138 Russell St
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9654 7358
Shirley loves chawanmushi. I love Japanese food. We were both hungry after work one evening. There was a Japanese restaurant on Russell Street that we’ve yet to try, Edoya. They had Japanese food and they had chawanmushi – WE TRY WE TRY!
Lured by the scarily-realistic-looking plastic bowls of ramen and sushi collecting dust by the window, a warm dining room and promises of warm cups of chawanmushi, Shirley and I walked into the simple but cozy carpeted restaurant. I had gone past this joint many a time en-route Taco Bill (shut up) but never perked up the curiosity to give it a go. Until now. It was still pretty early in the evening so we were given full attention by the warm and ever-smiling waitresses who attended to us, served us water and served our food as quick as a Japanese bullet train.
We were given complimentary edamame beans and a tumbleweed of daikon salad with a tangy ponzu and soy dressing to begin with. There was nothing remarkable about the salad; and there normally isn’t anything remarkable about edamame (well, in my opinion anyway) so let’s move on, shall we?
The pair of unagi sushi ($3.20 each) looked pretty enough, but didn’t really do it for us. The eel meat was too limp, and the skin too soggy and too sweet. No thanks.
Takoyaki ($9.30). This was all sorts of wrong. Firstly, why charge $9.30 for six little pieces? Secondly, why the bed of lettuce? Thirdly, why go stingy on the octopus and the sauce? They were crunchy on the outside though, I’ll give them that.
My oyakodon ($14). I was going through a chicken and egg phase at the time (no doubt my Tom Venuto-worshipping workmate, Sean, had something to do with it) so choosing this braised chicken and egg dish seemed like an apt choice, never mind the fact that there was also a mountain of rice for me to eat too. Although $14 is more than what any reasonable person would pay for a bowl of oyakodon, I still wasn’t expecting much. Thus, I was disappointed to find that it wasn’t even half as good as say, a $10 bowl of oyakodon from any one of those dime-a-dozen Chinese-run Japanese places in the city. The sukiyaki sauce just seemed too sweet and lacked any real depth, and they were tight with the egg. They were generous on the onions though, but pfft, like anyone really cares about onions.
Shirley’s bento box (yeah, she was mad hungry that night). I can’t remember how much it was but I vaguely recall it being more expensive than a standard bento box. In any case, it wasn’t worth it. The tempura prawn was mediocre at best, ditto the beef sukiyaki. Our friend daikon salad made an appearance, this time on top of a garden salad while cheap cuts of salmon, kingfish and tuna sashimi meddled their way into the box on top of limp lettuce leaves. And to finish off, a meagre fruit salad starring the last crop of summer fruits sat in the very far corner of the box. Not the best bento box.
For some reason, Shirley’s chawanmushi ($8.50) arrived last – bizarre, seeing as it’s supposed to be an appetiser. While I was impressed by its size – we got a Chinese rice bowl-sized serving whereas most places serve this savoury egg custard dish in a small cup – the taste didn’t really set our hearts on fire. Props for being generous with the fillings – edamame, prawns, shiitake mushrooms and squid all made multiple appearances – but the egg custard itself was too bland. And so Shirley’s search for awesome chawanmushi in Melbourne continues… *sigh*
Given the lacklustre food, it’s no wonder why Edoya remains hidden from view of CBD workers and players, and hidden from many, many food blogs and publications. The food is a tad more expensive than a lot of Japanese places in the city, yet the quality isn’t even on par with them. We’re not going back.