Thursday 30 August 2007


L: No cheers, only jeers for this Japanese establishment on the designer end of Chapel Street. Perhaps the name should be changed to “Yung sing” or “Gom bui”, considering how strangely Chinese it all tastes.

Flavours, a purely hypothetical chance encounter with a chef in the john and see them walk out without washing their hands, not quite right they were. Speaking of toilets, putting down the seat in a lady’s household, the veggies of peas, carrots and broccoli in the oyako-don, a considerate, token gesture but did not distract from the fact that it a very un-Japanese sauce blend that was too heavy on the soy. Maybe this excess spilled over, as it was perplexing why the rice in the unagi-don was seasoned unnecessarily with soy, perhaps to hide the eel’s lack of usual sweet kabayaki and smokey goodness. Bleached white and crumbed tonkotsu halted the procession of mediocrity, though not exactly tender but at least they got right bottled tonkotsu sauce.

However, price correctness didn’t exist as you certainly don’t get what you paid for. Had these meals been half what we paid, least that cash saved could’ve been spent over a few quiet beers at Bridie’s to kanpai something more deserved.

1 / 5 yums!

W: Stepping into the smoky surrounds of Chapel St's Kanpai, the soft greeting from a friendly maitre'd hints you might be being prepared for a ride. Our noses are delighted by the smell of barbequed teriyaki flavors with the familiar hint of soy, mirin, sake and sugar. Peering over the benches, we can barely catch a glimpse of a man dressed as the Itamae (sushi chef) layering sliced prawns onto small shapes of vinegared rice. Squeezed onto an izakaya size table, the comforting menu had the reliable favorites -dons, -ramens, -udons, -sobas. Could this be a hidden secret?

A suspicious sense things were not right were hinted when I placed my first order. "Oyakodon" - tender chicken pieces fried into a wet egg on rice. The waitress stares blankly back at me. After a few trades of finger jabs at the menu and more blank stares, my order.

This house of cards collapsed around the first bite. I couldn't help but remark Phillip J Fry's words when he remarked "This is the saltiest thing I've ever tasted, and one time I ate a bowl of salt". Searching to quench from a glass of water, I catch the inattentive wait staff busily uninterested and chatting... in Cantonese. Looking back down, I lifted the egg to reveal a chicken giblet mess of peas? carrots? snowpeas? While Zhang Zi Yi may have been successfully casted as Sayuri in Memoirs of a Geisha, this Pan-Pacific mash-up has only one possible verdict. Failure.

We sure were taken for a ride and show a hidden secret that night. This place gets 1 out of 5.

A: In T's regrettable words - "Lets go to Kanpai, the waiter looks hot" - on closer inspection she really wasn't..

That same sequence of events best describes the food at Kanpai.

Good from afar, but far from good.


Where? 569 Chapel St, South Yarra, VIC

What? Average Main $15

Left to Right : Tonkotsu, Oyako-Don, Unagi-Don

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