Gaijin Japanese Fusion Delight in South Yarra
Gaijin Japanese Fusion is a popular affordable Japanese restaurant in South Yarra that is full of soul and character and impresses with its playful top notch cuisine. Also check out our Best Japanese Restaurants in Melbourne.
With one of the highest ratings on Urbanspoon Gaijin serves up Japansese cuisine with a twist. The World Loves Melbourne was invited to sample the menu, particularly six standout dishes that have stood the test of time.
The word "gaijin" means "outsider" or "foreigner" - we wondered if this applies to the fusion cuisine. In any case Gaijin is open for dinner seven days a week, and is developing a presence in the CBD serving lunch.
The menu is extensive at Gaijin, at times playful with the fusion, and is unique in Melbourne. Try to find a list of places that are Japanese fusion (I can only think of a few). Gaijin shows flair and is happy to bring on the spice, with several dishes featuring its own spicy mayo. Gaijin also offers an "all you can eat" special from Monday to Thurday that has proved popular, featuring sushi and sashimi.
Gaijin impressed with the Big Bang dish, surprising due to the level of fusion, featuring crab stick enoki mushroom and cream cheese rolled in salmon slice then baked with spiced mayo. This dish was one of my favourites of the night. The inclusion of cream cheese was unusual but worked wonderfully. The balance of flavours is perfect with a hit of mushroom and salmon and the cream cheese bringing it together. The spicy mayo sets the dish off. A stunner.
Gaijin served up this Miso soy bean paste soup with tofu and seaweed which was more along traditional lines.
Being a soft shell crab tragic I was keen to try the Crispy soft sheel crab with deep fried soft shell crab served with tempura crunch, cucumber, and the Gaijin special mayo. The crunch was welcome and is a trademark of Gaijin. Crunchy soft shell crab was rewarding, with tempura providing the crunch.
Gaijin is one of the few restaurants I know with a relatively low staff turnover and consistency in the kitchen and in service. These chefs have been with the restaurant for several years and its given Gaijin some excellent momentum. The locals love this place and Gaijin often satisfies requests for functions, celebrations and even baby showers!
Fusion sushi rolls baby. Bring it on. Gaijin continued with the crunch and the spice with the Crunchy spicy salmon special. Not only is the raw salmon inside the sushi but is also placed on top for double effect. Again the Gaijin spicy mayo is unique and brings a wonderful spicy dimension. Served with wasabi and ginger on the side, I loaded up on spice and heat and loved the experience. I could really get into this crunchy theme.
Noted also is the quality presentation of the dishes on the plate. All the dishes we enjoyed were presented wonderfully.
I was understanding that Gaijin does sushi extremely well. The Tasmanian was a delightful fusion of cream cheese, avocado and crab stick wrapped with salmon slices, rolled with sushi rice and nori, then fried to perfection. With the fried element this dish becomes indulgent and filling. I was taken by this dish in terms of its interesting flavours and the overal balance. The sauce also set the dish off.
Gaijin is an attrative restaurant that is welcoming with warm colours and minimalist decor including select artwork, gold curtains at tables by the window, and a Hello Kitty doll. At night the ambience is intimate with candles.
Staff are friendly and the owners themselves take a hands on role in the restaurant. One of the owners Indira was on service the night I visited and was informative about the dishes and philosophy of Gaijin.
This was a night of indulgence. The Baked Dynamite was another crowd pleaser with California roll topped with diced scallop, crab stick and spicy mayo garnished with teriyaki sauce and green onion. The concept of a baked sushi dish was interesting and made me think of the comfort food of a pasta bake. In the same way this dish could be termed comfort food. Quality sushi with diced indulgence of the scallop and crab stick.
Gaijin then produced another highlight, the Spicy Pork Belly. Again the fusion came into play and this dish reminded me of similar dishes in Korean restaurants. The pork belly had a slight sweetness as well as the spice and was served with sesame on top. The pork had been well marinated and was melt in the mouth.
Gaijin serves impressive dessert fusion with this Black sesame panna cotta with coconut. The best of Italy and the best of Japan. Recently I enjoyed black sesame ice cream at a restaurant in Sydney and I love the black sesame flavour in dessert. This panna cotta had a wonderful creamy texture and the black sesame flavour was perfect, not overdone.
Also popular at Gaijin is the Greentea creme brulee, which is somewhat sweeter.
Gaijin is a restaurant we fell in love with and is a fun excellent dining experience at affordable prices. Highly recommended.