400 Bridge Rd
Richmond, VIC 3121
‘I’m eating at Maedaya with My-Dear’, chortled Chris with another low-quality pun as we walked into the popular izakaya in Richmond. After a hectic week and more shifts than a full time worker, I decided that I could do with a bit of a treat. Being an izakaya, Maedaya isn’t so much a restaurant as it is a Japanese bar serving a huge selection of food and sake. What’s special about Maedaya is the charcoal fire grill they have right next to the bar, where they cook up the izakaya’s signature dish, grill skewers
It may seem small when you first walk in, but Maedaya has a larger upstairs section housing charcoal grills on the tables for larger groups of customers. The ropes stretching across the ceiling and the sake bottles lining the bar make me feel like I’m in the ship cabin of an alcohol-loving captain.
Bridge Connection ($7.5)
 I originally hadn’t planned on ordering any drinks; the idea was to save stomach room for the food to come. But the Bridge Connection ($7.5) was too good to resist with its promise of lychee, ruby grapefruit, and umeshu (plum wine). I was very grateful for this drink later down the track, as its refreshing sweet and sour notes helped cut through the richness of some of the dishes (I’m looking at you, pork belly!). For the more serious drinkers, Maedaya also has an intimidating list of sakes, shochus, and umeshus.
Lotus Root Chips with Edamame Dip
 Here at Maedaya, they go one step beyond the complimentary bread and butter. Instead, they serve up an appetiser of Lotus Root Chips with Edamame Dip. One taste of this and I was immediately hooked. The crunchy chips were the perfect vehicle for the salty, chunky dip. It was a shame that Chris ate all of it whilst I was busy taking photos.
Kawa (2.5)/Tsukune ($2.3)/Yakitori ($2.5)/Pork Asparagus ($3.5)/Guy Kushi ($3.8)
Within about few minutes of ordering, out came a platter of skewers hot off the grill. From the 20 or so available, we chose five skewers to share. The Kawa (chicken skin, $2.5) was crispy and fatty in a way that’s oh-so-good for your tastebuds, but oh-so-bad for your waistline. The Tsukune (chicken balls, $2.3) and Yakitori (chicken thigh, $2.5) weren’t outstanding, but they were tasty and delightfully charred by the charcoal grill. The Pork Asparagus ($3.5) was a long crispy spear wrapped in a thin but fatty slice of pork, negating any health benefits the asparagus had, but doubling the deliciousness. And finally, the Gyu Kushi (beef loin, $3.8) was juicy, tender, and still pink in the center. These were an excellent hands-on starter to the meal, and I’ll wager they’re also good accompaniments to a drink or two. And for the less carnivorously inclined, there’s a reasonable selection of vegetarian skewers, including tofu and shiitake mushrooms.  
Kawari Tuna Sashimi ($12.8)
 We were halfway through our skewers when the Kawari Tuna Sashimi ($12.8) was placed in front of us. Slices of half-cooked tuna sashimi with coral undersides were draped across a mound of shaved daikon, seasoned with sesame oil and teriyaki sauce, and topped with wasabi mayonnaise. This dish tasted as good as it looked. The slices of seared salmon were cooked just enough to become melt-in-the-mouth tender, but still managed to retain some of its firmness. The wasabi mayonnaise drizzled on top gave the usually light fish a much creamier, and subtly spicy taste.
Buta No Kakuni ($8.5)
I exhaled in awe as the next dish – the Buta No Kakuni ($8.5) arrived. Quivering cubes of slow-cooked pork belly sat in a light ginger soy broth. These rich sticky morsels are mostly fat, with just a few thin streaks of meat soaking up the sweet broth at the bottom. Despite being almost too decadent, our chopsticks still fought for the last few morsels. Now if only I had a bowl of fluffy white rice to spoon the broth over. 
Teriyaki Chicken ($14.5)
 Our last savoury dish for the night was the Teriyaki Chicken ($14.5). Arriving at our table still sizzling in the pan, these generous strips of chicken were tender and sweet. The crunchy vegetables at the bottom were some welcome relief to the almost completely carnivorous meal we’ve had so far.  
Maedaya Panna Cotta ($4.5)
 We originally wanted to get the Marugoto Lemon Sorbet ($4.2) as well, but had to settle for just the Maedaya Panna Cotta ($4.5), as they were unfortunately out of the former. The panna cotta was described as a ‘silky soy milk panna cotta topped with mixed berry sauce’, but in reality, it was so much more. Looking for the world like simple, home-made dessert, I can’t even begin describing how unbelievably perfect it was. Light yet impossibly creamy, and topped with a couple of berries in syrup, this rivalled Movida’s Caramel Flan for the position of my favourite dessert ever
Bill with Lollies
After all our pigging out, our bill came to a very reasonable $62.50. Presented in a cute little wicker basket with a couple of lollies, it was a sweet ending to a very enjoyable meal. And before I forget, it’s also worth mentioning that the staff at Maedaya really do go the extra mile to make the experience as good as it could possibly be. It was some of the friendliest and most helpful service we’ve ever received.
Rating: 15/20 – it’s hard to overstate my satisfaction

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