restaurant jun – perth

I’m guilty of having an affair with Japanese food. It’s gone on for as long I can remember. Back when I resided in Singapore ( ages 0 to 8 ) I used to petulantly demand that I be taken to a Teppanyaki restaurant for every special occasion…from my 6th birthday to the time my parents entertained the President of the Solomon Islands and his wife. They were lovely simple folk and I think they were rather alarmed at the  knife wielding chef flipping eggs around his head and setting fire to the “big hot table” in front of them.

As a young one I was Miss Fuss-N-Boots and particularly sensitive to anything spicy (this could be from the fact that my mother utilised ‘chilli-ing’ as a disciplinary measure). So it was no surprise that in Singapore, the land of exotically rich spicy dishes that the sweet, salty delicate flavours of Japanese food appealed greatly to me as a child. Years later, despite a now rampant addiction to my former nemesis (the ole’ chilli) I still have a soft spot for anything Nipponese.

Perth Japanese food has come in leaps and bounds in the past couple of years. Though the generic sushi/teriyaki chicken shop is no stranger to the Perth dining scene, there has been a recent emergence in popularity of more traditional Japanese dining choices.

One such dining style is izakaya. Traditionally, izakaya establishments were after work drinking holes where patrons would be served alcoholic drinks along with small plates of share food. Perhaps the wave of tapas style dining has encouraged the concept of share dining in Perth but it certainly is a welcome addition (I personally see no other way to eat!).

I stumbled on to Restaurant Jun by surprise one day, when a colleague at a law firm I clerked in offered to take me out to lunch. She informed me that while they only served 4 or 5 one plate lunch specials, they did them well. And did they ever…I was so impressed with the Teriyaki Chicken set lunch that I decided to drag S and my mother (a harsher critic than myself) along for dinner the following week (and believe me it’s very difficult to impress me with Teriyaki Chicken….I  can only assume it is the “ham + cheese sandwich” equivalent of Japanese dining).

The entrance to Restaurant Jun is questionable but intriguing. If I hadn’t know about it I definitely would not have ever stumbled upon it as it is down an alleyway off the law courts end of Hay Street. Unlike Melbourne, I don’t particularly make it a point (nor recommend you) to venture down alleyways in Perth. 5 metres down the alleyway, a door to the right announces Restaurant Jun (Kushi-Yaki Restaurant). Enter it, step through the light beech doors and walk down the stairs. There you will find a small dining room reminiscent of 1980s Tokyo. It’s small and fashionably unpretentious with a row of tatami style dining tables on the left and a row of crammed wooden tables on the right. As with every good Japanese restaurant, you are pelted with a chorus of ‘irasshaimases’ upon entry.

I assume they have called it a Kushi-Yaki restaurant rather than izakaya as the place was BYO however the concept remains the same…plenty of small dishes…plenty of wooden skewers. As a side note, I recommend you purchase your drinks before arriving as the only bottle shop in the area was the basement of the Criterion Hotel aka the upper circle of hell. Upon my descent I crossed paths with a pram wielding teenage mother screeching ‘Oy love, youse drinkin’ f***in’ cruisers tonight or what?!’…Enough said.

Back to the restaurant, the menu was extensive with a page each dedicated to yakitori dishes (available with either tare (teriyaki) or shio (salt) seasoning), kushiyaki dishes, salads, rice balls and so forth. There was also a one page list of specials (about 20 or so further dishes) which included rare treaties such as imported smoked Toyko oysters. The gigantous choice in front of me obviously put me into a hyper ventilative state. I’ve never been good with the greed:stomach capacity ratio. I’m lucky S will eat anything in front of him therefore allowing me to choose as I please (the ugly aspect of being an only child…the inability to consider the wants of others).

After much angst we (or more so ‘I’) decided on the following:

  • Set of 7 yakitori
  • Agedashi Tofu
  • Green Salad with Seaweed
  • Buttered Corn
  • Deep fried crumbed Japanese Sausage
  • Pan fried scallops with asparagus in Miso Butter Sauce
  • Fried eggplant with Miso Paste
  • Grilled Japanese Atka Mackeral
  • 2 varietys of Rice Balls : Grilled Miso and Salmon Stuffed

The Garden Salad with Seaweed came out first and made a rightfully impressive entrance. Sitting in a deep fried basket of rice paper was the freshest looking assortment of sweet corn, seaweed and finely shredded cabbage I had ever seen. The dressing (a buttery miso based sauce) served on the side provided a beautiful mellow depth to the vegetables.

