Hmmm, sometimes others seem to have such a different reaction to a place that I wonder if I am missing something. That's certainly the case with Aoba.
I mean, I do agree that it's a very cute plate to eat. Loved the real neighbourhood eatery feel of the place, and the man and women who run it are just so friendly that you want to run up and give them a hug, or even adopt them as your alternative grandparents.
But the food itself, I don't think it was so much bad as just not that great, cheap meal that other's comments had led me to expect. I thought it could hold its head up as typical suburban Japanese cafe food but did it stand out as somewhere out of the ordinary, not to me anyway.
First dish up was the agedashi tofu. This is a bit of a favourite dish of mine, as I love the contrast between the slightly crispy exterior and the creamy middle of the tofu, and the flavours as it soaks up the sauce. With not much texture or flavour it just wasn't the delightful start to the meal I was looking for.
The chicken kara age was a bit better, deep fried chicken that was crispy on the outside, moist within and not that greasy. Major issue, just not a lot of flavour to it even using the accompanying mayonnaise.
Mains include a series of bento boxes, as well as sushi, sashimi and a variety of meats with rice or salad. Almost a given was that I'd order the chicken curry don, breaded, deep fried strips of chicken with a mild curry sauce, served with rice and a little vegetable. We all have our favourite dishes we have to order and this is one of mine. At its best it transforms me to my happy place, warm, mild and comforting. Unfortunately this left me more indifferent, easy to eat and filling but without leaving me with a happy glow.
Last dish the sushi and sashimi bento. I think this was a classic case of you get roughly what you pay for. You are paying for a comparatively cheap sushi bento and you shouldn't expect to get top of the range sushi. You won't get that unbelievably melting flavours of super fresh sushi prepared by a top sushi chief. You'll get some rolls, a few pieces of nigiri sushi, some sashimi, a bit of seaweed and salad. It's ok.
I feel a bit mean, maybe even guilty, because I liked the place and owners so much, and it appears to be very popular with some people. But to me the food and pricing was just a bit meh, I didn't dislike it, but I'm not in a hurry to return.
Food - 6.5
Ambience - 7.5
Service - 7.5
Price - 6
279 Glenferrie Road
Malvern VIC 344
Tel: (03) 9509 3399