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Chocolate Buddha – Melbourne

April 6, 2010

Melbourne
Ramen.

Some friends and I decided to take a short trip to Melbourne over a weekend, to celebrate S’s 25th birthday. Always the meticulous planner – S had devised a detailed and intricate itinerary for us to follow during our 4 days there. But whereas most people’s travel itineraries would cover the various sights and attractions they plan on seeing and visiting, ours covered only two things: where to eat, eat, EAT and where to drink. No wonder we are such good friends.

Yeah I know – the old Sydney vs Melbourne debate. I won’t even begin to get into that. Let’s just say there are places I like to eat and drink in Sydney, and happily after this brief excursion to our southern neighbour – there are places I like to eat and drink in Melbourne too… even if the places are a bit harder to find, and are a bit smaller and darker-… oh, pardon me! – have a bit more ambience than I am used to (never before have the lowlight capabilities of my D90 been tested so rigorously!)

OK, so first up! Off the plane – rush rush into a taxi, quickly drop off our bags at the hotel, cross the road into Fed Square, and it’s off to Chocolate Buddha!

Chocolate Buddha is a Japanese restaurant in Federation Square. It has big long communal tables – and on a warm night like this one, it’s really pleasant to sit outside and sip sake in the glow of Fed Square’s giant screens.

Chocolate Buddha
Menu at Chocolate Buddha

But, to business! The menu is helpfully divided into sections. All your usual favourites like ramen, udon, katsu-don and sashimi are all there – as well as a section called “Zensai” or Light Dishes. In there you find little share plates of things like edamame, agedashi tofu and tempura. A nice thing I saw was that they had a separate page for menu items that are gluten free, or could be made gluten free.

I was surprised at how reasonable the prices were, on the whole – for a restaurant with such prominent real estate. A bit pricier than your neighbourhood Japanese restaurant, but not too bad for somewhere quite trendy. But having said that, I was going to order some edamame, but baulked at the $7.50 price. Maybe they would have been the best, freshest edamame beans I’d ever eat – I will never know – but I couldn’t help thinking of the frozen bag I could have gotten at home for around $4.

In the end, I chose the easy way out and got a Bento box, so I could try all the different titbits.

Dinner at Chocolate Buddha
Bento Box – $28

It was really delicious! And from the little details like the perfectly matched line of carved bamboo skewers, you could tell each item was prepared with care.

The yaki gyuniku (grilled beef skewers) was my favourite! Really juicy and soft. The nigiri was good, and the tori tatsuta (ginger and teriyaki chicken, dusted in potato flour and deep fried), was deliciously crunchy. Plus, it all came with a generous serving of wasabi mayonnaise. My favourite!

Dinner at Chocolate Buddha
Nigiri in my bento box

Looking around the table, everyone seemed very happy with their meals. J was busy slurping away at his ramen,

Ramen
Gyu Ramen – Chilli marinated beef slices char-grilled & served w vegetable dumplings, swiss chard, bean sprouts, chilli sauce in a ramen noodle soup – $19.80

M seemed happy with his Teriyaki Gyu Don,

Dinner at Chocolate Buddha
Teriyaki Gyu Don – grilled sirloin glazed w teriyaki, served w braised onions, swiss chard & pickles over steamed rice – $19.80

And A was very happy with his sashimi platter, which was beautifully presented

Dinner at Chocolate Buddha
Small Sushi and Sashimi Platter – $24

Lastly, the group ordered a few bottles of sake to share.

Dinner at Chocolate Buddha
Fukuju “Frozen Plum Sake” 150ml bottle – “A delightful sweet sake in the form of a “slushy” refreshing & crisp” – $18

Dinner at Chocolate Buddha
Hoshino Nagare Happo ‘Sparkling Sake’ – 7% 300ml bottle – A refreshingly sweet
sparkling pure rice sake – served cold $21

I don’t usually drink sake, but I would make an exception for these two!

A great start to a great trip!

Chocolate Buddha
Federation Square
(In the ACMI Building)
Melbourne, VIC

Ph: (03) 9654 5688

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2010 11:02 pm

    After reading this post, the bars of images on my browser are still only 3mm thick…

  2. April 7, 2010 9:38 am

    The colours in these photos dance off the screen!

  3. April 8, 2010 5:35 pm

    Yeah… Boo… Love the words though.

    So far I’ve seen half the photos! 😛 Maybe a few more days and I’ll see this post in full!

  4. August 10, 2010 4:54 pm

    If the food tastes anything as good as the pictures look then it must have been amazing!

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