Meiji

Name: Meiji Japanese cafe
Location: 105 Little Bourke St CBD
Cost: $10-15 for pot rice, dinner menu can extend up to $20
Cost rating: 4/5
Taste rating: 8/10
Overall rating: 8/10
Would I come back? Yes.

paper screen

A wall partition/divide space and filter light/Tranquil ambiance

goldfish

Peace in a glass bowl/Are things going ‘swimmingly’?/They are for these fish.

Meiji is a small Japanese place with cosy décor. There are paper screens, beer flags and even a fishbowl. Meiji does something I haen’t seen at other casual Japanese places– pot rice. It’s a rustic rice dish with toppings, a little bit like a ‘donburi’ but the rice is more flavoured with the ingredients . Think of it as a cross between fried rice and donburi, with everything steamed together in a claypot. (Not that it is served in a claypot at Meiji, but the way they serve it is also charming.)

Everything else (bento and ramen) aren’t done as well as the pot rices, and frankly, there are better places for bento and ramen nearby. Go to Meiji for their pot-rices.

 
GOMOKU GOHAN (5 ingredient rice medley) ($10)
Score: 10/10
Would I order it again? Yes.

gomoku gohan

Chicken, egg and prawn?/Three protein sources in one/ Oh wait, make that four.

bowlful

Bowlful with all things/Still another two bowls left/ But… so delicious

Meiji does the pot of rice flavoured with many ingredients as it is cooking. Sometimes I read up on gomoku gohan in Japanese cuisine books, and it looks like the perfect winter/autumn food. The rice servings in these pot-rices are fairly large, there 2 bowlfuls in there. For gomoku goban, there is chicken, prawn, quail egg, soft omelette slices, ginko nuts, something like beans crossed with water spinach (fern bracken?) and shiitake mushrooms.
Out of all the pot-rices, gomoku goban would have to be the best value-for-money meal. Big serve, plenty of toppings, super tasty and visually appealing.

SUTAMINA GOHAN ($14)
Score: 9/10
Would I order it again? Yes

stamina gohan

Sweet oily eel flesh/Unagi makes things better/Unless allergic

bowl stamina rice

Kimchi seeped white rice/ if you know not of this joy/ kimchi fried rice, go!

Sutamina is Japanese for ‘stamina’. Stamina rice has things traditionally thought to give you energy and counters lethargy. The rice has kimchi sauce through it, and there’s also some kimchi on top. Presumably to give you a kick in the mouth? There is also some grilled eel, which is said to counter lethargy on humid hot days. Beef, because as we all know eating big animals with red meat makes you grow up big and strong. There’s also a vegetable which I think is fern bracken, and shiitake mushroom as well.
Really tasty, but not an additional $4 worth of tasty. (If there is such as thing.)

ASARITAKENORI GOHAN
Score: 8.5/10
Would I order it again? Yes.

clam clam

Little clams in rice/Little bursts of umami/An elegant dish

Clams, mushroom and vegetable.

 

BUTAKAKUNI GOHAN

Score: ?

Would I order this? Yes.

Meiji butakakuni gohan

Chunks of pork belly/ Jelly-like fat, tender meat/Best of all, the sauce

Pork belly with sweet soy-based sauce.
TORIAGE TAMAGO GOHAN
Score: 7.5/10
Would I order it again? No.

Meiji chickenegg gohan

Fried chicken with sauce/ with strips of egg underneath/Chicken or the egg?

Fried chicken with soft sliced omelette. The fried chicken batter has a slight flour taste but tasty enough.

MISO SOUP
Score: 8/10
Would I order it again? Yes

miso soup and pickles

miso and pickles/This should be compulsory/with every rice dish

Miso soup actually comes with the pot-rice, so I didn’t have to order it separately. It has wakame seaweed, spring onion and tofu in it. It isn’t too salty, and I enjoy having a small bowl of soup to go with my rice. My friend’s soup got cold after he finished his meal and the lady offered to reheat it for him. How nice is that!

PICKLES
Score: 9/10
Would I order this again? – (comes with pot-rice)

I thought the little dish of assorted pickles was a nice touch. The yellow and pink ones taste the same and are pickled daikon radish, the green ones are dill pickles.

KAKI (OYSTER) FRY
Score: 7/10
Would I order this again? Yes.

Meiji kaki fry

Battered, fried oysters/would be great in a po’boy/ not bad on its own

Small oysters, crumbed and fried. They are drained well so the lettuce isn’t soaking in oil. It’s a simple entrée, but the mayonnaise and fried seafood combination works for me. I wouldn’t order it by myself (because I don’t like oysters very much), but if someone was willing to share, then I would order this again.

AGEDASHI TOFU
Score: 7/10
Would I order this again? No.

Meiji agedashi tofu

Crispy fried tofu/ Every haiku starts like this/Tofu deja vu

It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. From memory, both Ajisen and Yamato around the corner or down the street does a better agedashi tofu. Or it did several years ago. It could do with more umami from bonito or mushrooms. As it is it is quite plain.

HOTATE BATAYAKI
Score: 8/10
Would I order it? Yes.

butter garlic scallops

Butter and garlic/teriyaki sauce scallops/A hot tasty meal

Scallops sauteed in butter and garlic. Good combination. The scallops are soft and barely done in the middle, just as they should be. They taste fresh too. A bit on the salty side for me.

