Don Tojo is pretty much the Don Don’s of Carlton. Quick, fast and easy Japanese food. The menu isn’t very diverse with a few pork, beef and chicken dishes, curry and noodle soups but they excel in what they do.
The Buta Teriyaki Don is basically slow cooked pork on rice with teriyaki seasoning. I liken it to slices of roast pork with the teriyaki flavouring. It’s quite nice, though the pork I find a bit dry and lacking in vegetables or other accompaniments but it’s cheaper than your typical Asian/Japanese food so it makes sense.
Cheap, tasty Japanese food.
164 Cardigan Street
Carlton VIC 3053
Getting in on the Soft Serve ice cream popularity is Tsujiri on Swanston Street in the Melbourne CBD. Tsujiri is a tea brand originating from Japan that excels in all things Matcha/Green Tea. With locations in UK, Canada and Asia, it has now opened in Australia. Tsujiri’s menu offers a wide range of Matcha and Houjicha flavoured drinks, as well as snacks such as cream puffs, swiss rolls and glutinous rice balls.
Tsujiri’s signature sundae you can order mixed (Matcha and Vanilla), Matcha or just Vanilla and it comes with the glutinous rice ball and sweet potato ball on top, Sakura flavoured wafer, red beans and roasted rice. Tsujiri certainly doesn’t skimp on the flavour of the green tea as it’s stronger than you would have at Rice Workshop or Nene’s Chicken. I also loved the subtle floral notes of the wafer, and the roasted rice for a lovely crunchy texture. The only thing I didn’t like was the price where it’s leaning towards $10 and especially for the price.
While Tsujiri excels in green tea, its pricing is on the higher end and I question whether it’s worth it even if it’s good.
146 Swanston Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Taiyaki is one of my favourite Japanese snacks. I remember trying it for the first time in a Japanese mall in the USA and absolutely wowed over the crispy exterior and fluffy dough with custard oozing out. So when I came back to Melbourne, I tried to find a good one here but to no avail as yet. I was so tempted to buy a Taiyaki pan on eBay but the cost of shipping would have set me back quite a bit, however, I was fortunate enough to come across a really light one on this street that sells all these commercial kitchenware in Asakusa, Tokyo. I found this recipe from Just One Cookbook that has a nice Taiyaki recipe which is easy enough to follow, and tastes great too.
Taiyaki (By Namiko Chen from Just One Cookbook)
Makes: 5 Pieces
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Passive Time: 1 hour
150g Cake Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 Egg, Beaten
3 tbsp Caster Sugar
100g Red Bean Paste
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1. In a large bowl, sift the cake flour, baking powder and baking soda.
2. Add the caster sugar to the flour mix whisk to combine.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg. Add the milk and whisk until well combined.
4. Add the egg and milk mixture to the dry mixture and whisk well. Place the batter in the refrigerator for at least an hour to rest.
5. Take the mixture out of the fridge and pour the batter into a measuring jug. The batter should be around 1 1/4 cups.
6. Place the Taiyaki pan over the stove, and heat the pan on low medium heat. Brush the pan with the vegetable oil.
7. Pour the batter into the mold to around 60% full. Make sure the batter covers all around the mold.
8. Roll the red bean paste into a cylindrical shape and place into the centre of the mold. Pour batter on top to cover it. Close the lid and immediately flip.
9. Cook the Taiyaki for around 2 to 2.5 minutes each side. Then flip and cook for another 2 to 2.5 minutes. Open the pan to check if the Taiyaki is golden in colour. Remove the Taiyaki from the mold and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Rice Workshop is still one of my favourite Japanese fast-food places in Melbourne. Luckily, I’m spoilt and there is one in Box Hill so close by for me that I regularly order their Japanese curry or sometimes just a Green Tea or Black Sesame soft serve when I pass by.
It’s similar to Hanaichi in that food definitely comes quick, and it doesn’t necessarily mean it lacks anything in taste. Their Beef Curry even in a small serve can be sufficiently filling, with generous amounts of curry and beef. However, what I find it lacks in is potatoes or some vegetables to make it a more balanced meal. Other than that, I really do love the curry there.
Not on their main menu, they sometimes offer the Unadon or their Fried Eel, which has a lovely aroma to it. Definitely just for fans of eel, which I am not.
Rice Workshop have a few difference variations of their Beef Rice Bowls, along with Chicken Rice Bowls, and the curry you can order it with Chicken or Pork Katsu, Grilled Chicken or even Tofu as a vegetarian option, and of course, some Udon and Soba options as well. I find their selection of dishes to be great and honestly, price wise it’s good value too.
Tasty dishes, fast and good value.
Shop 57 Box Hill Central (South Precinct)
1 Main St
Box Hill VIC 3128
Ramen Bankara has now three outlets with the two cities stores opening up in the last couple of months. However, it was the Doncaster outlet that was first in Australia, located inside the Westfield shopping centre and providing more options for those wanting Japanese cuisine with Hanaichi and Hakata Gensuke preceding it.
I love ramen and even when I was in Japan, I never tired of it. Ramen Bankara has a choice of three different soup bases with your choice of add ons such as eggs, chashu, bamboo shoots and seaweed. Each classic option has a premium version with more add ons.
Their Bankara Ramen has pork broth as its base and it’s absolutely delicious. It has an amazing rich pork flavour, and their pork belly is so tender. One downside, was the amount of fat floating in the broth. I’d love if they sieved a bit of it out but other than that, it’s the one to get.
Chuka Soba Ramen is another pork broth but this has the added option of getting it spicy. It’s a milder broth and a bit more tangy and cleaner for the palate.
Ramen Bankara’s Tonkotsu can also be ordered spicy, and it’s more creamy than the Chuka Soba. It’s made from pork bones that give it that creamy texture. I like the spicy kick more in the Tonkotsu.
There aren’t too many choices for good ramen around these parts of town so Ramen Bankara satisfies those cravings just nicely.
Ramen Bankara – Doncaster
Westfield Doncaster Shopping Centre
Ground Level, 619 Doncaster Road
Doncaster VIC 3108