A few weeks back I was lucky enough to have been invited by Annie, co-owner of Taketori Japanese Fusion to dine at their newly established restaurant on busy King St. Whenever I hear ‘fusion’ I don’t know what to expect. It turns out that Taketori serves up fancy bistro style modern Japanese dishes, a little different to other fusion restaurants I’ve been to.
Mr Chan, Annie and their families opened this restaurant together a few weeks before I visited and at the time, they were still trying to find their feet somewhat. I was told the look of dishes were still subject to change and the liquor section of the shop hasn’t been set up yet. Even the sign outside belonged to the old occupants of the premise.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by the decor of the place. It was casual without doubt, but still had a touch of elegance and homely feel. Mr Chan told me the paintings on the walls as well as the lanterns had been hand painted by his wife who was an architect. He himself was a lawyer from China and so they didn’t have much experience in hospitality at all.
Most of the menu development had been left to their head chef who worked in 5 star hotels and had good knowledge of various international cuisines. This knowledge I presume and his experience in hotel/bistro type food led to the fusion we see here.
The dishes are plated like that of bistro style food and on the most part are quiet pleasant to the eye. He gives priority to colours and garnishes.
We were told to order whatever we liked from the menu which threw me off a little. Where do I begin? So I asked for the chef’s recommendations.
We were first served Japanese green tea in a cute pot.
Dining on a Monday night was a good idea as the dishes flew out of the kitchen with lightning speed.
The first dish to make it to the table was the mixed tempura set (tempura moriawase – $18.90). It was served with a dipping sauce which we thought was a little salty but nevertheless this was our favourite dish of the night. The tempura batter was perfectly crispy and light. I loved the fried noodles that’s also the centrepiece of the dish. Doesn’t it look so pretty? I was munching on it in between all the other dishes.
Next up was the shake teriyaki – grilled salmon with chef’s special teriyaki sauce ($20.90). We thought the salmon was a bit overcooked and spoke to Mr Chan about this and he said that this particular salmon is imported from Europe and may not have been the best batch they’ve had. I wasn’t quite sure if it was pre-cooked or not. We also thought the salad on the side was a little excessive which over shadowed the salmon somewhat. It was however, well seasoned.
The next dish was the volcano maki (sushi with crispy prawns with crab stick, sesame seed, spring onion and crispy tempura batter on top – $13.90). I was quite surprised at the sheer size of the dish! The maki was already seasoned enough to not need soy sauce. It was quite tasty eaten together with the tempura batter but because it’s fried and quite oily, it was a bit hard to eat too much of the topping. I still enjoyed this dish though.
Next up was the Sakura set (18 pieces of nigiri and maki sushi – $28.50). I had wanted a mixed sushi and sashimi platter but they didn’t seem to have this and I mistakenly ordered this set on the recommendation of the chef. It was a bit too much for us to eat.
All the sushi and sashimi are prepared by a sushi chef at their sushi bar but I had a look at the bar and didn’t see all that many varieties of fish. We both didn’t think the sushi was the most fantastic we’ve had. Some of the maki weren’t rolled properly and doesn’t seem all that value for money either. At $28.50 it’s not cheap for what we got.
The final dish was the chicken yakitori ($13.90). It was plated like a proper bistro style dish and with the capsicums on the skewers (not traditionally there) I can definitely see the fusion of this dish. The sauce also wasn’t the traditional thick teriyaki style sauce, although it was still well marinated and tasty.
There are still a lot of room for improvement at Taketori. However from the owner’s dedication, it should have good potential especially for that locale. Most of its prices are reasonable (apart from that sushi platter I thought) and it’s definitely more upscale than your regular takeaway Japanese food. If you’re in the area and feel like some modern Japanese cuisine then give Taketori a try.
Most of the tables are small, but they do have a traditional seating area at the front where a small function can be held.
Taketori Fusion Japanese
Phone: (03) 9939 8152
225 King St, Melbourne 3000
Disclaimer: Ichigo Shortcake dined as a guest of Taketori, however the review is purely based on my personal experiences at the time of dining.