I made the bold choice and picked: Chocolate Buddha @ Fed Square. Having read up on this restaurant in the Good Food Guide and from talk of its stylish decor. We agreed to give this place a try.
It's pretty obvious how it got its name from - not something you would connect with to a Japanese restaurant. But upon entering the joint, you are greeted by a row of fat buddha figurines all aligned on the wall just beyond the communal tables. It was a busy night since it was Anzac Day, we could see massive crowds inside and outside the restaurant chowing while being entertained by a Anzac war film broadcasted on the big screen tv right in the middle of the square. We were seated almost straight away and was greeted by a paper menu which doubled as a table mat. Browsing through the menu, we were delighted to see many choices to choose from - noodles, rice, bento, sushi/sashimi and many Japanese appetisers. Over the page, a full drinks menu ranging from wines, to spirits, to imported beers and flavored teas were all available.
My sister Laura ordered the 'healthy' dish - Tofu Ankake(?), which was basically tofu simmered in ginger & soy cooked with chinese cabbage, carrots and mushrooms atop warm Japanese rice.
Beetroot & Mint Sushi
Service was brisk at the start, but it waned down when the waitresses felt they had already catered to your orders. It was difficult to flag for attention, especially when most of the waitresses seemed to be hanging out back in the kitchen than on the floor. I couldn't help but overhear the couple next to us trying to order glasses of water, which the waitress seemed to brush off as if it wasn't her job to offer any in the first place. We received the same treatment when I ordered extra dishes of Salmon sushi, the grilled eggplants and the beetroot sushi. I would've imagined their willingness to serve since I was spending more money. Taste-wise, the food wasn't too bad - my sisters enjoyed their dishes. I felt my miso soup was a bit bland; the grilled eggplant was oily and had a slight 'numbing' taste to it, and the beetroot sushi a bit tasteless. But the seared prawns were definitely my favourite by far, though its price tag was the bigger attraction (3 banana prawns for $15) - sorry i finished the dish before remembering to take a foto of it! *my bad*.
In total, the whole dinner cost us (3 people) $108 including drinks.
But all in all, it was agreeably better than Wagamama though the service is still questionable. I have to add that when I got my change after paying for the meal, I was speaking to the couple sitting next to us, and can u believe it when the waitress took all the change thinking i left her a big tip? (There was about $45 there!) I felt that it was absurb that she had not ask me whether she could take the change, and the couple agreed. Goes to show the sort of attention they would only give to you - your money!
cnr Flinders & Swanston St,
(03) 9654 9488
P.S. Sorry about the bad photos - had to resort to my sister's 2.0 megapixel camera phone.
Tomorrow Night (hopefully): Oyster Little Bourke! Will try to post up a review & pics!