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

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