Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Kenzan (Melbourne) 09

Nestled in the middle of a standard Paris end office building is Kenzan; established, unobtrusive and perhaps a venue frequently overlooked by most passers-by as too expensive compared to the food court it shoulders or incompatible for their rushed lunch hour trade or too close to commercial based home to bother a dinner venture. Wrong.

Kenzan has been at 55 Collins for a long time and has grown with the scores of workers, Sofitel guests and random blow-ins that surround it. Whilst still aspiring to be of fine dining status – Kenzan works to appease the lunchtime worker and Kino cinema crowd with a traditional sushi bar style dining area; with morsels cut to order, and also an impressively fast lunch style menu which in my mind can only be the penultimate middle ground of an uncompromisingly tasty meal met with equal office style timing constraints. Though the fast but very gratifying lunch was sampled this visit, previous occasions have found an interesting dinner menu including dishes and delicacies still rare to the Melbourne palette.

Due to the surprise nature of this visit I was not adequately armed so a phone-camera had to suffice, and suffice it failed, dismally.

The mixed tempura main with miso and rice ($18) was second only to the gods of Tempura Hajime with flavoursome and nearly blot paper-free delivery of hot and tasty morsel.
The lunch special (one of several mixed options); bento style delivering ($35) of Shitake mushroom salad, prawn and crab Japanese dumpling (though steamed, unlike gyoza), crumbed prawn and scallop with ponzu sauce, salmon & tuna sashimi and chicken teryiaki and rice was exceptional. Each dish delivered a distinct strong positive too long to juxtapose that will be remembered long after any criticism. Basically it was a bento box you could get anywhere, but done well; Very well. And with excess. I’d pay $38 for it again irrespective of my frequent and slightly more convenient visits to Ishikaya on Bourke St for a $15 lunch special.

We were treated with the bipolar luxury of a private dining room whereby one feels special and dines in relative intimacy with their guests in their false-floored authentic tables to suit fat westerners, but at the price of missing out on the general ambiance of the restaurant; pronounced further when there is just 2 in said private dining room (not complaining at all as it was lovely).
I don’t want to score this out of 20 as it will naturally be disparate with Sandra and Elliot’s evaluations and not a fair basis of comparison, so I will say that to a foodie wanting a great lunch for a decent but not bargain basement price this is a win. If you want to be blown over with nouveau creative inspiration then lunch here is not for you unless you seek the glory of seriously fresh fish. Either way there is good food to be had, you can quibble over the prices and value c.f other venues in the area. But I still like it, a lot.

This review provide by N.M.

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