Maedaya is the closest thing I have found in Melbourne that gives off the same vibe, value and food as Sushi Tei, and I have a feeling I will become a regular at this Bridge Rd institution. The second rated Japanese restaurant in Melbourne (only second to Izakaya Den, which I am yet to try), Maedaya like many other popular restaurants has a no booking policy. However, we arrived asking for a table for 3 at 7.30pm and were seated by 8pm which was fine with me!
The restaurant aesthetically is very sleek and sophisticated, dark and modern. The minute we walked through the door we were hit by the smell of the yakitori grill, a meaty, smokiness that I loved. I got a laugh out of Craig and his best mate when after a few sakes I sighed and said, "God I hope my clothes smell like this when we leave." Yep, the smell was that good.
We started with some sake which I quite like to drink. Its like sipping on a spirit without the burning in your throat, and it goes well with the food.
We nibbled on some complimentary lotus root chips whilst perusing the colourful menu. I have never had lotus root chips before and they were really great- I would love to know how to make them or where I could buy them.
We decided to share a variety of dishes between the 3 of us.
The Kawari Tuna Sashimi was beautiful- plump pieces of tuna quickly seared and smothered in a wasabi mayonnaise that had just the right amount of kick to it. For $13.80 it was extremely good value with 8 large and thick pieces of tuna.
The tempura prawn was exceptionally good. Our friend is a bit of a Japanese nut and has travelled to Japan and eaten at most of the best little Japanese restaurants in Melbourne, and he claimed it was one of the best he has had. Beautiful plump prawns coated in the lightest and crispiest tempura batter I have tasted, with a gorgeous fish roe dipping sauce- the boys ordered a second serve because they loved it so much! At $13 a serve for 6 good sized prawns, these were good value also.
The fried chicken was a real decadent treat. Tender, melt in your mouth chicken pieces covered in a crispy batter with a creamy mayonnaise. This was the kind of food you should feel guilty about eating but can't because it is just so good!
The gyoza were enjoyable but nothing overly mind-blowing, stuffed with a flavoursome pork mince and grilled nicely so they had a nice char-grilled crisp about them.
The Sukiyaki Grill plate was a great way to try some of the beautiful grilled meats from the yakitori grill. We each tried a little of the pork belly, bean curd, beef and yakitori chicken. The chicken was so amazing that I ordered an extra skewer while the boys munched on their extra tempura prawns. It was so tender and beautifully smoky that I could have easily eaten a whole plate!
With all this food and the bottle of sake, we only ended up paying $40 a head which is extremely good for the quality of the food and sophisticated environment. A far cry from the $40 we paid in Malaysia at Sushi Tei, but who's complaining- how fabulous to find such a great Japanese place in Melbourne to have my 'unique' Japanese fix. A must try in Melbourne for Japanese food lovers!