Tuesday afternoon found Adam and I in the city, hoping to use our day off work and uni to… well, study. Snore. We both had a flurry of assignments to do but like dedicated foodies we are, we would never miss a chance to spend a free weekday afternoon in the city having lunch at a place we’d never been to before. Enter Kuni’s, a quiet yet established Japanese restaurant that has been around since 1978. And although their menu has not changed much in thirty years, it is clear that their strategy to retain the same ol’ stuff works if the tables full of suits is anything to go by.
The decor might still be stuck in the 80s but none of that matters as the friendly waitress, who was able to squeeze us both in at the last minute, lead us to a table and shows us a lunch menu which consisted predominantly of bento box specials ranging from $18 to $27. We decided to go all out and order a ‘Kuni’s Lunch Set’ at $27 which was still a very reasonable price to pay in my opinion.
To start off with: just your every day miso soup and a sesame spinach salad which tasted a LOT like gado-gado.
A very delicate and silky chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) with slivers of shiitake mushrooms.
The main event (clockwise from left):
-A mirin and soy sauce + steamed rice on the left.
-An assortment of tempura – very delicate and crunchy, not overly soggy. One of the better ones I’ve had but nowhere near as good as Tempura Hajime’s.
-Sashimi (tuna, kingfish and salmon) – surprisingly disappointing. The fish was obviously not fresh (left in the fridge all Easter weekend, perhaps?) and the salmon imparted a funky smell. Ugh.
-Chicken and vegetable nimono – the first time I’ve had this stewed dish. I really loved the slightly sweet stewed soy, mirin and sake sauce … and strangely enough, it tasted vaguely like Original Recipe KFC skin (yeah, what the?!).
-Prawn and scallop dumpling – one big fist was covered in an interesting textured skin consisting of shredded wanton wrappings. A very interesting approach – and tasted not bad too!
Like the Western Bulldogs’ playing style, Kuni’s are happy to stick to what they know best rather than experiment with different styles. Yet, most of it (apart from the sashimi) was done well and I can see why this place is still a significant feature in Melbourne’s Japanese dining scene. The warm and efficient service was also a plus too, and made me more likely to come back here for a quick lunch if I happened to be on the top end of Little Bourke during the week. Having said that, I probably won’t be back for dinner particularly if the food is going to be the same as what they had on the lunch menu. But to go back for lunch and go through all the other bento boxes down the list? Oh, yes.