SASHIMI BENTO
Score: ?
Would i order it? Probably not.

sashimi bento is more like sushi bento

Sashimi bento/Not much fish, despite the name/Snacky food bento?

For a sashimi bento there isn’t much raw fish. The takoyaki (the three balls with sauce on them) are delicious, though if memory serves me right, there wasn’t much octopus. It was very soft and delicious, and had a good sauce. The scalloped round biscuit object in the bottom left-hand corner is a glutinous rice cake with sweet and savoury coating. My friend didn’t like it much, but I thought it was tasty. Maybe misplaced in a rice box. It would make a good snack or post-meal nibble.

CHASHU RAMEN
Score: ?
Would I order it? No.

anaemic ramen

Chashu, or ‘char siu’/is a delicious grilled meat/ Back onto ramen…

The ramen at Meiji looks anaemic compared to those at Ajisen or any other place that does ramen. Judging from the picture, I wouldn’t order the ramen at Meiji. I know the pot-rice is great at Meiji so there is very little that’ll steer me away from those.

MELON CALPIS
SOY MILK

drinks in cups

See drinks in glass cups/ Behold, the feats of canning/ How convenient

In conclusion, order a pot rice.
Meiji Japanese Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Fruit infused vodka

This is not an instant noodle post, nor a places-for-eats post. It would almost be a recipe post, except for the fact there is no recipe. I wanted to share the colourful photos of fruit-infused vodka.
Vodka comes in many flavours nowadays. Most of time as alcopops, but sometimes as fruit-infused vodka. Unfortunately, many of these fruit-flavoured vodkas are simply that. Fruit- FLAVOURED vodka. So, we set out to infuse vodka with real fruit.

We made four different infusions:
1. Vanilla pod. The palest of them all, a pale yellowish colour.
2. An apple infusion with Pink Lady apples. A pale yellow colour, a warm tone.
3. Orange and lime. Another yellow, but tinted green.
4. Strawberry. Red. A bright pinkish red.

A rainbow line-up/ So, can you taste the rainbow?/ A Skittles reference

After 10 days or so, we took the fruit out and strained the vodka to remove any fruit bits. The question may have occured to you: what do you do with the fruit? The answer is: We ate them and enjoyed their sweet booziness in a drunken afternoon. (Only without the drunken afternoon part.)

Onwards to making a quick fruit relish/jam or making the vodka-filled fruit edible as a food item. The cream cheese pancake batter was made beforehand so that there may be eating as prompt as possible.

One, place your vodka-fruit dregs into a pan. Notice how washed out for colour these strawberries are. Some colour will return once they are heated and cooked through with sugar. Add however mush sugar you think it needs.

Strawberries are red/ There is no blue in the fruits/ It's still a poem

We also sliced up the apple into small chunks and cooked those with the strawberries. We started off with around 3 tablespoons of white sugar and added sugar as we went. While the fruit is slowly heated through with sugar to cook out some alcohol, we added some knobs of butter to another fry pan for pancakes.

Cooking out vodka/ A case of multitasking/ Cooking up pancakes

The cream cheese batter is lumpy, as you can see. But fear not! The lumps are from the cream cheese, and add an element of surprise to your pancakes. I like different textures. Homogeneny is good in supermarkets, but that can get boring.

A fluffy batter/ The thickness is deceiving/ Cream cheese makes it light

Back to the stewing strawberries and apples. See how the strawberries regain some colour? I have no idea how that happens, but I can put out a few theories. None of them involving aliens or magic. You can cook the strawberries and apple for as long as you like. We waited until a large portion of the alcohol cooked out for the ones who are light-weight drinkers. (Namely, myself. I can’t bring myself to drink anything that smells too strongly of something I use to wipe down benches in a science laboratory.)

So, back to the pancakes.

An observation/ Why do pancakes have a rim?/ A nearly-burnt rim

You can use vegetable oil to fry your pancakes if you don’t want to use butter. We’re fairly decadent when it comes to dessert. ;D

Speaking of decadence, we opted to use more of the vodka fruit. Meet our new contestants. Oranges and limes. Sprinkle some brown sugar over those and wait for it to caramelise.

Citrus caramel/ Candied vodka citrus rounds/ One can only dream

Pancakes onto a plate for sharing.

Plate up the pancakes/ Stewed fruit and buttery noms/ It's also boozy

Plated up for your viewing pleasure.

The side with stewed fruit/ How is the presentation?/ Stripey board as prop.

 

See the sliced pancake/ Soft, fluffy and cream cheese-y/ Much like buttermilk

My, oh my. Fluffy cream cheese pancakes are delicious! Buttermilk brings pancakes up to another level of fluffiness, but cream cheese is the level above that. The strawberries remind me of jam, but no surprises there. They are both basically fruit and sugar stewed together. Except this one has vodka in it. I suppose jam could also have vodka in it, but I’ve yet to see it. (But is it a good idea to start the day with boozy jam on toast?) The apples are even better than the strawberries, for they are still crunchy. The strawberries are just soft and pulpy.
With the oranges and limes, the pancakes take me back to primary school. Back in the good old days where we had pancakes with lemon juice and sugar. I enjoy pancakes with lemon and sugar, but this, this! This would be the adults-version. Save it for your next dinner party.