Located on Little Bourke St in the Melbourne CBD, Gaijin Lunch Bar is a cute little lounge room of a restaurant. I went to catch up with a friend for lunch and with neither of us ever having been here before, our first impressions of the place was that it looked welcoming and felt quite homely. The place is run by predominantly by Indonesians who were attentive, polite and very nice to us. The establishment has only been open in the last 6 months, provides a good mix of comfort and style. There’s a lot of open space and personality in the interior decor. Gaijin Lunch Bar is a wonderful place to hang out and catch up with a friend over lunch. The restaurant has decent sized menu with enough choices to keep you happy, though their food is what I’d almost refer to as dining in hawker food. It’s not a fancy restaurant and don’t expect authentic Japanese as it is made by Indonesians, however the meals are still tasty.
When we walked in, my friend and I were given a bit of time to check out the menu before being greeted by one of the friendly female staff. We were welcomed but then instructed to order our meals and pay at the counter when ready. The choice of seating was entirely up to us since the place was empty. Bear in mind this was on the Sunday a few days before Christmas, I wouldn’t be surprised if most people had better things to do than explore a little recently opened restaurant hidden by a laneway. Maybe it’ll take some time before things will pick up but I’m just glad for the full attention that comes with going to a place that still needs to impress the local patrons.
This is where we chose to sit down. That’s right smack bang right in the middle of the whole place. We chose a long dining table just for two people. I mean why not right?
Serving size was just right for me in general, although I could have use with a bit more salad and personally less rice. I ordered the popular Dynamite Crunchy Don (above) which is essentially fried crabstick & scallops with some mild chilli sauce served with panko crumbs, lettuce leaf mix on a bed of white short grain rice. The meals were served in a plastic bowl with wooden chopsticks, which I didn’t mind too much. I would prefer it they had served it in a bowl though. The taste was something a little different to what I’m used but still alright. It’s a little bit much for $10 since I couldn’t really see much scallop in there. Hanaichi sells some mean Japanese dishes, which are a lot more tastier and cheaper too. If I was to compare this with Hanaichi, Hanaichi would win hands down of course for value and taste, but not ambience. They do serve the food to you at least when I went, so we didn’t have to pick it up at the counter.
My friend ordered the Spicy Chick which was in essence quite similar to my dish except it was chicken instead. He found the food alright, tasty but nothing that would excite him.
Near the counter the restaurant displays images of it’s food items from the menu so you can see the food you might be ordering. I think their selection of appetizers or entrees may be more appealing for a casual lunch or morning tea as they do serve coffee as well. I did not try any of the coffee because I only drink coffee on special social occasions, and when I do I expect the best. Considering the place doesn’t particularly specialise in it I wouldn’t give them a chance. There are so many great places to have coffee in Melbourne, why go to a Japanese lunch bar right?
Overall the ambience of the restaurant is the most dominating positive feature of the place and their friendly staff. It was like dining in a lounge room. Food served is what I consider tasty comfort food. The portion was just right for me considering the price. It’s a tasty cheap eat and simply that. Great place to just sit around and catch up with friends for lunch.
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