What’s the one cuisine you can never resist? For me, it’s Japanese. The nourishing and healthy, yet flavoursome dishes make it a good candidate for almost any circumstance, be it when you’re trying to be healthy, wanting something with punchy flavours, or just in need of some comfort food in the form of a curry don. So it was lucky that Chris chose Samurai for dinner last Friday, because I was having a pretty fussy week when it came to food. Believe it or not, that happens to foodies too!
Samurai is a teeny small Japanese restaurant located two stone throws away from Swinburne University. It does a roaring trade at both lunch and dinnertimes; whatever space there is that isn’t occupied by rickety chairs and tables are full of patrons waiting for their take-away meal.
The most popular order at night is without a doubt, the dinner special. For just $16, you can get your choice of soup, entree, main and dessert. But in the interest of our waistlines and common sense, we decided just to order a few dishes to share. That was a bit difficult, considering that I had fallen in love with the menu at first sight. There was nothing I haven’t seen before, but I loved how they served a good variety of comfort food, sushi and sashimi at a reasonable price, and a large selection of entrees consisting of almost every Japanese snack you could possibly want. Ignoring the lack of ramen, the menu at Samurai ticked every single box. Extra thumbs up for serving toasted rice tea free of charge!
Takoyaki ($4 for 5)
Takoyaki ($4 for 5)
We started our meal with an order of piping hot Takoyaki ($4 for 5). Generously slathered in kewpie mayo (yummo!) and BBQ sauce, these were creamy and soft on the inside, and studded with chewy chunks of octopus. Fair warning though, they’re also extremely hot once you bite through the crispy exterior, and I ended up burning half the skin off the roof of my mouth. Ouch.
Salmon Avocado Sushi ($7 for 10 pieces)
Eager to see how their sushi stacked up, I ordered a serve of Salmon and Avocado Sushi ($7 for 10 pieces), which were served with pickled ginger, and daubs of wasabi in little dishes. You can’t really go wrong with creamy avocado and tender pieces of fish, though I would personally prefer the rice to be vinegared a little more heavily. On a side note, I’ve finally started appreciating wasabi with my sushi (though I don’t have it with sashimi; I think it overwhelms the fish), but I got a little too carried away this time, and ended up with wasabi all over my takoyaki-burn. My poor mouth really isn’t having much luck today.
Chicken Katsu Curry ($8.8)
And of course, the omnipresent Chicken Katsu Curry ($8.8). The katsu has lost its crunch from being submerged in the gravy, but it’s tender, and the portion is generous. I was quite impressed by the gravy; it’s usually watered down, or doesn’t have enough depth of flavour, but this one managed to avoid both pitfalls. The hearty chunks of carrot and potato were a bonus.
I walked out of Samurai with a very happy tummy, a really miserable mouth, and an unexpected lesson learnt. For the last 2 years, I’ve always done thorough research on places that I plan on eating at; reading all the reviews, looking at all the photos. And sometimes, it feels as if I’m not so much forming my own opinions as I am taking everyone else’s opinions for my own. There are times where I miss out on things I really want to try because something else is a ‘must order’, and other times where I’ve convinced myself that I love a restaurant simply because everyone else does too, even though deep down I wasn’t all that impressed. I’m not saying that going in prepared is a bad thing; it’s probably saved me from many horrible meals, and pointed me to many more excellent ones. But at the same time, it pays to remember that my blog is a way for me to share my own thoughts and opinions, not everyone else’s. Reading through the reviews for Samurai afterwards, I noticed that not everyone loved it. But I really enjoyed my experience there, and that’s what matters.