Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Best value bento

Shuji Sushi Japanese Cafe at the top end of Bourke Street just down from Spring Street offers good food at excellent value for money.

A popular haunt for public servants and professionals from the Paris end of town, it's a good place to go if you don't have a corporate card.

The product
While we wait for our dishes to arrive we are served some wasabi peas and peanut balls to fill the time.

The signature of Shuji Sushi are their bento boxes. At $9.90 per box they offer a variety of good quality typical Japnese treats. Bento box b offers rice, crumbed pork cutlet, tempura capsicum, tempura egglant, tempura chicken, two california rolls and two pieces of sushi. For me, the best part of this bento is the pieces of tempura chicken - a non fatty piece of thigh chicken fillet coated in crisp tempura batter then drizzled with teriyaki sauce.

The menu which doubles as a placemat offers four bento boxes and and approximately 24 other dishes. The usual suspects: teriyaki don (chicken with katsu sauce on rice), curry katsu don (pork schnitzel with japanese curry on rice) and yasei udon (assorted vegetables and tofu in Udon noodle soup). Every dish on the menu is under ten dollars.

One of my dining companions, a vegetarian, ordered the Yasei Udon (pictured to the left) and found the floating boiled egg a little off putting but the quality of the soup and other ingredients to be very tasty. The broth had a miso flavour.

The atmosphere
This place is always busy. People line up outside the door to purchase takeaway sushi and the dining tables are pretty much taken by 12:00pm. Reservations can be made. It is recommended that you either book a table or show up five minutes before midday.

The service
The service is minimalist and all of the staff are Japanese. Staff are friendly but extremely busy so once your order is made the only other time you see them is when they deliver your meal.

There could be some problems with language barriers when ordering wine. One example: Me: "Is the house white a chardonnay or a sauvignon blanc." Waitress: "Yes." As anti-chardonnay drinkers we were told told that the house white was "definitely not chardonnay". We believed them, but I think what we were given was a cask variety.

The verdict
Highly recommended for those looking to get some good food and save a few dollars at the same time.


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