Freelancer, loves finding new places, especially watering holes. Follow me on Twitter @PaddyKoan
Published May 16th 2012
I love Japanese food. Show me a plate of gyoza, some sushi rolls and a big bowl of tori don and I'm set. There are plenty of places to have Japanese, some dirt cheap but lack in quality. Some are super high end, get a little too fancy and charge like a wounded bull.
Then there is Samurai.
Located at 804 Glenferrie Road in Hawthorn, surrounded by many a shopping outlet and other restaurants, Samurai looks right at home from the outside. Once you step inside however, this all changes, for the better, might I add. Samurai's premises seems to be an old house, refurnished to handle the rigours of being a restaurant.
When being shown to your table you will make your way past glass displays of Samurai striking poses and hanging from the walls are Japanese water colour pictures. It's hard to ignore, though, the fact that this establishment quite clearly still looks like a house. When directed to your table, should it be located on the second level, you immediately get the impression you're in what used to be someone's bedroom. The Hawthorn Football Club paraphernalia, which is a staple of a Hawthorn based businesses (see Sofia's), doesn't quite help.
But the last thing you're going to be coming to Samurai for is the physical building itself. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of atmosphere. Hardly ever empty, there is always a buzz about the staff and patrons, almost always about the quality and serving size of the food.
Samurai offer a great selection of entrees, mains, desserts, soups and of course sushi. Prices range from $4.20 for edamame (Green soy beans served in their pods) as an entrée to $26.25 for a Samurai Dinner Box DX (an extravagant all inclusive dinner box that's sure to leave you with little room for any other meals that week). Most main dishes hover around the $12 mark. For a good feed, $15 will get you their basic Dinner Box, which allows you to pick any soup on the menu, any main dish, and either a drink or a dessert. A cheap and satisfying feed.
While I didn't opt for the Dinner Box on my visit, my total meal cost for a serve of California Rolls, Chicken Katsudon and a can of coke cost me $15.80. The California rolls were fresh and full of flavour, served with slices of ginger they were presented well and tasted great. The Chicken Katsudon (slices of chicken crumbed and served with a fried egg and sauce with a serve of rice) had great flavour and was an enormous serve for the price tag.
Before heading to Samurai I was advised, by a friend of a friend of a friend, that I must try the Green Tea milkshake. While I didn't order one myself, a friend did and we passed it around our table for everyone to try. The milkshake was very thick and creamy and the richness combined with the Green Tea flavour was amazing.
You may be tempted to choose another destination, should you not have eaten here before. Whilst I thought the decor added a certain charm to the restaurant, others may not agree. But I urge you to disregard your surroundings. Once you have your dish in front of you, you'll be far more concerned with how you're going to finish your meal and find the strength to fit in a Green Tea milkshake that one guy on WeekedNotes said was so good. And it won't hit the hip pocket too hard either. Say Kon'nichiwa to Samurai Japanese Restaurant. Your stomach will be saying domo arigato for some time to come.