Next up was the eggplant…which was coated in the most delectably light batter and doused with a generous helping of miso bean paste. The soft cushiony texture of the eggplant with the robust salty paste was a nice contrast.

NB: Photo to come (my camera just had a fit and refuses to turn on…arrgh).

The tofu was next, and was equally impressive. I have previously found that Perth tofu can often be bland and flavourless (for you non-tofu eaters who claim all tofu is bland and flavourless…believe me there’s a difference). This however, had a nice subtle taste to it that made me suspect it was made in-house. The dish was topped with a generous serving of grated daikon (white radish) though my only criticism is that the sauce was not what I was normally used to. Previously, I have found agedashi tofu to be served swimming in a salty soy-like broth. On this occasion the sauce was sweeter and more viscous…lending me to coin it the teri-dashi tofu (a hybrid between the teriyaki and agedashi styles).

The buttered corn was particular enjoyed by S. The corn kernels were extremely sweet and paired well with the salty buttery miso sauce. They also make for an interesting challenge with the more chopstick-impaired users amongst us.

The Japanese Sausage wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. Though the batter was deliciously light I suspect the sausage itself was your humble frankfurter….hrrm ‘Japanese’ my ass! As S commented… “If I wanted a battered sav I would have gone to the royal show”…ouch!

The mackeral was up next and really made me feel like I had transported to a humble village eatery. It was simply grilled and served with daikon and a bottle of soy but its simplicity lended well to the charcoal flavours imparted no doubt by its time spent on the grill.

Both (rice) balls were a hit, achieving the perfect blend of silky and crispy rice.

The disappointment of the night unfortunately came in the scallops. Now I am a huge scallop fan…I once survived solely on a diet of scallop pies in Tasmania. I love biting into a perfectly cooked scallop….the firm flesh giving way to a luscious smooth middle. These however, were pitifully small and rather tough. In fact…my mother accused them of coming from a drain. S (who is the least fussiest person I know) even commented that he suspected they had been hole punched out of a stingray. Sigh. The asparagus and butter miso sauce were nice enough though (anyone see at trend emerging?).

Thankfully, the saving grace came in the form of the set of 7 yakitori. At $13, this was a bargain particular as I had paid over $28 for a similar set of lower quality not less than a week ago.

From left to right the choices were as follows:

  • Yakitori Chicken in Tare
  • Tsukune (chicken mince ball)
  • Torikawa (Chicken Skin)
  • “Chicken Soft Bone” (or in Japanese, Nankotsu , which I believe it is the breast bone cartilage of a chicken)
  • Pork Belly in Shio
  • Yakitori Chicken with Garlic Sprouts in Shio
  • Plain Yakitori Chicken in Shio

All of the skewers were highlights on their own. The chicken was soft and tender without too many fatty bits and the shio flavoured skewers were a surprising favourite (the saltiness was not overbearing and the chicken still moist despite a lack of sauce). Now I must make specific comment about the Chicken Soft Bone…. not normally something I would have picked….. it was definitely a texture I had never encountered before, springy and crunchy at the same time. Like a chicken flavoured crunchy bit of squid. Less moist. I wouldn’t say that it was mouthwatering as such but it was definitely fun to chew…..I don’t think I’ve ever described a food item as fun before!

By this stage we were as stuffed as the rice ball with salmon, in fact I even to resort to the discreet “under table pant unbuckle”.

My verdict? Amazing. For good honest and different Japanese food at incredibly reasonable prices ($60 for the above feast including corkage) I thoroughly recommend Restaurant Jun. In fact, I’m mentally elevating it to my list of top 3 Perth restaurants as I speak.

4 out of 5 Golden Spoons

$$

The service was a bit slow (in plate clearing etc.) so spoons have been taken off for that reason. That said, I assume its not the easiest to shimmy into a tatami area in a kimono.

Restaurant Jun
568 Hay Street
Perth
T: 08 9221 3339

Restaurant Jun on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: