Tag Archives: seafood

a fortifying dinner at Daruma Japanese Kitchen

I really envy old people. Somewhere along the line, they get to this stage where they can tell you how they feel about just about everything and not care whose feelings they hurt.

Thus, gamba rehearsals were starting to become bittersweet. The lady who very graciously allows me to come to her house and play with her posse while certain regular members are in absentia was starting to get me down. Don’t get me wrong, I know my playing is bad: I’ve only just started to practise again, am having lessons but not able to do so regularly and my instrument still has a few technical teething problems. However, I love playing so even though I know the organiser will ‘sledge’ me in front of everyone (by all means, criticise but do it in a constructive manner), I still go because I need the experience and there isn’t exactly scores of folks to jam with.

front window

Tristan knew all of this, so he consented to treat me to dinner near the rehearsal venue. Despite getting a good sashimi fix at Matsu Hashi recently, my craving wasn’t fully sated. He suggested we try out a place in Camberwell called Daruma Japanese Kitchen. Again, someone still loves you, Urbanspoon.

I lugged in my instrument and Tris was already there, with liquid refreshment. They have several sakes to choose from and also have a shochu list. Throughout the course of our dinner we ordered three small flasks of sake (large is also available) – Bishounen Junmai Ginjo (smooth, a little fruity, 15% ABV), Kizakura Yamahai Jikomi (semi-dry with a rich body, 15% ABV) and lastly Nenihi Junmaino sake (dry with a mild, rich flavour, 16.2% ABV. Only available in a small flask). The bracketed descriptions are directly pinched off the menu. All of the ones we had were served cold and staff even recommended we wait for particular ones to cool for longer. My guess is they know their sake, excellent!

sake flasks on cold ice

It was unusual, however, to not be drinking beer, especially when signs all about us were telling us that Hokkaido, Japan’s most northern island, is nature on tap: who can resist such a catchy slogan?

Hokkaido is nature on tap

We shared two starters, firstly horenso and enoki mushrooms, cooked spinach with enoki mushrooms in a sesame dressing. They may have neglected to mention that it also had Japanese mayonnaise. Win! The enoki isn’t highly visible in this photo but it was plentiful.

horenso & enoki mushroom

The second starter was scallops cooked two ways, one grilled, one crispy and topped with caviar. It looked impressive and we were both at a loss as to how to divide it and spoil its presentation. The crispy one was rather sculpturesque.


The one in the shell less so, but still highly elaborate. Both were enjoyed greatly. I would probably suggest getting a serve each rather than sharing – it’s definitely worth it.

one half of scallops cooked two ways entree

My main was a no-brainer; remember, I was here to get my raw fish craving killed. I decided upon the tuna and salmon sashimi and augmented this with maki – tuna, salmon and oshinko. Um, I think the maki may have been the gut-buster…silly me. After eating the sashimi, I was left wondering why this place wasn’t packed to the gills (ha, fish pun!) – by comparison, Matsu Hashi was a blip on the raw fish radar. Their fish was exquisite.

tuna & salmon sashimi

tuna, oshinko & salmon maki

Tristan chose the most exciting main on the menu – the grilled black cod with yuzu miso. It doesn’t look particularly special but once in your mouth, a completely different story.

grilled black cod with yuzu miso

Ack! Rehearsal time. Tristan told me I could head off while he settled up and thus I headed into the night, towards my personal Bermuda Triangle, that damned Camberwell Junction. The restaurant was pretty quiet the evening we dined though it was Monday. It definitely deserves more patronage as it serves excellent Japanese food as well as drinks. I will be back to make my way through more of their sake and sample their shochu.

Daruma Japanese Kitchen on Urbanspoon

ninja-quick stop at Matsu Hashi

One night, me and Tris were invited to our mate Colin’s place for a fillum night. These things are pretty serious affairs: because they’re marathons, he usually posts up a schedule of when each film will show and what time they’ll start so you don’t ring his very loud doorbell and interrupt proceedings, which is perfectly fair (I still feel terrible about the last time I went and greeted him a little too enthusiastically and thus being that noisy person in the ‘cinema’).

We decided we’d dine in the area and I was absolutely dying for some serious raw fish action. There’s not many options in the Clifton Hill/Fitzroy North area that immediately came to mind (though I do recommend Otsumami in Northcote, it can be busy so we weren’t going to chance being walk-ins).

Urbanspoon yielded us Matsu Hashi on Queens Parade.

Counting our pennies, we rushed in. No EFTPOS. Drat. I rush back out, grab some dough from the nearest hole in the wall and immediately decide upon two bowls each of edamame, the delicious, addictive bastards. I don’t think I’ve ever shelled edamame as fast as I did that night: my technique is downpat. They don’t oversalt them either, which I think is just swell.


As Tristan had been chatting on Twitter to our dear friend Ranjit about unagi, he ordered an unadon. The bento it appeared in was deceptive and it proved to house a more filling portion than originally assumed. Tris remarked that eel wasn’t something he ate enough of, a sentiment echoed by me also.


