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
Ajisen Ramen is a popular Japanese franchise that offers an array of Japanese dishes. Of course, going by the name, its main attraction is the Ramen. Ajisen Ramen’s first Melbourne restaurant was on Bourke St, Melbourne. It has been there for many years, I think ever since I was in high school. I remember my friend ordering an Aussie Ramen, it was one of the strangest fusion dishes I’d ever seen. I believe it had fried egg, beetroot and other “typical” Australian ingredients like you’d find in a burger. I don’t think it’s on their menu anymore, probably an indication of its extreme popularity. Ajisen Ramen is a more recent entry to Glen Waverley, after the seemingly empty Korean restaurant before it closed down, and most weekends during lunchtime, even in the late arvo, you’ll find this place full.
I ordered the Tonkatsu Ramen, as seen in the opening image. What we have here is Deep-Fried Pork, egg and an assortment of vegetables. I quite liked it, you kinda to either eat the pork quickly or take it out of the bowl in order for the pork to retain its crunchiness that you would typically find in a Tonkatsu Rice dish. If you leave it in too long, it kinda gets too soggy but the flavour is still there so if you don’t mind it then it really isn’t a con.
The soup is mild, but definitely has some flavour. I quite like it and even though the bowl appears a tad small, it is filling.
This is the Spicy Ramen, with “Spicy Meat” which is not pictured. It’s servered separately on a plate. This is slightly different to the Tonkatsu Ramen as the soup base is spicy. It actually has quite a good hit, and it’s served with cabbage instead. Overall, it’s pleasant and the amount of heat is surprising for a Japanese restaurant.
If you order a Sumo Combo, ($5.50 extra) it comes with your pick of Junior Donburi and Green Tea. Well worth it if you’re particularly famished. Here we have the Junior Unadon, which is Grilled Eel with Sauce on Rice. I’m not a big fan of eel, but the sauce makes all the difference here. Nice balance of sweet and salty.
Here we have the Junior Teriyaki Salmon Don. I find the Junior serves if you don’t order the Sumo to be extremely poor value for money. It really is just a few mouthfuls, and for only a couple of dollars more you get a much larger serving. I also found the Teriyaki sauce here to be lacking, its mainly because the sauce is almost non existant! The Salmon was nicely cooked though, still pink inside so not overcooked. So overall the dish is a bit bland.
I ordered the Katsu Curry, with Deep Fried Bread Crumbed Pork with Japanese Curry on Rice. I love Japanese Curry, it’s so different to the Malaysian-style curries that most people have come to love but it for me, it holds its own.
I find Ajisen Servings to be slightly smaller than most other Japanese restaurants, even the Japanese Cafe in Chinatown is gigantic compared to here but nonetheless it’s still filling. I just find that it’s generally more expensive but smaller portions. What I love about Ajisen’s offering is that it’s actually spicy! Not just a hint of spice but a good punch. So different to the standard curries I’ve ordered around town as they are usually much sweeter.
The Pork goes really nicely with the curry, and although the curry can make the battered layer of pork soft, it isn’t too bad. Compared to the Tonkatsu Ramen, it goes soft slower so it’s not too bad. With this you get your standard diced carrot and potato. In this case, they pre-fry the potatoes giving it a slightly potato fry kind of flavour to it. It’s a subtle but nice way to bring another element to the dish.
Overall, you can see why Ajisen Ramen is extremely popular day in day out. I’d say service is surprisingly decent too, they have these little PDAs to take your orders and the food comes quickly enough. I’d probably bet they just want you out of there as quickly as possible but it works well. As I’ve cautioned before, if you’re used to the large servings in the many other Asian restaurants in Glen Waverley, don’t expect them here. It’s slightly smaller and more expensive. However the major plus is that the food is pretty darn good. So if see empty seats in this popular eatery, grab it and enjoy!
Glen Waverley VIC 3150
(03) 9560 9018
I’ve always walked passed Dae Jang Geum in Chinatown but never had the temptation to go in. I couldn’t really gauge the popularity either because it has stairs going up. One day we suddenly though why not, I’ve always liked Korean cuisine. I’ve dined in a couple around the city (mostly Korean BBQ) but I’m not sure why I don’t jump at the chance to try another place.
Dae Jang Geum when you finally walk up all the steps is surprisingly large. I was taken aback at how many tables they had, and a large kitchen. So I’m presuming they must get a lot of customers during the night. Their Lunch menu is has quite good variety of Korean food, from Teriyaki Chicken, Bulgogi, Soup, rice and noodle dishes.
My first picture is the Bulgogi Set Menu that I ordered, and I quite enjoyed it. It is again, surprisingly filling. The rice that they give you is in these seemingly small stainless steel bowls but actually they had packed all the rice in tightly. The beef was nicely flavoured and cooked well. The chinese cabbage and capsicum made the dish overall enjoyable.
The Chicken Teryaky with vegetables is definitely not like the usual Japanese Teriyaki you’ll find. This was more akin to a Sweet and Sour Chicken dish, without much of the sour. So it was slightly disappointing, but still decent enough if you like a sweet sauced dish to go with your rice.
Dae Jang Geum also provides an assortment of sides, with the usual kimchi, fresh salad and a sweetened sliced cold potato dish (pictured at the back).
Might I add I also had a chance to try a bit of the Spicy Beef Soup and that had a fantastic punch to it. It felt so homely, having soup and rice. Homely, certainly isn’t a bad thing. Not at all.
Dae Jang Geum’s lunch experience is mostly positive. The staff are quite friendly and efficient, and the food arrives quickly (Maybe we ate before peak hour but nonetheless is was good). Although their restaurant lacks much natural lighting, it is still a welcoming atmosphere. Would I come here again? Yes definitely, there are plenty of other dishes to try for lunch and we haven’t even attempted to try their Korean BBQ.
Dae Jang Geum
235 Little Bourke St
03 9662 9445