Tuesday 15 March 2011

The Alphabet Dinners: D is for Don Tojo

In The Alphabet Dinners series, I review the cheap restaurants of Melbourne... in alphabetical order.

I had a slight problem in browsing the D section of the Age Cheap Eats for this week's review: once I'd removed all the bars, cafes and places not open on a Tuesday evening, there wasn't much left.

So by near default I was meeting my friends Craig and Julia at Don Tojo, a cheap Japanese place in Carlton. Not on the famous Lygon Street, however, but a block away on Cardigan Street where presumably the rents are cheaper.

It's easy enough for Carlton's many students to find, of course, and has an attractively simple and cheap menu.

The interior is interesting too - a big industrial-type space with art splashed across the walls.

To start, a Kirin beer. Not, frankly, Japan's greatest gift to the world - Kirin is like the Japanese equivalent of Fosters, mainstream and fairly tasteless. However, it's palatable enough.

Then the teriyaki chicken don. Didn't look that spectacular but was very good - subtle teriyaki flavour, nicely cooked chicken and sticky rice, zapped up a bit by the spicy orange sprinkly stuff in a bowl on the counter.

And then the weird stuff. I ordered the soba noodle salad as an intended side dish, and it was very curious indeed. Contained noodles, tofu, tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms, rockmelon, lettuce and kiwifruit. Interesting. You had to give it points for variety. Also looked quite healthy, all things considered.

A good restaurant for a cheap post-work meal, all in all. Its kitchens closed at 8.30pm so we slipped around the corner to the Carlton Yacht Club bar for a strengthening cocktail. Which cost as much as the whole meal at Don Tojo.

The Bill: $18
The Restaurant: Don Tojo, 164 Cardigan St, Carlton.

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