How remiss of me for neglecting to mention that we did also receive starter pickles.

starter pickles

Ah, the deluxe sashimi platter! According to the menu, this boasted a premium selection of Hokkaido scallop, surf clam, tuna, salmon belly, kingfish belly and oyster. The salmon and kingfish were superb, being ridiculously fresh but it was obvious that this was not the case with the scallop and oyster, both of which were lightly bathed in dressing.

deluxe sashimi platter

Our meals came out as quickly as we wanted, we scarfed them down even faster then head off to Colin’s to watch films about evil college kids picking on hillbillies and in keeping with our meal’s theme, one about sociopathic Japanese fish merchants. I’m still not game enough to look up online just how much of the latter was based on reality, shudder but do recommend the former for some good, gory laughs (plus it has Alan Tudyk in it. Yes, that pilot dude from Firefly, RIP).

Matsu Hashi on Urbanspoon

south side sprawl – rampant consumerism


I take a good while to make a decision to purchase expensive items. I labour over the decision in my head; I weigh up the pros and cons. Usually the pros amount to “I want this new piece of shiny and it’d make me feel happy” and the cons “fleeting happiness is not edible and will not provide sustenance in the absence of food”.

The ‘pro’ argument tends to get louder the longer I obsess. But let’s be honest, I eat too much as it is! What’s a little self-inflicted starvation for the sake of a new shiny?

My latest internal ‘struggle’ was over the purchase of a new fancy-pants lens. I had tortured Gem with insentient talk of the damned thing for months. She was a good sport about the whole thing — she managed to constrain her homicidal mutterings to sleep talk. Well that, and there may have been a few failed smothering attempts. But I digress.

Finally, I gave in and I purchased the beauty.

Then I waited for it to arrive.

And waited.

And. Waited.

Then, after many a passive-aggressive tête-à-tête between myself and the retailer, the lens arrived! To celebrate, a South Side Sprawl was in order. You, the reader, I hope, rejoices.

After scouting Urbanspoon and reading Jeroxie’s review, Claypots Evening Star was decided upon. After some initial confusion in regards to the location due to gross enduncedness on my part, I found the restaurant. I was playing hookie from work and Melbourne was less of a petulant shit than normal, allowing the sun to make an appearance.

the bar

After attracting a glass of Gilgamesh riesling ($7 a glass) I took in the ohm-bee-ants of the place. Mr Dylan’s spastic harmonica was blaring from the loudspeakers and  the aforementioned ‘skylight of the Gods’ was providing  a good view of the kitchen. The kitchen bisects the restaurant and gives diners a view of the urgency in the kitchen and the madness of a busy service. A nice touch.

cooking working hard for the money

After responsibly imbibing inhaling my initial riesling and ordering another, Bob Dylan was replaced by a piano player. A lovely lunch time treat that’s repeated on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to piano, diners can except one side of the restaurant to be closed off, allowing a band to play and an ad-hoc dance floor to function.


After my brief but intoxicating relaxation period, I resumed my delicious mission, deciding on the garlic clams and bread and fish. I had arrived along with the lunch time rush. Judging by the frantic and often raised voices emanating from the kitchen, I think they may still be finding their collective stride. As such, my food took longer than I would have expected, but it was a lovely day and the wine was doing the trick.

chilli clamschilli clamschilli clams
















Above show the clams in various states of undress. They were wonderful, with a lovely chilli kick and chargrilled smokiness balanced by the freshness of the coriander. Unfortunately the one piece of bread was not nearly enough to mop up the broth, with the delicious concoction seemingly taunting me from the bottom of the bowl. At $12 it was a generous serving size, and it has me in the mood for more clams. Speaking of clams, the clam chowder seemed to be a crowd favourite amongst fellow diners.

bread and fish

While I could have quite happily stopped at the garlic clams, I’m glad I had the bread and fish. Throughout my childhood I was tortured with my mother’s overcooked trevally. Fortunately for me her sadistic streak rarely surfaced. Even so, I was sufficiently scarred that I avoided the aforementioned fish, errantly assuming the fish to be bland, rather than blaming its heavy-handed preparation.

Fortunately this was nothing like the trevally of my childhood — meaty and perfectly seasoned, it was the star of the dish. The bread was fairy floss fluffy with the onion and lettuce providing a nice textural contrast, if not a lot flavourwise.




One side of the kitchen is skirted by display cases showing the day’s fish and tapas offerings. You really get the impression of the seafood being super fresh, almost like you’re sourcing the fish direct from the a fishmonger. Unsurprising given the restaurant’s location in the South Melbourne market.

Lunch was finished and I had to vacate with new camera lens in hand. I was slightly rueful that I had dined solo. Unfortunately I didn’t have the extra dining companions required to (shamelessly) indulge in further gluttony. Next time I won’t make the same mistake.


Claypots Evening Star on Urbanspoon