egg omelette, whipped feta, beetroot jam, hot pressed sourdough sandwich

Cost: $11.50

Overall rating: ? (It looked very very good. I had food envy. Everything here gives me food-envy.)

Peas: Where is the love?/Omelette in my sammich/Colourful relish

Chorizo and adzuki bean soup, served with toasted sourdough
Cost: $10.50
Overall rating: ? (Good enough for a “I need to make this.”)

Adzuki bean soup/ As a savoury main meal/ Mental dissonance

(To me adzuki beans have one purpose, and that is make red bean paste in all its delicious sweet variations. This soup blows my mind.)

Roasted mixed mushrooms, basil pesto, poached FR egg and turkish bread Cost: $13.50

Overall rating: ? (But damn, it looks good. Smells good too. Damn that pesto.)

Vegetarian/ Mushrooms for B vitamins/ Eggs are all protein

 

Seven Seeds on Urbanspoon