Name: Yoyogi
Location: 211-213 Swanston St, CBD
Price range: Entrees $3-8, Main $7-15, Desserts $4-7, Drinks $1.50-5

Yoyogi is another cheap-eats place in the city. It’s been one of my favourites to go to for lunch whenever I am in the city with a group of friends. If there aren’t any other suggestions, I will steer the crowd towards Yoyogi. Often subconsciously.

The front part of the shop sells sushi, which is good if you’re eating lunch by yourself, but the real stuff happens at the back. Just walk up and request seats for 2, or 5, or however many people you can rope into having lunch at Yoyogi. Yoyogi does Japanese food, and has a wide range of items on its menu. Not to mention the menu also has pictures of everything so you can point to something that catches your eye. Another reason why I like Yoyogi is the way they serve tempura separate to your ramen. Usually tempura is placed on top of the soup noodles, which irks me because the batter becomes soggy. I enjoy picking up a piece of tempura prawn, usually well-blotted, and taking a bite of it before dunking it into the broth. There’s also crisp seaweed to go with it. Order geki kara ramen to see what I mean. (There will be a review on Geki Kara ramen, when I order that next time.)

Okonomiyaki (bit under $4)

Fry up some cabbage / Add delicious batter mix/ Japanese pancake

Okonomiyaki is ‘fry up whatever you want into a delicious pancake’. In Melbourne, it usually includes cabbage and carrots, maybe onion too. If you’re lucky, some more vegetables. It is served with a sweet demiglace sauce, and sweet Japanese mayonnaise. (Or any generic sweet asian mayonnaise. It’s different from the western mayonnaise, but it doesn’t take very long to get used to.) The green speckles on top is aonori, a type of seaweed.
I think they’re overly generous with both the sauce and mayo. It’s a sweet sauce, and I prefer my pancakes to be savoury. The only exceptions I will make for sweet pancakes is when they are free, or served with lemon juice, or are buttermilk pancakes with fruit.

Beef curry rice ($9.50?) (There is also Chicken curry.)

Hearty curry rice/ A super delicious food/ In mild or hot?

Oh my, curry rice. I’d say it’s one of the national cuisines of Japan. That list includes curry rice, ramen, gyoza, okonomiyaki, crepes, sweet bread, frozen yoghurt, miso soup and croquettes.  At Yoyogi, beef curry rice comes with a generous portion of rice and curry. It’s enough for two meals if you’re a light eater. In the curry part, there is beef, potato and carrots, which is exactly the sort of thing you can expect from ‘curry rice’. It also comes with a side of red pickles to freshen the palate.
Japanese curry rice (kare-raisu) is a bit of a thing of its own. It has very little resemblance to Indian or Malaysian or Thai curries. As far as I’m concerned, Japanese curry only comes from a packaged ‘curry’ roux that is dissolved into a stew of meat and vegetables to add that delicious sauce that it’s got to have. It sounds like the equivalent of Mac&Cheese, but let me assure you it is much more comforting than the ol’ Mac&Cheese. According to a polling site in Japan (Goo), 13.6% of the polling population (9921 people) eat curry rice 1-2 times a week, 44.4% eat it 2-3 times a month and 28.5% eat it every month or so. It’s easy to prepare, quick, cheap, it’s ingrained as a comfort food from childhood, so it’s no wonder curry rice is so popular in Japan. Not to mention it’s so damned tasty for what it is. (I don’t even know. Something that depends on a packaged roux pellet to be delicious doesn’t sound right by my books, but hey, it works and it is delicious.)
Here’s the link to the poll (English): http://whatjapanthinks.com/2008/10/23/murdering-curry-in-japan/

You can expect more food reviews from Yoyogi.


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