211 La Trobe Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9663 1940
I have a pretty low voice for an Asian female, which does not translate to a good singing voice. Thus, I often hear myself telling people that I don’t ‘do’ karaoke. Of course, that’s not to say that I don’t tag along to karaoke nights organised by friends. Sure, I might sit there for the first half hour with my arms crossed and snicker at everyone else sexing the microphone but all it takes is a few glasses of whiskey and someone to put on Guns and Roses and I’m wailing like the rest of them.
Which was exactly what happened two Sundays ago at Partyworld, Melbourne Central.
But before that, we had dinner.
To warm up our vocal chords, we stopped by Japas which was formerly known as Tomodachi, the sushi train restaurant on the Hoyts level of Melbourne Central. Japas is an acronym for Japanese and tapas. It still has the sushi train running and it still serves a la carte meals but it’s ‘cheaper than Tomodachi’ according to my friend Aaron who organised the karaoke night.
In a way, he’s right. When we rocked up, all sushi train plates, regardless of colour, were $3.80 each. There was a decent selection too. From massive bowls of edamame to pairs of grilled eel nigiri, Aaron managed to make a complete meal out of several plates.
Most of us, however, chose to go a la carte.
I had a green tea milkshake to start off with ($5-something). I love the combination of malt and matcha powder so I knew this drink could not fail. It was the perfect accompaniment to my meal…
… the Banzai burger ($14.80), which came with shichimi fries. My burger was surprisingly small but it did manage to fill me up. A soft chargrilled beef patty came basted with a sweet teriyaki glaze and was topped with lettuce, red onion, pickles and ‘our awesome Japanese mustard’ and ketchup. The burger was alright but I wouldn’t say it was worth a thumbs up. The chips, however, were tasty – and certainly could have done without the wasabi mayo which just tasted odd and out of place with the whole thing.
There was also a salad. Called an ‘Asian slaw’, it was pretty much a heap of raw cabbage and capsicums mixed in with dried egg noodles (you know those Trident ones you make chocolate spiders with?) feebly held together by a ponzu dressing. It was bland and remained untouched for most of the evening.
The others also did a la carte. I didn’t get to try any other dishes but I got varying responses from ‘pretty good’ (a fried rice dish) to ‘yeah, it’s o-kaaaaay’ (Marwin, I was not convinced that you liked your $21 chicken bento box). Either way, the a la carte dishes were not cheap compared to the sushi train plates and the quality wasn’t justified by the prices either.
I guess if you were looking for a feed before a karaoke session and felt like Japanese, then Japas would please a non-fussy group but for those looking for a bit more substance, I would suggest going to Grill’d or Nandos.