Thursday, December 16, 2010

Eat.@ Kobe Jones Melbourne

Level 1, 427 Docklands Drive, Waterfront Venues, Docklands 3008 phone : (03) 9329 9173
Tuesday to Sunday, 12- 3pm, 6-10pm

Kobe Jones' Website describes its food as "modern Japanese with a twist", and I guess that's a fairly accurate general description.  The restaurant is located on the first floor which has lift access, and boasts a decent view over the harbour.  (My kids love watching the boats and the "rockets" - you will know what I mean if you ever go there and look out onto the pier)  The restaurant is spacious and we had no problems manoevring the pram around the tables or parking it next to our table.

We chose to have the lunch specials menu as it offered a good selection of food at a more family friendly price. (Available at lunch time only)  An a la Carte menu is available and is of course more expensive, but does give you a larger selection of menu items.  We were in a group of 4 adults and 2 kids plus our pram so we chose to have 4 set menus.  There are 3 set lunch menus priced $25, $29.5 and $34.5.  For each menu you can chose 3 out of the 5 options offered.  The dishes are about entree size and I was sceptical that we'd be full but by the end of the meal we were all quite pleasantly filled and the kids seemed to have enjoyed trying a bit of this and that!

Some of the dishes we tried :

Calamari Fritto
Seafood Poke

Prawn and Vegetable Tempura

Volcano Roll

Beef Tataki - the sauce was very nice!

Sashimi Salad

Lava Roll

Beef Katsu

Shallow Fried Soft Shell Crab

There were also options for various bento boxes priced at $25.  A kids bento box for $15 is advertised in the website but when we asked about it we were told they don't have a kids menu.  Hopefully they can either amend their menu or their website as I often use the presence of a kids' menu to assess the suitability of a restaurant for outings with kids and certainly felt a bit cheated when I was told otherwise.  Fortunately a lot of their menu options were kid-friendly!

The staff were friendly and were quite happy to provide cutlery and small plates for the kids.  On the 2 occasions we've dined there it had been during the week and there were no more than 2-3 other tables occupied and the patrons didn't seem to have minded the kids being noisy occasionally, but they were mainly business lunchers and we were certainly the only family there at those times. 

Eat.Play.Shop. Recommends : Calamari Fritto, Volcano Rolls and Beef Tataki were great
Give it a Miss : Beef Katsu were a bit too over done and tough

Kobe Jones on Urbanspoon

Highchairs - Yes
Toilets - clean and accessible, although we cheated and used the disabled one for the room as they were not busy

Monday, December 6, 2010

Eat. @ Kenzan@GPO

Shop 28G, 350 Bourke St, Melbourne 3000 VIC Phone: (03) 9663 7767
Mon-Sun 11am-5pm, Thu-Fri 5-9.30pm

I think it's appropriate that my first blog post is about Kenzan@GPO.  It is one of my absolute favourite places to have lunch.  Nice Japanese food is not THAT difficult to get in Melbourne, but a Japanese restaurant, run by Japanese people, which has easy enough access when you have kids and prams to juggle is not exactly found in every suburb. 

Kenzan@GPO is the more casual sidekick to its parent Kenzan in Flinders Lane.  It mainly caters to the work lunch crowd, and if you get there at peak business lunch hour it might be difficult to comfortably sit your little ones at a table.  We've found that on weekends and just before or after the lunch rush is the best time for us family folks. 

There are 3 main categories of food :
Sushi Rolls and Onigiri - I see these as their specialty!  These aren't your everyday "Sushi Sushi" type of rolls.  The rice is cooked fresh and well and never a gluggy cold mess.  The fillings are interesting including favourites like salmon skin and teriyaki salmon, but there are also the less run of the mill lobster salad and teriyaki beef (my favourite is the spicy raw tuna).  And most important of all the nori is packaged separately so you have to roll the rice in the nori yourself just prior to taking a bite, but this guarantees a crispy and tasty nori sheet around the roll instead of a soggy mess that sticks to the roof of your mouth.  I'm not knocking Sushi Sushi since I eat heaps of their rolls for the sheer convenience and accessability, but the ones at Kenzan is how sushi rolls on the go should taste!  Other notable rolls are their Dragon Rolls (inside out rolls with spicy tuna filling wrapped with unagi and avacado) and Spider Rolls (inside out rolls with soft shell crab filling and either roe or sesame and seaweed on the outside) 

Hot steaming bowls of Soba/Udon/Ramen and Boxes of "Don" (Rice served with cooked meats and vegetables on top) - The Noodles are not THE best you'll ever have, but they are of a high and consistent standard, and is always a winner with the kids.  Our favourite is the Tori Udon at $13.  The rice boxes are nice but having tried the Unadon and the Sukiyaki Don I find them a bit too salty for my liking.

Traditional Japanese fare like a Bento Box, Sashimi and Nigiri Plate, and some seasonal specialties like cold noodles for summer. Their salmon nigiri and roll pack are delicious but if you're starving then $15 for the box might not hit the spot.

There is also a wide variety of Japanese bottled drinks and the usual range of soft drinks and bottled juices to chose from.  And of course there's hot cups of green tea but you will have to drink that with some caution if you have young kids.  A few of their tables also have an interesting styling which results in a square hole in the middle of the table where my kids like to drop cutlery etc through, accompanied by hysterical laughter.

The staff are generally friendly and quite happy to bring us spare cutlery and plastic bowls for the kids to eat noodles from.  We've also found the late lunch office crowd to be quite tolerant of kids and have seen a few other families with prams eating there.

All in all this is a favourite Japanese eatery of ours and I highly recommend it if you feel like nice noodles and sushi rolls but can't really manouevre your kids/pram into a "proper" Japanese restaurant!

Eat. Play. Shop. Recommends : Rolls Rolls Rolls!
Give it a Miss : Sukiyaki Don

Kenzan @ GPO on Urbanspoon

Highchairs - No
Toilets - Available in basement of GPO, lifts down from inside GPO