The Skinny’s plethora of affordable dining fun continues unabated guys, this time round featuring some fun Japanese food that will delight your taste buds without giving your hip pocket too much of a hammering.
Japanese cuisine. Those that are unfamiliar with its nuances tend to think of it as just a bunch of rice, seaweed and raw fish when the fact of the matter is that nothing could be further from the truth. There’s Ramen, Yakitori, Soba, Izakaya, Tempura, Shabu-shabu and Okonomiyaki just to name a few styles of cooking, not to mention the sushi, sashimi and tepanyaki that we’re familiar with in the West. It’s an amazing kaleidoscope of different noodles, fried, raw and grilled dishes, soups, curries and sauces. Even within the category of sushi there’s your traditional, strictly Japanese style and a more modern, less serious fusion approach that takes influences from all over the world and combines them in sushi form. Mr Munchies in Mt Lawley falls somewhere in between the two, offering both traditional fare and crazy fusion creations that will bend your mind and have you questioning everything you thought you knew about sushi, if not reality itself.
Tucked right down the end of an arcade off the Northern end of the main Beaufort St drag, it’s a chirpy little place full of bright colours and an entirely Japanese staff that, whilst they might not yet have that firm a grasp of the English language, nevertheless definitely know how to create interesting and mouth-watering sushi. Given that I was the only one in our group who’d been there before (and because I’m a pushy, opinionated food blogger) I was given the responsibility of ordering for the whole table. Taking this immense responsibility in my stride, I decided to start us off with their New Mix Style Sashimi, some Agadeshi Tofu and a Squid Salad (as they were heartbreakingly out of Seaweed Salad, which happens to be one of my favourite things in existence). At the risk of sounding a little full of myself, I’d have to say that it was a pretty damned good way to get the ball rolling. The tofu was crispy on the outside, soft and velvety on the inside and covered with yummy, salty sauce and the squid salad combined great soy and chilli flavours with chunks of chilled squid. I’m always a total sucker for sashimi too, and the horse mackerel and Hokkaido scallops were a particular highlight as I’d never tried either of them in their raw form before.
For our first round of sushi I mixed it up with a blend of traditional and fusion creations that included the Crunchy Spider Roll (deep fried soft shell crab, iceberg lettuce and cucumber topped with white sesame sauce and shallots), the Spicy Tuna Roll (marinated fresh tuna and avocado topped with tobikko and chilli mayo), the Chicken Katsu Kilpatrick Roll (chicken katsu with bacon and cheese served with BBQ and mustard sauce) and the Aussie Outback Roll (boneless lamb shank , oyster mushroom, steamed asparagus, roasted capsicum and a honey black pepper sauce). The soft shell crab in the Crunchy spider was nice and, well, crunchy and the Spicy Tuna, while definitely very well made and tasty, didn’t really live up to its name in that there wasn’t anywhere near enough kick as far as this chilli fanatic was concerned. The Kilpatrick Roll sounded good on paper, but in reality turned out taste wise to fall somewhere in a strange no-man’s-land between sushi and a fast food chicken and bacon cheeseburger. The Aussie Outback, on the other hand, blended all of its elements together seamlessly and, once you got over the fact that that was indeed lamb inside your rice and nori, was a quirkily brilliant creation.
Deciding collectively that we had room for a little more, round two consisted of the Energy Roll (eel, chopped coriander and snow pea sprout with sweet teriyaki sauce), the Seafood Roll (fresh salmon sliced, steamed prawn and cucumber topped with fresh tuna chunks, chilli flakes and served with a sauce hit of wasabi aioli and chilli mayo) and the Surf & Turf Roll (grilled steak rolled with steamed prawn and snow pea sprout topped with garlic chips and chilli flakes with a sweet onion sauce). While the Seafood and Surf and Turf were both very good (with the tuna chunks on top being a nice touch), the standout was definitely the Energy roll. In case you’ve not tried it, eel has a bold-but-not-too-fishy flavour that matches up perfectly with sweet teriyaki and the coriander and snow peas, while a little left field, set the whole thing off and elevated it to another level.
Now while it’s true that not all of their out there creations might have hit the mark, speculating what they might taste like beforehand and being surprised, disappointed or bewildered by how it actually turned out is all part of the fun. Places that do good sushi really aren’t that hard to find these days, so to come across one that re-injects a sense of fun and excitement into a cuisine that can be a little predictable at times is nothing short of magic. Add to that the fact that you can make up your own as you go along (they have a special create-your-own section in the menu) and there really is no limits to the potential Japanese madness that you can get up to.
Now you might well expect that you’d have to pay top dollar for all this delicious, slightly madcap dining brilliance, but that’s where the story gets even better. Both times I’ve been the bill has come to no more than $25 per head. Take that and add the cost effective benefits of BYO booze and you’ve got yourself a scrumptious, entertaining Japanese feast that won’t set you back too many Yen. Subarashii!
P.S: it really is a tiny little place so if you’re thinking of heading along then I’d definitely book ahead, even on a week night.