Friday, December 23, 2011

Purple Peanuts Japanese Cafe

620 Collins St
Melbourne, VIC 3000














Energy, this is not what I normally notice when I walk through the doors of most establishments, especially those serving Japanese. As soon as I stepped in to Purple Peanuts Japanese Cafe though I was not struck by the food, but rather the energy of the place. The staff here are all youthful and buzzing with enthusiasm attracting all manner of clientele from students to suits.

After my attention shifted from the eclectic fit out featuring amongst many things a peculiar octopus over the fridge and a Beatles Japanese tour poster it moved to the food and there was a lot to take in. The handwritten menu on the back wall throws up a lot of choice and some unusual items such as Tofu Burgers amongst more traditional fare such as Soba noodles and assorted don dishes.


Purple Peanuts is not scared to serve up sushi made from brown rice and with that I was tempted by the Tuna onigiri to start with. Taking their recommendation to pair this with their chilli sauce, this was definitely a winner. The crusty exterior yielded to a nutty brown rice filling bursting with flavour, specs of tuna, spring onion, Spanish onion and carrot all combine harmoniously.




Moving on to the Gyuzara (aka Gyudon) and Miso, this I thought would be a bit more traditional and while the Gyudon didn't stray too much from convention, the inclusion of chunky vegies in the miso was both novel and welcome. The gyudon was pretty much spot on, thin slices of beef cooked in a sweet soy broth was hard to fault and at a mere $8.90 on it's own or $10.90 with soup is a bargain in the end of town many consider a dining wasteland.

Purple Peanuts is a welcome change from the more predictable Japanese cafes in town and certainly good enough for me to go out of my way to go there again.

Purple Peanuts Japanese Cafe - 4.5/5

Purple Peanuts Japanese Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Eis



188 Bridport St
Albert Park, VIC 3206


In the Albert Park hub of Bridport St & Victoria Ave (or Vic-Ave as the locals call it) sits a number of mediocre, overpriced eateries (Hint, one of them begins with A and ends with lbert Park Deli). So whenever I go there for lunch it always surprises me the Eis is almost always empty.

Why am I surprised? Simple, Eis' food is exceptional and the Bento boxes terrific value. Perhaps it is the stark white interior, or perhaps it is on the wrong side of the road to get the afternoon sun, but for some reason it doesn't seem to attract the locals for lunch. That said, I shouldn't complain since getting a seat and quick service is a bonus.

The Traditional Bento box I ordered is a greatest hits of Japanese cuisine. All the components of the Bento are exceptional, but if I were to single out one item as the star it would be the Katsu Chicken. The Japanese have plugged away with their Fried Chicken with the obsessiveness of a Heston Blumenthal and when they got it right with Katsu chicken they stuck with it.


The Katsu chicken offers great panko crumbed crunchiness with a  moist, tender, juicy filling that shows "The Colonel" is a bit of a lightweight when it comes to fried chicken. This alone is worth the price of admission, but the sashimi and green salad both add to what is one of the best Bento boxes in Melbourne.

Eis also has the coolest ice cubes spheres in Melbourne, a perfect clear sphere the size of a cue ball bobbing away in my Lemon Lime and Bitters is a pretty neat trick.

So despite the lack of crowds, there are certainly other reasons to venture to the roundabout end of Bridport St that isn't Andrew's Hamburgers.

Eis - 4/5
Eis on Urbanspoon