Located in Eastland’s Town Square, Kyoto Cafe provides a bit of Japanese flavour to Ringwood. Its interior is reminiscent of modern Japanese restaurants with its generous wood panelling all around. It has an open kitchen with kitchen-side dining, and room upstairs as well.
While Kyoto Cafe do offer a few Donburi’s (Rice bowls), they do have a more extensive Yakitori menu, as well as tapas dishes, sushi and bento choices. They also offer a few dessert options, most are displayed at the front of their restaurant which are basically a variety of cakes and cream puffs to choose from.
One of their bento options comes with fresh sashimi, tempura, chicken katsu and steamed egg with dipping sauces.
The sashimi were sliced into smaller pieces, but tasted quite fresh. The chicken katsu was crispy, and tender, while the tempura was also crisp with a light batter surrounding it and soft inside. There was also this odd vegetable wrap, I wasn’t fond of it and tasted a bit bland.
The steamed egg wasn’t as soft as I would have liked either and also was a tad under seasoned but still one of the better ones I’ve tried.
The Japanese Fried Chicken here has this very dark, sticky glaze on it. The chicken was tender and crisp but I wasn’t overly impressed by the flavour of the marinade. Just give me the normal Chicken Karaage.
To be honest, the main reason for coming to Kyoto Cafe was to try their desserts. The Yuzu cake had an amazingly punchy Yuzu flavour with a soft mouse layer, and a cake base.
The Green Tea cream puff wasn’t as crunchy as I’d like but it had a great Matcha cream flavour inside that kinda oozed out. The Black Sesame flavoured one is on the list to try!
The ambience at Kyoto Cafe makes for a great dining experience. The food here, while it may not be amazing, will give you a tasty meal and sometimes that’s all you’re after. The beautiful desserts don’t hurt either.
Eastland Shopping Centre
Level 3, 175 Maroondah Highway (Town Square)
Ringwood VIC 3134
CJ Lunchbar situated on the corner of Little Lonsdale St and Hardware St is a popular little eat out for those wanting a taste of Korea. CJ Lunchbar doesn’t just open for lunch like its name suggests, so you can get your Korean fix for dinner as well. What’s great about this place is that the food is good, very good and the servings are generous and value for money and their menu offers bento boxes, rice dishes, and a wide selection of hotplate and soup dishes to choose from.
Their Stonepot Bibimbap has all the ingredients for a tasty Bibimbap but it doesn’t come with the chilli paste that you’d often find provided with other Korean restaurants. Sometimes you find that the Bibimbap can be very bland, but fortunately this isn’t the case here.
One of their popular items is the Cheese Chicken Bulgogi, one night I saw like the majority of tables order it. It’s a little bit spicy, but the combination of melted cheese and marinated chicken on a hotplate is one of the best dishes you’d find around. So good.
CJ Lunchbar won’t win awards for being a relaxing dining experience, the tables are small and service is so-so but the food here is worth it.
Shop 2/391 Little Lonsdale Street (entrance on Hardware Street)
Melbourne VIC 3000
Japan Komo was recommended to me by my colleague and having never really stopped by at Mitcham, even though living quite close by, I thought it was a good incentive to take a look around there. Japan Komo is quite a small restaurant on Whitehorse Road, and seemingly ever so popular.
One thing I love is a good Spicy Tuna Roll, and funnily enough there is a little Japanese Sushi store inside Woolworths Box Hill that makes a pretty darn tasty Spicy Tuna Roll. Japan Komo’s Tuna Roll isn’t as great as I expected, they use the standard store bought Asian chilli sauce as their chilli “spice” instead of their own version version like the Woolies has (Spicy Japanese Mayo). Flavour-wise the tuna tastes fresh, but again the chilli sauce is the let down.
Their Sukiyaki Beef Bento comes with a generous serving of beef, rice, small sushi and croquettes with a side of salad and miso soup. The beef is cooked well, and the seasoning is balanced.
I’ve mentioned the fantastic Japanese curry at Momotaro Rahmen in Richmond, and this Japanese Beef Curry is quite different to the one at Momotaro. The curry here is quite watery, and I haven’t often come across a Japanese curry that isn’t even a bit thick. Flavour is there, but I found it a slightly strange and the beef a tad tough.
Japan Komo is run by Japanese (or at least cooked by Japanese) but unfortunately I found my dining experience here a disappointment. Although the food here isn’t bad by any means, there are Japanese restaurants around these parts of town that I’d prefer to go to instead (Irodori House in Box Hill or even the slightly pricey Miku in Doncaster). Maybe their other sushi rolls and sashimi are fantastic, as the reviews here are definitely overwhelmingly positive.
497 Whitehorse Road
Mitcham VIC 3132
Meshiya is a Japanese restaurant located on Lonsdale St, just outside the QV food courts entrance and Officeworks. They serve a selection of Bento boxes, Sushi, Rice and Noodle (Fried or Soup based) dishes along with their own selection of Japanese Rice Wine too. Meshiya is very hit-and-miss, unfortunately. The first few times I have eaten here, it was pretty good but on my last visit eating the same kind of food just wasn’t the same quality I came to expect. Apparently, there are a couple of chef/owners so whether or not you like or dislike the food would probably come down to which chef you get. I think the first couple times it was the Japanese chef but on my latest visit it was a South-East Asian chef instead where I couldn’t believe I was eating from the same place!
The image above was my order for White Fish Teriyaki on Rice (Sakana Teriyaki Don). I found the fish to be wonderful in taste, and still very soft and cooked perfectly. The fresh fish flavour comes through well, and the slightly milder teriyaki sauce goes well with the lightly stir vegetables underneath the fish. The amount of fish they serve you seems generous so my impressions of this dish and Meshiya were quite high.
On my latest visit I had the Chicken and Fish Teriyaki and Tempura Bento and this is where all the nice impressions and expectations vanished. Firstly, the chicken was terribly overcooked. I was extremely disappointed, as they cooked the fish beautifully before and I had this sort of impression they took care in how they cooked their food. The sauce used here was different to the teriyaki sauce used in the Fish Teriyaki rice dish, it was much sweeter here, and overall more flavourful. Your usual teriyaki sauce. The fish teriyaki was very bland and also overcooked. Not delicate like before. To top it off, the rice was gluggy and also overcooked so it was all in lumps. This was probably the worst Japanese meal I have ever eaten, even some of the Chinese owned Japanese food court stores serve tastier food than this.
The only reasonable part of this dish was the tempura with their wafer thin batter. One prawn, one sweet potato and one eggplant but all had minimal oil and were crisp and crunchy.
Their ramen from their Happy Hour Lunch Menu was quite pleasant. It was still a bit bland and needed some extra chilli seasoning, but for the reduced price it was a sufficient meal. Nothing special to see here.
As mentioned before, I have a hard time judging this place based on my very conflicting reviews. I would like to think that my last visit was just an off day but then again, I don’t want to give people too high of an expectation of this place thinking that it might actually be okay when my last meal was pretty poor.
The horrible bento box has left such a bad and long lasting impression that I can’t really recommend Meshiya to anyone. I’m not even sure if I would venture there again to see if it is a one off and I’m usually quite lenient when food is just so-so and would give it another go.
All I can do is caution you, and if you are served a tasty and satisfying meal, then that’s all I could ever want.
200 Lonsdale St
Melbourne VIC 3000