Initially I wanted to try Shizuku Ramen on Victoria Street, Richmond which is just next door. However, my poor eyesight lead me to Two Hands Bar which interestingly also serves Japanese cuisine. Their menu is a mixture of Western and Asian, also offering a breakfast menu for locals and workers in the area, burgers and also even Korean but in addition as the name suggests it’s a bar as well.
Their lunch menu comes with complimentary soft drink or seaweed soup. One of their menu items is their Teriyaki Chicken with rice. The chicken is tender and marinated nicely, and comes with potato salad and interestingly dressed shredded carrots. The seaweed soup has a lovely seaweed flavour that isn’t too bold, but I found it just a tad oily.
Another lunch item is their Deep Fried Chicken (Karage), the chicken is tender and crispy but requires the combination of mayo to accompany it to bring it all together. Otherwise, it’s particularly dry on its own with rice. As with the Teriyaki Chicken, it comes with the potato salad and carrots. Overall, it’s a decent deal with a drink.
Two Hands Bar doesn’t set the bar high with its food, however,it is quite decent. I haven’t yet tried their burgers, but will definitely try them sometime in the future just to see how they taste like.
Two Hands Bar
311A Victoria Street
Abbotsford VIC 3067
Nishikian is situated in a previously operated petrol station and now it has been converted into a spacious Japanese restaurant. Located in Forest Hill on Springvale Rd, it’s serves authentic Japanese food for Lunch and Dinner. Their menu has a small selection of rice and noodle dishes, but their main attraction for dinner is their tapas menu including fish, sushi and tempura.
There’s a lot to like about Nishikian, their Shoyu Ramen which is a Soy Sauce soup base, is very clean tasting and yet packed of flavour. The Japanese style eggs is a rare occurrence, but here you receive the oozy yolk inside with the hard boiled white. It’s one of life’s greatest food treats, slightly running yolk and hard boiled and pretty much served at any ramen shop in Japan.
Nishikian’s Chicken Teriyaki Don isn’t how I usually find it, here it’s served crispy with a teriyaki marinade and Miso soup. Interesting choice, but I do prefer the grilled style Teriyaki.
If you’re undecided, during lunch hours you can select the Nishiki Lunch Box, where you can choose from a selection of menu items and served with rice. It’s a great way to try a bit of a few different things. Their Potato Croquette is quite tasty, moist inside and nice and crispy. The Takoyaki wasn’t slightly crispy outside as that’s how I like it, but I found a couple of places in Tokyo that served it slightly soft. The beef I found actually was on the dry side, it needed a lot more sauce, and less cooking time as the beef cuts were very thin.
The Beef Udon has a very subtle flavour but again, clean tasting and fresh. Two for two with their noodle dishes.
Nishikian’s Mochi Potato Croquette is similar to the normal Potato Croquette and it’s everything you’d want in a croquette. Delicious, smooth potato inside and a beautiful crunchy coating.
The Ebi Mayo Nigiri is another great dish, fresh and you can never have too much of Togarashi powder on the side.
Lastly, the Tonkotsu Ramen (Pork Bone Broth) is very reminiscent of my travels in Japan. It has the taste of being rich of cream but yet there is none in a Tonkotsu. Delicious.
While there are a couple of authentic Japanese places around these parts of town, Nishikian comes up top in terms of flavour and value. Their noodle dishes have all been winners in my book and I’d go straight back to those on my next visit.
425 Springvale Road
Forest Hill & Vermont VIC
T: 03 9877 4999
I first came across Pepper Lunch when I was on holiday in Singapore. They had one of these stores in a basement food court below a shopping mall. Pretty much what attracted me was the word pepper as I love pepper on nearly everything. Pepper Lunch is originally a Japanese “fast food like” restaurant chain, that is pretty common in South East Asia. Fast Japanese food that comes on a sizzling hot plate? What else could you ask for!
I saw something on the menu that seemed kinda interesting, Japanese Curry with Rice and Hamburger. Obviously, I had to order it and it came out pretty fast as expected. The curry bubbles away as it arrives on my table and looked delicious.
The curry comes with the standard potatoes and carrots, but on top of the rice we have steamed carrots, beans, corn and boiled egg. I quite liked the flavour of the curry, a tad spicy which isn’t something I ordinarily get with a Japanese curry but the hamburger that it comes doesn’t seem to mix all that well with the curry flavour. The hamburger patty is quite nice if it was on a burger bun but here it is from two different worlds. I think diced beef would have worked quite well here.
Pepper Lunch also have a small selection of rice dishes in bowls. We ordered the Salmon Teriyaki with rice. It’s a smaller serve compared with the hot plates but nonetheless tasty. The teriyaki flavour is sweet and different to the teriyaki flavours in other Japanese restaurants , it isn’t something I’ve had many times before but the interesting flavour is quite nice. The salmon is cooked well, not overcooked in the least. A bit of chilli oil on top just makes this dish better.
The Chicken Teriyaki is quite similar to the Salmon dish , with not much else to comment on. The chicken was cooked well and I quite liked the taste of it actually. I find it different to Hanaichi’s Teriyaki dishes but both are great in their own ways.
I wouldn’t say the food here is the most authentic Japanese food I’ve eaten but it’s delicious, great flavours and fast. Can’t go wrong with that in my book.
309-311 Elizabeth St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ramen-Ya has been on the Melbourne food scene since 2007. Their original restaurant is located at GPO, along an alleyway of sorts (of course, it’s Melbourne). Their primary cuisine is Japanese Ramen, but they also offer a selection of bento boxes. To keep you reassured, this is an authentic Japanese eatery, and quite a popular one at that, with another Ramen-Ya located further down on Bourke St.
Oddly enough, I ordered something not particularly authentic but becoming quite popular in Japanese restaurants. I saw many Japanese restaurants in Vancouver that had Korean fusion dishes. The Korean flavour to this ramen dish adds an interesting taste to the dish. It’s a bit sour and a tad spicy and mostly what Kimchi is. You can pick your soup base too, I chose the Miso one just to be a little different. I found it to be intriguing combination but the only downside is that the soup was lukewarm, and by the time you finish it, it’s basically cold! Other than that, it’s a delightful dish that’s mostly vegetarian apart from the charshu but having the soup hot would have made me like it even more.
Ramen-Ya’s Chicken Teriyaki bento is also nicely prepared. The chicken teriyaki has that usual teriyaki flavour, it needs a bit of the Japanese chilli powder just to give it a bit of a kick but the chicken was well cooked and seasoned. Really, what more could you ask for.
I really liked the taste of the Beef Sukiyaki, the beef is nice and soft and the sauce (albeit it’s on the sweet side) is delicious. You can get salad and miso soup, or any dish, for a small sum if you’re eager to round out your meal. The bite sized gyoza had a very substantial flavour to the filling, with that hint of ginger, and freshly cooked is also very pleasing.
Ramen-Ya serves up authentic Japanese cuisine that is certain to delight people’s tastebuds. You can really see why people come back for more but I really do hope the lukewarm soup base for my Ramen was a one time mistake (it was also an extremely warm day) as it can really detract from your dining experience. I never am quite satisfied when eating cold food that is supposed to be warm, it just doesn’t fill you up in the same way.
Shop 25G Melbourne GPO
350 Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000
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