We dine out regularly in Victoria Park/East Victoria Park and have walked past Senoji Japanese Restaurant many times. It never seems to have many customers but we’ve stopped and read the menu that they have on display at the front of the restaurant. At last, on a Tuesday evening before easter, we decided to give it a try.
The menu features ippinryori (small dishes), Chef’s small dish recommendations, sushi and sashimi, and oshokuji (large dishes). There are also daily chalkboard specials. We decided to order a series of small dishes to share. Our waiter told us we were welcome to order more dishes throughout the meal and after taking our initial order, she left a menu on our table. This proved to be a good move (yes, sharp-eyed readers will have noticed I did write “initial order”).
First: warming, tasty, savoury miso soup, as we waited for the rest to arrive.
I was excited to see scallops panfried in butter, or scallop batayaki (AU$7.90) on the menu. We got what looked to be three scallops, each sliced horizontally in half, served hot on quickly wilting mixed green leaves. The scallop pieces were tender and sweet, though I found myself wishing 1) there were more of them 2) they’d been caramelised and 3) they tasted more buttery.
The tori karaage (AU$7.90) consisted of five pieces of freshly fried battered chicken, served popping hot. The chicken was succulent and juicy. I wish they’d served it with a sauce – mayonnaise, or even better, chilli mayonnaise!
Jac was keen to order some sashimi. First, tuna sashimi (small AU$10.80, large AU$19.50). The first thing we noticed (besides the gleaming pieces of fish) was the mini tower of wasabi piled on a thin slice of radish.
I’ll never like raw fish as much as cooked, but I do like kingfish sashimi (small AU$10.80, large AU$19.50). Once again, as we admired the delicate fronds of sliced kingfish on the plate, we marvelled at the thought of anyone eating that much wasabi! Would any of you?
It made me think of a workmate at a previous job, who was new to Japanese cuisine and had never eaten wasabi. On this particular day, he’d bought chicken sushi rolls and we watched with horror and amusement as he spread a thick layer (really, REALLY thick) of wasabi all over the sushi. We did warn him that wasabi is hot and told him that really wasn’t a good idea, but he insisted he liked spicy food. We then watched as he took a bite… Let’s just say it ended in tears!
Jac was also very keen on the wagyu tataki (AU$12.50), finely sliced wagyu beef drizzled with Japanese lime dressing. She found it a little chewy; I ate a slice of beef and had to agree with her. I couldn’t really taste lime in the dressing.
Those five “small dishes” made up our first round of food. We also shared rice for one. But we were still a little hungry, so we consulted the menu again. Jac declared a hankering for dumplings, so we ordered a serve of chicken gyoza (AU$7.90). I thought they could’ve been plumper, but they were a delight to eat. Their skins were golden-brown and crispy with soft, silky fringes. We ate two each and shared the last dumpling.
Last of all, we were tempted by one of the evening’s chalkboard specials – grilled pork ribs (Chef’s special, AU$10.50). They smelled fantastic and were hefty-looking things. Unfortunately, the meat on them was quite tough and rubbery and despite picking them up and giving them a good chew, it was very hard work extracting the meat from the bones. A little disappointing.
At Senoji there is a wide range of sake for sale. If you buy one of the larger bottles and don’t get through it all in a sitting, they will save the leftover portion for up to six months – during which time you can come back, order more food and drink from your bottle of sake.
Our waiter offered us free samples of fruit wine, of which we tried two – lychee wine and plum wine. The lychee wine was too strong for either of us, but the plum was sweet and dangerously easy to drink.
This was probably an expensive way to eat dinner. We enjoyed our experience at Senoji and the staff were very friendly, but if I’m in the mood for Japanese on a weeknight after work, I think nine times out of ten I’d much rather a simple teriyaki chicken or chicken katsu curry and rice.
Senoji Japanese Restaurant
Shop 1/ 885 Albany Hwy
East Victoria Park
Telephone: (08) 9362 2979
Tuesday to Wednesday 6pm to 10pm
Thursday to Sunday, 12pm to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm