Kenji Japanese Dining
10/1405-1411 Toorak Road
Camberwell, VIC 3124
03 9889 1084
My temporary housemate, Nha, heard about a Japanese place in Camberwell that’s reputedly both affordable and tasty. So we formed a cosy group of 4 to explore that possibility.
I arrived first and, while the arcade where Kenji resides in was quite deserted, the place itself was packed. I waited at the fluorescent lit takeaway section for my companions (Nha, Damo and Trang) to appear. Service was a little frazzled from the endless influx of diners and takeaway customers.
Edamame $3.50 Red Miso Soup $3.00
Being an 8pm booking, we were all pretty much starving at that point. Once seated, we started ordering quickly and haphazardly… choosing anything that looked appealing and trusting our appetites to finish everything. But for the purpose of giving a sense of ‘flow’ to our meal, I’ll cover them more systematically in this post.
I wasn’t that keen on these two starters… the miso soup came lukewarm and quite salty, while I’d have preferred if the edamame was served hot rather than at room temperature.
Age Dashi Tofu $7.00 | Nasu Dengaku $8.80
These two deep fried offerings were very good though. Especially the agedashi tofu… which came nice and hot with crisp outsides, yet soft tasty inside with good accompanying sauce. The delicious eggplant was also served hot with a nicely balanced sweet miso sauce.
Sushi & Sashimi Set (Gourmet) $35.00
A variety combination of sushi, sashimi and rolls (sushi 7pcs sashimi approx 10 pcs)
The sushi and sashimi sets came at two price points. We opted for the fancier ‘gourmet’ selection. It came with a good variety of items like hamachi (Yellowtail Kingfish), anago (sea eel), prawn and scallop. However, some of it leant towards the fishy (ie. less fresh) side, especially the akami maguro (bluefin tuna – red meat part) and sake toro (salmon belly). I suppose you’re pretty much getting what you’re paying for, $35 is very reasonable for premium items.
Shoyu Ramen with Seaweed $9.00 | Soft-shell Crab Gourmet Roll $10.80
Somewhere along the way, we ordered a bowl of seaweed ramen. You can skip this dish, the whole table found it unacceptably salty.
On the upside, the gourmet sushi rolls at Kenji were very agreeable offerings. In particular this deep fried soft shell crab roll that came with a creamy-spicy mayo and a dusting of sesame seeds. Delicious!
Spicy Tuna Gourmet Roll $8.80 | California Deluxe Gourmet Roll $7.80
The other two rolls we got were also pretty alright. The first roll reminded me of tuna tartare in a spicy Japanese mayo sauce. But with the California roll, I thought they could’ve gone easy with the seasonings in the rice. It overwhelmed the ingredients.
Vegetable Eggplant Curry $8.50
I’ll refrain from being too opinionated with the Japanese curry. It was my first time eating it and I found it goopy and starchy with a bold curry powder taste. That might be how Japanese curry tastes like, and… I actually ended up quite liking it!
Green Tea & Red Bean Ice Cream $3.50/scoop | Maccha Crème Brulee $6.50
We shared a selection of sweets that appealed to us. The ice creams were very nice, but we thought the matcha flavour in the (nice and smooth) brûlée could’ve been stronger. Can anyone guess what’s that red fluffy fruit that’s sitting on top of the brulee?
We definitely ordered quite a lot of dishes here and have feasted on a sizeable portion of the menu. That meal also happened on the last day that Nha stayed with me, so it served as a bit of a farewell dinner too!
While some of the dishes did not quite hit the mark for us, please bear in mind that you’re looking at a more affordably priced Japanese eatery (the bill came up to $32 per person and we were well and truly full). If anything else, the sushi rolls and the deep fried offerings were quite good there. Service was attentive and friendly, and we had quite a pleasant meal.