J Café Restaurant is one of the many Japanese cafes in the city selling quick and easy meals, mainly to students during our lunchtime visit but I could imagine it appealing to nearby office workers as well. While we found our main meals just a touch better than most and very generous in size what they are best known for are their sushi burgers. Sushi burgers, what’s that all about?
First of all though, décor wise it had a kind of schizophrenic feel to me. When you enter the counter looks like your typical takeaway sushi style café. If you sit down though it’s kind of nice, with comfortable tables and chairs, a few flowers and calligraphy signs. Out the back there appeared to be another room as well. If we had the choice on a revisit I’d try to sit out there, getting some space from the counter and the takeaway trade.
Snooze’s choice was the ebi fry don, prawns crumbed and deep fried on top of rice and egg, served with miso soup on the side. She was complementary about the soup and I thought the prawns were also quite nicely done. The rice too was comparatively fluffy although when combined with the egg it resulted in a heavy lunch for someone who is generally a lighter eater. Combine that with the more than generous portion and Snooze was only able to finish two thirds of her serve.
My choice was the katsu salad, fried crumbed pork was mayonnaise and a sweet sauce, served with a garden style salad and some grapes a slice of orange for after. The nice crispy salad went well with the pork, a meaty style salad quite different to most western salads. If I had an issue it would have been the pork was a little dry.
The whole point of coming here though had been to try the sushi burgers. To be honest I had no real idea what to expect, knowing almost nothing about them except that Chewy was a big fan. There are maybe 8 or so options to try, including a crab coquette. The normal bun is replaced by two rice patties, placed inside a seaweed wrap for ease of eating. I have to say I thought it was pretty good. The rice has a firm texture so that it held together as well as most hamburger buns, the croquette with its sweet sauce was moist and flavoursome. I even felt like I was eating something that was good for me, a very novel experience for eating a burger.
An interesting lunch with the undoubted highlight the sushi burger. The one thing which could be improved is the service. I got the strong impression that one of the waitresses wasn’t very confident in her English, and the food took much longer after ordering than I’d expected. I’d certainly return here again but probably get the sushi burgers to takeaway.
Food – 7.5
Ambience – 7
Service – 6.5
Price – 7
167 Exhibition Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9650 9877