I'd like to be able to say something cute, like is Don Don is good good, but I can't can't. Yes, it is extremely popular and I know people who swear by it but it doesn't really rock my boat.
I understand the appeal, it's amazingly quick and one of those places where you can get something hot and filling for a few gold coins. But everything comes with a cost and the reason Don Don is so cheap is because it cuts so many corners. First of all, it has to be one of the daggiest places in town to eat. Not that I have a particular issue with that as I usually love basic places, but Don Don really pushes the envelope in that regard. And the service is like a school cafeteria crossed with production line - it's quick and efficient but cold and not very welcoming.
In terms of the quality of the food it's all kind of mediocre. That's not to be confused with bad or terrible, if it was I'd never eat there. But the beef in my suki yaki don was bland in flavour, the meat tasteless and a bit stringy. Looked pretty in the bowl but the proof is in the eating and the eating is pretty average.
Looking a bit worse but in my view tasting a bit better was my curry chicken don. This doesn't use the more normal crumbed and deep fried chicken but recycles the teriyaki chicken used in other dishes. What I liked about this was the grilled chicken, which gave the dish a different texture to the usual curry chicken katsu don.
But even so I'd still not class it as anything special. Where Don Don does come through though is on price, where it is around 1/3rd cheaper than similar dishes at most of the cheaper places around town.
Serves are generous, it's quick, it is probably the cheapest place around town. Just don't expect any fine dining experience otherwise you'll end up disappointed.
Food - 6.5
Ambience - 5
Service - 6
Price - 8.5
321 Swanston Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel :(03) 9662 3377