If you are in an area you don't know very well it can be a lucky dip to find a cheap, filling and acceptable quality meal. One of the best ways near universities is to follow the conga line of students at lunchtimes and after 5. It sometimes feels like students have a 6th sense for finding value for money places, although it's really a mix of little cash and great networking. There are a few student type eating places near Caulfield train station. Uzu sits on the corner of Derby Road, a few seats in a cosy but cramped café with 4 or so tables outside next to the road.
One of Uzu's specialities is the takoyaki, fried octopus balls with a sweet sauce and mayonnaise. While not saying that much, as it's not something I've had very often, those at Uzu are the best I have tried. They might have been a little mushy but they were still big and flavoursome. I was a bit greedy with these though, managing to burn my mouth on a couple that were cool enough to eat on the outside but a bit too hot still in the middle. I think the moral of that story is if unsure, test by nibbling the edges first rather than taking big bites.
The other two appetisers I tried were also good. The gyoza were nicely fried, properly crispy on one side and not too soft on the other. One of the things I like about gyoza is the way the flavours of all the ingredients balance giving it some complexity. The filling in these was good, meaty but not dominatingly so.
The agedashi tofu, fried tofu in a bowl of lightly flavoured sauce, was my favourite of the entrees though. The best part of the dish was the three different textures. Slightly crispy on the outside contrasting with softness of the tofu in the middle, which again varied depending on whether it had been sitting in or above the sauce.
I am a fan of unagi don and the one at Uzu is of generous proportions. In fact I had to break it into smaller pieces because I found it hard to manage with the chopsticks (I am still on my P plates). The eel was tasty, not being drowned in the accompanying sauce, and the vegetables on the side broke up the strong flavour that eel normally has.
Katsu don is another general favourite. Generous with the chicken, it was a bit overwhelmed with egg and sauce though giving it a softer and less chicken like flavour and texture. It also made it look like a bit of a mess. While not a bad dish I have had better.
Wanting to try one of the noodle soups I went with the beef udon. Consistent with the other mains, it was a generous serve with nice noodles and soup but nothing outstanding. That was the consistent theme at Uzu. Everything acceptable to good, nothing either poor or outstanding. Exactly what you'd expect in a popular student eating place.
Except for the fact that on each visit I had to sit outside by the road I quite enjoyed my visits to Uzu. While the inside is cramped but cosy the outside seats are a bad spot to eat, close to a busy road with lots of passing foot traffic, and when the sun is going down the glare is very bad.
Food - 7.5
Service - 7.0
Ambience 5 (Inside 6 and outside 4)
2 Derby Rd
Malvern East VIC 3145
Tel: (03) 9571 6792