Melbourne Central Shopping Centre (Level Three), 211 Latrobe Street, Melbourne 3000
(03) 9663 1940
My friends currently have an obsession. Whenever I simply mention the name, their eyes light up. This obsession is Japas, the Japanese tapas and sushi train restaurant in Melbourne Central. Maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong places but when it comes to Japanese food in Melbourne, I’ve found that besides the odd sushi joint, it’s pretty sparse. So when we discovered the joy that is Japas, we were crazy happy.
While the sushi bar attracts many people, I’d recommend that unless you’re in a rush, it’s worth grabbing a table to take full advantage of Japas – particularly if you’re vegetarian. Many Japanese restaurants are a vegetarian’s worst nightmare, with nothing but eel this and raw fish that but not this place. Here, you can have the option of making your own sushi, choosing everything from whether your sushi is inside-out or not, what kind of sesame seeds are used, and most importantly, the fillings. My old favourite is the inside-out tofu inari, avocado and carrot sushi with Japanese mayo and black sesame seeds but I’ve heard good things from a friend about the egg filling. I should clarify that by “make your own sushi” I mean that you choose everything that goes in – you are not expected to suddenly turn into a master sushi chef. For $14.50, you get a generous serving with about twelve pieces. My biggest problem here is over-ordering. I always arrive starving and order my DIY sushi with two entrees, only to leave as an amorphous blob filled with rice and tofu.
But the entrees are nothing to sniff at. Each one is $6.80 each and my recommendations are the agedashi tofu (tofu deep-fried in a soy sauce and spring onion broth), the sumo balls (balls of sticky rice flash-fried and served with honey-soy sauce) and the shichimi fries (thick chips seasoned with chilli and served with wasabi mayo). While the last two are not strictly Japanese, the western influence makes for a more unique and interesting meal, and one that certainly satisfies. Indeed, nothing about Japas is particularly authentic. The menus are filled with cutesy drawings of anthropomorphised edamame beans and sushi and despite the television that always shows some odd Japanese documentary about farming or octopus, you always get the feeling that this is a Japanese restaurant for Australians. Not to mention that the chocolate mousse that features on their menu is the least Japanese dessert in the world.
But, if you can look past the lack of authenticity, it’s good eating.
- Taste: 8/10
- Nutrition: 8/10
- Atmosphere: 8/10
- Cost: 7/10
- Convenience: 8/10
- Overall: 39/50