1025 Burke Rd
Camberwell VIC 3124
+61 3 9882 2349
When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time in Camberwell. As soon as it hit 3:30pm on a Friday afternoon, we’d rush to catch the 75 city-bound tram and embark at Camberwell Junction where we’d sip lattes and fries at Georges, perve on CGS guys and browse the many clothing outlets on Burke Road. Given the amount of time that was spent in Camberwell, you’d think that I’d know the area pretty well. WRONG. Jan and I had only found out about a neat little Japanese grocery store just off Camberwell Junction, Suzuran. As well as boasting an enviable inventory of Japanese confectionery, cooking ingredients, snacks and take-home dishes, it also houses a small sushi bar which locals order made-to-order sushi before waltzing out the door.
With Jo in tow, we made our way to Suzuran on Saturday afternoon. Jan and I were particularly transfixed as we waddled up and down the aisles, picking up random goodies such as a tub of macha powder and slabs of fresh sashimi-grade tuna before sighing and putting them back where we found them. In the end, I did limit myself to a bag of Japanese caramel corn snacks and Jan could not resist a $2.90 tub of seaweed salad.
With literally nowhere to sit and eat our food, we sadly left Suzuran and settled on a park bench in Camberwell market to enjoy our sushi. We all ordered a sushi a la carte box ($14) which contained a variety of chopped sushi rolls, nigirizushi and stuffed inari. I swear, they were some of the freshest sushi I’ve ever had on this side of Melbourne. Everything was just so fresh, so zesty and so tasty. I was delighted to find that my prawn nigiri was fresh and supple, unlike the others I’ve tried elsewhere which have been a little on the dry and stringy side. I was also glad to see Suzuran get the rice-to-filling ratio spot-on too. Deee-licious! I couldn’t decide which bit was my favourite…
Was it the big sushi filled with tamago, avocado, salmon and seafood extender…?
…or the stuffed inari filled with a salmon nori roll?
Jo may have been happy with a single sushi a la carte but Jan and I did not stop there. We both ordered a serving each of hotate (scallop) nigiri (two pieces for $5) which I enjoyed with my tako wasabi (octopus and wasabi) sushi (two pieces for $5.50). I loved the succulent and sweet scallop meat which was topped with briny salmon roe. Meanwhile, the tako wasabi would have been nicer if it was a little less, well, tasty. I know it may sound a bit weird, but I did think that the wasabi and chilli overpowered the fresh octopus meat which was marinated in an already heavy sesame and mirin marinade.
Foreground: Jan’s masago (capelin roe) sushi. I actually thought this was tobiko but the much sweeter roe of the capelin fish was used to make this sushi. It wasn’t bad, but I think I prefer the brinier tobiko.
The fact that I had just blew quite a bit of money on a new Louis Vuitton bag this week meant that I was not able to buy as many groceries from Suzuran… but that was okay. We promised that we’d be back to stock up our pantries as well as to try more of the many wonderful things that came out of that sushi bar.