Ito Japanese Noodle Cafe

122 Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

It’s always upsetting when plans fall through. The 11 of us pharmacy kids had planned on having a big lunch at Green Pepperbefore we go our separate ways for three weeks of placement, but despite having booked a whole week in advance, we showed up at 1pm to an annoying lack of reserved tables. After standing around for a good 15 minutes and watching the tables promised to us given away to those without bookings again and again, we gave up and made our way to Ito Japanese Noodle Cafe instead. Poor form Green Pepper.
It must’ve been destiny, because when we got to Ito, there were no tables available… aside from a recently vacated table in its own little nook, big enough to seat 12 people. We were overjoyed.
The restaurant is a lot bigger than it appeared from the outside, with a long sushi bar lining one side, and the rest filled with plush booths. The menu is fairly extensive as well, covering a broad range of rice, noodles, bento boxes, and sushi. Everyone managed to find something to float their boat, though Sophia was mighty disappointed that the takoyaki, the best she’s had in Melbourne, is only on the dinner menu.
Katsu Curry ($11.5)

Nick unfortunately had to leave for work at 2 sharp, so he wanted something quick and simple – Katsu Curry($11.5) it was. He liked this enough, saying that the sauce was ‘alright’, and the katsu was ‘sort of crunchy’. Keep in mind though that Nick has katsu curry all the time, and that he’s hard to please when it comes to food. From where I sat the dish looked delicious; a fool-proof combination of pork cutlet, rice, and thick curry sauce.

Teriyaki Chicken Don ($11.5)
Sneha went for the Teriyaki Chicken Don($11.5). The chicken, cushioned by salad and rice, was smoky but not as sweet and delicate as I like it. Sneha found the meat to be a little too fatty for her taste, but otherwise enjoyed it. Kathy also ordered the teriyaki chicken, and she mopped it all up, proclaiming ‘delicious!’.
Bento Box 2 ($15.8)

Saddened by the lack of takoyaki, Sophia consoled herself with the Bento Box 2 ($15.8), which came with rice, eel, mixed kushi-age, and curry sauce. The kushi-age was definitely the highlight of the dish, the golden crumbs encasing all sorts of goodies, such as a minced beef patty, or a sweet pumpkin crescent. The eel looked a bit thin and sad on the bed of salad, but I was assured that it was tender and flavoursome.

Suki Udon ($9.8)

I really, really wanted chirashi. In fact, I had been craving it for the last couple of weeks. But Ito didn’t serve chirashi, so I had to make do with a deep bowl of Suki Udon ($9.8). I liked the noodles, I liked the soup, and I liked the beef, but somehow, I didn’t love the dish. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely tasty, I would probably just never think about it again. Bilge, who had the Suki Soba ($9.8), really liked the soup, but she found the beef to be stringy and tasteless.

Gyoza ($7.5 for 6)
A serve of Gyoza ($7.5 for 6) was also ordered to share. I didn’t get to try them, but Sandu, sitting further down the table, assured me that they were really good.
And because it would be horrible of me to make everyone wait whilst I took photos of everything, here’s a shot down the table instead. Between the 11 of us, we ordered a good representative of what was on offer. Generally positive reviews were received all round, with some extra love given to Sarah’s ramen, and Minh-An’s impressively generous vegetarian bento, which elicited a collective ‘WHOA’ when it hit the table. Ito isn’t the first place you would think of to eat at on a night out, but it’s definitely a good backup plan, thanks to its varied menu, accessible prices, and plentiful space.
Rating: 12.5/20 – eat-yo ramen.

Ito Japanese Noodle Cafe on Urbanspoon

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  • Reply Peach 12/09/2012 at 10:02 am

    OH GOD – it’s been like… 8 years since i last went there. I think I might need to visit – i cant remember what it was like now.

    Its sad that the katsu kurry don wasnt all that good though ;(

    • Reply ming 14/09/2012 at 1:24 pm

      Is it really that old! For some reason I just see restaurants as being sort of… age-less. And I don’t think the katsu curry wasn’t all that good, nick is just a harsh critic :p

  • Reply Daisy@Nevertoosweet 12/09/2012 at 3:10 pm

    This place is definitely affordable and reasonably price, especially for a Japanese restaurant in the city :) A shame that katsu wasn’t as nice but good to know the udon was yummy :D

    • Reply ming 14/09/2012 at 1:25 pm

      Ito seems like such a ‘safe’ place to go, price, food and location wise – provided no one hates japanese food of course, but who would! Well ok I know someone who does but, I digress

  • Reply theragingcook 13/09/2012 at 11:08 am

    Ito’s alright – they’re really good if you have a group of say 10 peeps, plus it’s an easy place to pick when you need to cater for everyone’s wallets – provided they like Japanese of course! :D

    • Reply ming 14/09/2012 at 1:27 pm

      That’s exactly it! Ito is the kind of place you would end up at when you don’t really know what to do. Everyone should love japanese in my opinion! :D

  • Reply Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake 14/09/2012 at 6:04 am

    It’s also been SUCH a long time since I last went there…probably as long as Peach or maybe even longer. Your photos are stunning as usual, especially that teriyaki chicken, OMG I am so drooling right now. Too bad the katsu didn’t live up to how good it looks!

    • Reply ming 14/09/2012 at 1:28 pm

      Next someone will be telling me that Ito has been there since james cook landed in botany bay :p Thanks so much, I made the mistake of sitting in the sun so there was a wee too much light, but I suppose I can’t complain. And I’m sure the katsu was yummy! It looked really good!

  • Reply Libby 16/09/2012 at 11:05 am

    That sucks about the bad experience at Green Pepper. I do rate their food (and their sister restaurant, Red Pepper) so it’s a shame that they provided such terrible service :(

    Ahhhh I wouldn’t mind going back to Ito for old time’s sake either!

    • Reply ming 17/09/2012 at 9:01 am

      I really enjoyed the food at Red Pepper, which is why I was so keen on, and subsequently disappointed by Green Pepper. I do plan on going back some day as a very harsh critic :p

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