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Thursday, 15 March 2007

Ito Japanese Noodle Cafe

Ito is our usual restaurant of choice when we're catching up with Joel, Rumi, Kevin and Priscilla. Yesterday was no exception. However, we forgot the fact that Kevin was now working in the suburbs without a car, so he had to catch a train back into the city. Oh boy did he complain about the walk.... But that's another story.

For dinner, Ito is usually crowded with students and families whom have made their home in the city. Surprisingly, it wasn't that full yesterday and we had the whole of the back upper floor to ourselves.

First off – drinks! I love their variety of drinks ranging from frothy iced macha, Grape Calpico, to Tsunami – a sparkling lycee sake cocktail. For entree, we ordered a large plate of sashimi. This time it was better, more variety, more radish, and seemingly fresher produce. There was tuna, mackerel, squid, octopus, and prawns for the eagerly awaiting bellies. Each of us also ordered our own mains, which were the standard Japanese fare. The standout dishes were the Nabeyaki Udon – a traditional winter dish of prawn, chicken, vegetables and egg with udon noodles in a dashi clear soup, served in a iron hot pot; and the Tempura Soba – Mixed tempura accompanied by cold soba noodles. The tempura was crunchy and buttery and the light batter made the seafood and vegetables taste so good. Unfortunately, my Salmon Foil Bake (Salmon fillet and with onions, tomatos, lemon and carrots wrapped in foil and grilled in its own juice, served with a green salad with ponzu sauce) was not as flavoursome as I had hoped. It would have been better if it was baked in dashi or stock. However, it has given me an idea to try to replicate the dish and improve it at home.

Oh my goodness, I just remember that we forgot to have dessert there! Oh well… my friends' children were a bit tired so we had to leave…Ito’s variety of dessert is extensive. They have the simple Macha ice-cream that any decent Japanese restaurant should serve, but they also have the Ogura ice cream (vanilla ice cream with red bean paste), black sesame ice cream, ice platter (which is a sample selection of the ice creams) and the delicious Mitsumame (with mixed fruits, green tea ice cream and red bean paste) – this is my favourite.

Mind you, the service is not great, and you tend to have to wave down the speeding waiters and waitresses but the food is not bad for the price. You could happily have a three-course meal for $30 J And don’t forget to order your Tsunami!

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Ito Japanese Noodle Café Melbourne
122 Bourke St, Melbourne, 3000
03 9663 2788

Tipbits: They own GoGo Sushi on Swanston Street too… The sushi at this sushi train restaurant isn’t bad and it’s a healthy fast eat and run type of place. Last order 9p.m.

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