The quest for a good, cheap place to have lunch close to my office does not always end in a great discovery. Last Thursday Alvaro had to go to the consulate, which happens to be a short stroll away from where I work, so we decided to have lunch together.
We started wandering the streets that surround Wynyard station but all the eateries I was interested in trying were packed. When waiting for the traffic lights to change, I spotted a place I had never seen before, a Japanese “express lunch” restaurant. We both love Japanese food and the word “express” implied “cheap”, at least in my twisted way of thinking.
From outside the glass doors we could see cold displays with drinks and a few remaining food items. It looked like they did takeaway only. When we stepped in and were led to the dining room, we realised it was quite big and had several waiters and waitresses running around with orders.
The photos in the laminated menu caught Al’s attention and immediately he suggested ordering a boat. From the three set menus available (two of them on wooden boats), we chose the Cruise combo to share. Because it included a miso soup, we ordered another one and figured out that’d be enough.
The Sapporo posters on the walls and propaganda on the tables worked with me. Because I’m such a responsible employee and had to get back to work, I ordered the small one.
Service was quick, the soups and beer arrived promptly. The soup was good. I had to restrain myself from drinking the beer straight away to avoid a temperature shock.
Miso soup ($2.50), Sapporo – 250 ml ($6.00)
Then the Cruise combo arrived. Because it was meant to be eaten by one person, it had an odd number of rolls and they were all different. Sharing became a bit messy but not impossible. There was a salmon roll, a “crab” stick roll and a chicken roll. They were below average. It was my first time eating chicken sushi and I didn’t like it. Why use cooked chicken with so many seafood options?
Cruise combo ($19.50)
The next thing on the boat were fried spring rolls. They were super oily, not good at all. I tried to cut the oiliness with a bit of salad, if that small portion of lettuce and bits of tomato can be called that way. But I found that the dressing was grain mustard, a totally bizarre choice for a Japanese restaurant.
Then I tried the chicken teriyaki. It was the best item of the combo. Not spectacular, but decent enough. Finally, I tried the tempura. There were four pieces of sweet potato, two of zucchini and two big prawns. All the vegetable pieces were oily and one of my pieces of sweet potato undercooked. The prawn was ok.
I felt like I had spoiled lunch by trying a place without prior investigation. We thought a dessert would cheer us up, we looked around for options and decided that the weather was affogato-worthy. We checked a few places until we found one that served affogato: Espressino. The attentive guy and gal behind the counter were Italian and served us promptly. The coffee and gelato were average, but the crushed almonds were a nice touch.
Affogato: espresso shot, scoop of gelato, crushed almonds $4.50
28 King St
(02) 9279 1141
4/40-50 Clarence St
(02) 9299 0015