135 Commercial Rd
Taking advantage of the hot weather on Good Friday, we decided that a nice dose of refreshing, cold japanese was what we needed. Our lovely dinner plans were foiled however by the inclemency of Melbourne weather and by the time we got ourselves organised and made our way to south yarra, it had started to pour with rain.
Unfortunately no one had bothered to adjust the air conditioning inside so we were greeted with icy galacial blasts as we ran into the restaurant fresh from our drenching. Sigh.
Nevertheless! We pressed on, huddled in a mishmash of jumpers and cardigans and generally being an embarrassing contrast to the ambient decor – sleek dark wooden tables, nice modern light fixtures and soft billowing curtains…
Now Gaijin markets itself as serving ‘fusion japanese’ cuisine, which I believe means that they’ve just westernized a whole lot of traditional japanese dishes – and from looking at their menu, mostly by adding cream cheese. So maybe it’s not the most delicate and innovative of ‘fusion’ cuisines around, but they do have some interesting flavours and textures (tempura crunch seems to be a big feature in their special sushi rolls). And the seafood is undeniably fresh, so a thumbs up there.
We started with a starter of Gaijin Special Salmon Salad ($9). Plump fatty salmon slices with a creamy dressing – not sure what it’s called, but its the one that has the hint of sesame? Whatever it is, addictive. Not much of a ‘salad’ though, more like salmon on a few slices of cucumber.
Spider vs Dragon Roll ($13): tempura crunch, soft shell crab, mayo, cream cheese and unagi slices. I’m pretty sure this is what I was thinking when I made the order: heaps of tasty ingredients together = awesome end product! Hmmm… not quite. Tasty, sure, but the individual components didn’t really come together and the cream cheese was just a bit odd. Dunno, probably just not my thing.
Crunchy Spicy Salmon Roll ($13). Tempura crunch, raw spicy salmon, gaijin sauce. Well we actually ordered crunchy spicy scallop, but at the time of photography I hadn’t yet realised the mistaken order. But for all intensive purposes they pretty much looked the same, variations on a theme. This one was really good, I’m a big fan of spicy and found this combination gave the sushi a bit of kick and bite.
The chicken udon ($18). This was the dish to help warm us up after all the cold platters and did its work nicely. Thick, soft udon in a delicious umami broth with generous portions of well marinated chicken on top. Yums.
Overall I thought it was quite a tasty meal, and not too expensive either. Good for a bit of fun and something different to your average Japanese food.