I confess the first entry in this post was technically lunch last week, so sue me.
In the Merdian mall there are at least 4 places to get Japanese style food, 3 sushi places and in the big foodcourt you will find Hikari Sushi. They have a selection of sushi in a cabinet so you can mix and match as well as a cooked to order menu. For $9.90 I ordered the Teriyaki Tofu Don (which includes Miso soup), I admit, I didn’t really have high hopes. Wow was I surprised!
I ordered, was given a electronic buzzer and went and found a table to wait. It was a busy Friday lunchtime and the foodcourt was pretty busy. I was starting to think after 15 minutes they had forgotten me, then the buzzer went off.
I was handed my tray – it was a nice one too, not the usual plastic foodcourt ones, proper china plate and everything – v. posh. The only thing I didn’t like about the tray was the polystyrene type cup for the soup and the wooden chopsticks. A mug and plastic chopsticks or a fork would have up’ed this to restaurant quality.
The tofu was soft and creamy, while the teriyaki was sticky and caramelized. The salad was simple, mesclun leaves, red onion and a few corn kernels in a Asian style light (soy?) dressing. This was a perfect accompaniment to the rice.
I give this a 4.5/5 – .5 off for the wooden chopsticks and polystyrene cup. Oh and the miso could have done with being a fraction warmer.
Definitely excellent foodcourt quality food though.
Lunch Monday found me outside Jizo Cafe & Bar. This place is always busy at both lunch and dinner times. I decided to give it a try. They have a blackboard menu and this appears to be a subset of a larger menu.
I chose the Vegetable Katsu for $11.50. I wasn’t really sure what to expect – the menu said “Crumbed vegetables, Salad & Rice”. I was thinking more like a vegetable patty but it was actually individually crumbed vegetable pieces – brussel sprout, mushroom and pumpkin. The salad was very finely shredded cabbage and carrot with a small sprig of broccoli. The dressing was served on the side and was a sesame style dressing very similar to the one I had a couple of times in Tokyo.
I am giving this a 5/5 – it was fresh and tasty. I liked having the teriyaki sauce and sesame dressings on the side. The vegetables were cooked well, not mushy and not to firm and they were piping hot.
I would definitely go back.
Could I actually be more of a fan of Japanese food than I thought?
Tuesday for lunch I walked to Tokyo Garden as I’d seen a sign in their window advertising $10 Bento boxes for lunch. They had maybe 10 options including a Vegetarian Bento.
I ordered at the counter and took a seat, I was the only customer to start with but then a few more people started to come in. I typically like bento boxes as I like the variety found in them. This one had a salad (top left), hot stirfry veges, steamed rice, tofu cube, two spring rolls and a couple of piece of pumpkin tempura and in the middle was some sweet chilli sauce.
Again the wooden chopsticks – I hate these!
Not bad value for lunch at only $10 but I after the last two meals being pretty amazing, I only give this a 3.5/5. I couldn’t fault it but I have had much better bento boxes elsewhere.
I also note that this place doesn’t have great reviews elsewhere so probably its more of a lunch than dinner place. Though I do note they have a Teppanyaki grill so if that’s your thing, it might be worth a try?
I think I must have hit the high spots early in this series and Wednesday’s lunch was decidedly underwhelming from Savoury Japan in the Meridian Mall.
$7.50 for a Mixed Vegetarian box – Inari, seaweed salad and four pieces of vegetarian sushi roll – red capsicum, avocado and cucumber. I had high hopes but the rice was very tasteless and a bit mushy. I wouldn’t get it again.
3/5 – not much more to say really other than make your way downstairs to Hikari Sushi instead.
Friday lunch, I found Savoury Japan also have a restaurant on Princes Street in Dunedin. So being brave, I decided as it looked pretty busy that I’d risk it. I wasn’t hopeful after the lunch on Wednesday being disappointing, but I figured if I avoided the sushi and went off the cooked menu I might have a better experience.
They had a number of vegetarian (and probably vegan) items. I choose the Satay Vegetables. Not a dish I usually associate with Japanese cuisine. I grabbed a table and waited for my meal. It took maybe 5 minutes to arrive and it was piping hot – fresh out the kitchen. I actually had to wait a couple of minutes for it to cool before starting.
The vegetables were cooked well, towards the softer side, and the satay was mild and not overwhelming – not too sweet and not spicy. It allowed the taste of the vegetables to come through. It also was only lightly coating the vegetables.
I thought this was good value for $9 – it was a huge serving and I couldn’t finish all the rice.
I give it 4/5. I would go back and try some of the other items on their menu which was extensive and offered a number of vegetarian dishes. They also had a cabinet with various sushi rolls which you could dine in or takeaway with.
So next week, what’s on the menu? I think I might mix it up a bit and try a number of different ethnic cuisines… watch this space!
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