We walked passed Asakusa on the way to MSY a few weeks ago and since then, we’ve been for dinner twice. I can’t believe I’ve never noticed this restaurant earlier despite it being on the Age Cheap Eats every year since 2006.
It is located near the corner of busy Waverley Rd and Burke Rd in Malvern East. If you’re in the vicinity and feel like trying this little gem out, be prepared to spend a bit of time finding parking – there are very few on the streets just outside.
There were available seats during both visits without making a booking, however we did arrive at around 8:30pm each time. Even at that hour, service was a bit slow. This is to be expected though since it’s a family run business and most of the cooking relies on the owner and chef Steven Yu. Although not Japanese, Mr. Yu’s dishes and sushi/sashimi selection are nothing short of authentic Japanese cuisine.
The menu is quite extensive and even during our second visit, we spent nearly 20 minutes deciding what to order. There were just too many dishes I wanted to try!
We started our first visit with Salmon Skin Rolls (crispy salmon skin with avocado, salmon and mayo wrapped in cucumber). It was small but a total eye opener which created a big enough appetite for Y and I that we ate 4 entrees and 2 noodle dishes in one sitting. Talk about gluttony. I couldn’t even walk out afterwards without breathing very very slowly.
Next was Gyu Tataki served the traditional way with ponzu sauce. It tasted very fresh and acidic and almost melted in my mouth, so delicious. This is something I order nearly every time I go to a Japanese restaurant. Good beef in my opinion is best enjoyed raw or nearly raw.
Our noodles came shortly after – Y ordered his usual Chashu Ramen which had an average miso based soup with perfectly cooked egg and chashu. However, it was missing bamboo shoots and wasn’t a very big dish. I ordered the Nabeyaki Udon which I thought was not salty enough. I had to add a lot of Shichimi (Japanese spice made of chilli, sesame seeds, nori and other ingredients) to add flavour to it. In my opinion, stick to the main dishes and sushi rather than their noodles.
Since the menu was so enticing, Y decided to order two more entrees while he was waiting for me to finish my udon – Spicy Tuna Rolls and Gyutan Shioyaki. The Spicy Tuna Rolls were totally delicious, just the right amount of spiciness and the Japanese mayo added a wonderful creaminess to it as well. We liked it so much that we ordered both the Spicy Tuna and Spicy Salmon Rolls on our second visit (second visit was with 4 people so we were allowed to be gluttonous ). The salmon rolls tasted quite similar to the tuna rolls however so I recommend only ordering one of them and other entrees for a bit of variety.
Gyutan Shioyaki was also very delicious. A bit crispy and nicely salted, it was the perfect end to our evening. I would have liked to have some dessert such as a green tea ice cream but in no way was I able to fit anymore food into my already bloated stomach.
Our second visit proved to be another fantastic experience. We decided to order a few different dishes (apart from the above-mentioned sushi rolls). The Whiting Tempura was a bit bland, even after dipping in the tempura sauce – I probably wouldn’t order this again, although I guess fish tempuras are always a bit on the bland side.
The Unagi Rolls were lovely with a generous amount of extra sauce poured on top to give it more flavour while the shiitake mushrooms and cucumber inside neutralised the intensity of the rich sauce.
The three mains we ordered were all quite good as expected, although they did taste a bit similar due to their hotplate cooking style. Out of the three, the Buta Shogayaki (pork) was my favourite, followed by the Yakiniku (beef) and then Kaisen Teppanyaki (seafood). I guess this proves I’m quite the meat eater. We managed to clean the plates at the conclusion of the meal, even the lukewarm oranges on top. I was pleasantly surprised by the tastiness of those slightly salty and warm oranges that I volunteered to eat more than my share.
Even though the service was a bit slow, the wonderful dishes we tasted at Asakusa and the friendly chef and waitresses were definitely enough to warrant repeat visits. I recommend this restaurant to anyone wanting to try authentic and delicious Japanese cuisine without having to break their wallets.
Phone: (03) 9569 2051
127 Waverley Rd, East Malvern