It’s always upsetting when plans fall through. The 11 of us pharmacy kids had planned on having a big lunch at Green Pepper before we go our separate ways for three weeks of placement, but despite having booked a whole week in advance, we showed up at 1pm to an annoying lack of reserved tables. After standing around for a good 15 minutes and watching the tables promised to us given away to those without bookings again and again, we gave up and made our way to Ito Japanese Noodle Cafe instead. Poor form Green Pepper.
It must’ve been destiny, because when we got to Ito, there were no tables available... aside from a recently vacated table in its own little nook, big enough to seat 12 people. We were overjoyed.
The restaurant is a lot bigger than it appeared from the outside, with a long sushi bar lining one side, and the rest filled with plush booths. The menu is fairly extensive as well, covering a broad range of rice, noodles, bento boxes, and sushi. Everyone managed to find something to float their boat, though Sophia was mighty disappointed that the takoyaki, the best she’s had in Melbourne, is only on the dinner menu.
|Katsu Curry ($11.5)|
Nick unfortunately had to leave for work at 2 sharp, so he wanted something quick and simple – Katsu Curry ($11.5) it was. He liked this enough, saying that the sauce was ‘alright’, and the katsu was ‘sort of crunchy’. Keep in mind though that Nick has katsu curry all the time, and that he’s hard to please when it comes to food. From where I sat the dish looked delicious; a fool-proof combination of pork cutlet, rice, and thick curry sauce.
|Teriyaki Chicken Don ($11.5)|
Sneha went for the Teriyaki Chicken Don ($11.5). The chicken, cushioned by salad and rice, was smoky but not as sweet and delicate as I like it. Sneha found the meat to be a little too fatty for her taste, but otherwise enjoyed it. Kathy also ordered the teriyaki chicken, and she mopped it all up, proclaiming ‘delicious!’.
|Bento Box 2 ($15.8)|
Saddened by the lack of takoyaki, Sophia consoled herself with the Bento Box 2 ($15.8), which came with rice, eel, mixed kushi-age, and curry sauce. The kushi-age was definitely the highlight of the dish, the golden crumbs encasing all sorts of goodies, such as a minced beef patty, or a sweet pumpkin crescent. The eel looked a bit thin and sad on the bed of salad, but I was assured that it was tender and flavoursome.
|Suki Udon ($9.8)|
I really, really wanted chirashi. In fact, I had been craving it for the last couple of weeks. But Ito didn’t serve chirashi, so I had to make do with a deep bowl of Suki Udon ($9.8). I liked the noodles, I liked the soup, and I liked the beef, but somehow, I didn’t love the dish. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely tasty, I would probably just never think about it again. Bilge, who had the Suki Soba ($9.8), really liked the soup, but she found the beef to be stringy and tasteless.
|Gyoza ($7.5 for 6)|
A serve of Gyoza ($7.5 for 6) was also ordered to share. I didn’t get to try them, but Sandu, sitting further down the table, assured me that they were really good.
And because it would be horrible of me to make everyone wait whilst I took photos of everything, here’s a shot down the table instead. Between the 11 of us, we ordered a good representative of what was on offer. Generally positive reviews were received all round, with some extra love given to Sarah’s ramen, and Minh-An’s impressively generous vegetarian bento, which elicited a collective ‘WHOA’ when it hit the table. Ito isn’t the first place you would think of to eat at on a night out, but it’s definitely a good backup plan, thanks to its varied menu, accessible prices, and plentiful space.
Rating: 12.5/20 – eat-yo ramen.