Monday, August 22, 2011

Kenzan@GPO, Melbourne CBD by Big Fil

It was a last minute decision to visit Kenzan@GPO. We'd already been to Ramen Ya next door only two days earlier and our aim had been to try the dumplings at Shanghai Street Dumplings. Fools that we were we thought we could get a table if we rocked up at 12.01 on a Friday afternoon. Wrong!

Fortunately our next choice Kenzan was busy but not full. On an overcast day its mixture of low and high lighting levels made it feel cave-like, with most of the lighting falling behind the long glass counter that contained a variety of neatly packaged sushi and rice rolls. It didn't feel a terribly inviting environment to eat to me, although most of the seating is in the nearby alleyway so it isn't really an issue.

This time it was my turn to order the bento with miso soup on the side and Snooze the ramen. While we ordered at the same time my meal came out several minutes before Snooze's and Benny's, so by the time they started eating I was already three quarters finished.

My hopes were high after the soup, which was nicely flavoured, and the bento box looked good when it came out. No issues with the flavours either, with the pick probably the rolls. I also liked the beef a lot, which looked like a piece of steak but had a texture more like meatloaf. However, I was left with a vague feeling of disappointment after finishing. Yes, it was comparable to the best of the admittedly limited number of Bento boxes I've tried in the city. But then I'd expected it to be as it was probably the most expensive at $20 and fairly or not I'd had visions of a little more both in quantity and quality.

Benny's choice was one of the specials, the tonkotsu ramen: sliced pork belly with vegetables and egg. This looked interesting with its sliced, pickled pork and slightly thickened broth. In the interests of the blog Benny sacrificed a slice of the pork for Snooze and myself to try and it was a nice piece of pork, flavoursome and very tender.

Snooze went for the tonton ramen: spiced pork mince with egg. This looked a little oily and not as attractive as the other ramen, but the main issue was it was beyond Snooze's usual tolerance for spicy food. Both Bennie and I tried it and didn't find it that hot, but we both agreed that while the flavour was nice it felt like there was something missing. Bennie thought it tasted like the mince from Ma Pa Tofu but missing a few ingredients, whereas it reminded me of the sauce from a mild Dan Dan Noodles but without the Sichuan Pepper.

It's hard not to compare Kenzan and Ramen Ya given our visit to Ramen Ya was only a couple of days earlier. Kenzan felt more professional but Ramen Ya more friendly. The price at Kenzan reflected its aiming at a higher level but unfortunately it missed on a couple of elements and nothing made us go 'wow' to compensate. I've since heard good things about the sushi and will return to try it. On the whole though it was one of those places which was fine but it felt like it could have been better.

Food - 7.5
Ambience - 6
Service - 6.5
Price - 6.5

Shop G28 GPO Building
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9663 7767

Kenzan @ GPO on Urbanspoon


katy_em said...

looks expensive man! i had been wanting to go there for ages... but sadly couldn't find the courage for something so expensive
maybe when the food is a bit cheaper then I'll go.
meanwhile you can check out some of our posts at:
by the way good blog.
xxo: newintstudents blog

Anonymous said...

Its not that expensive, just a bit more so than some of the other Japanese places near work.


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