15 Little Collins St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Whilst Chris enjoyed his daily egg sandwich (or katsu, if he was feeling spicy) in the mornings, my breakfast routine in Japan consisted of a freshly brewed ice coffee, and an onigiri from the local konbini. No combination had ever appealed so much to both the Asian and Aussie in me. So I was mega excited when I heard Onigiri Kitchen and Sake Bar, which basically does the same combination of coffee and rice balls, albeit with the bonus of snacks and booze (which to be fair, you can also get at a convenience store in Japan). Unfortunately the reality fell short of my expectations. Despite looking fantastic, the food quality was actually pretty poor, either lacking flavour in the case of the onigiri, or being pre-cooked and re-heated in the case of the side dishes. It’s really a shame, because I was so ready to love this place.
Rating: 11/20 – please make your food fresh to order!
Sad times: the latkes looked so good; i bet they were delicious when they first came out of the fryer.
At $15 for 3, the Onigiri ($15/3pcs) is excellent value, especially for the CBD. And they very much look the part too; they’re even wrapped in that special Japanese way that ensures the nori doesn’t touch the rice until you’re ready to eat, so that it stays perfectly crisp.
Unfortunately, these weren’t that great. Out of the 6 options, we tried the chicken, beef, and tuna. But despite the extensive list of yummy-sounding ingredients in each, they were invariably bland. It’s slightly improved with the addition of soy sauce, but given onigiri weren’t meant to be eaten with soy in the first place, I’d argue that doesn’t count. Perhaps most noticeable of all though was the fact that the rice was overcooked. When you’re essentially eating flavoured rice, you really do notice when the texture is soggy and off.
The Latkes ($7) looked amazing… and I’m sure they were, when they initially came out of the fryer. Unfortunately, they had since cooled and been reheated, and the result is greasy and unbearably dry. It’s an extra shame, because the accompanying yuzu apple puree, and ponzu dressing were delicious.
The Klops ($9) suffered a similar fate. Though not quite as dry as the latkes, these were still stale, even after dipping into the well-blended wasabi soy sauce. All of this just felt extra disappointing, because these chicken rissoles also tasted like they had once been delicious.
The Pickled Vegetables ($4) however were very good, pickled in a lightly tangy brine, with different veggies providing an interesting range of textures. If you ask me, this just further proves my theory that the food here would’ve been excellent, had it been freshly made.