I like catching up with friends as much as possible on the holidays, because I barely have any time during the semester. Not to mention most of my friends are in different courses, so it makes catching up even harder. It is for this exact reason, that saw me going out for every single day last week.
How we came to Ito for lunch is quite interesting. Under the suggestion of a common friend of ours, we were heading towards Red Pepper. However, on that day the three of us were particularly famished. So we only made it half way up Bourke St before we succumbed to the numerous restaurants around us and just decided to go in and eat. So we eagerly grabbed a booth and sat down to browse through the laminated menu. Funnily enough, for a cafe that has “noodle” in its name, the 3 of us all ordered rice dishes.
It was reasonably cool that day and I was very very hungry so I went for the Curry Katsu with rice.
The serve came generously on a large, deep plate with thick beef curry sauce forming a pool on one side of the plate; chunky, crispy pork strips separating it from the rice. At first bite, I really loved this Katsu, because the pork was fried to a shattering crisp, but as I ate more I realized just how dry and overcooked the pork cutlet was. The beef curry sauce was meaty and comforting, I personally felt it was a little bit under seasoned, but I guess less sodium intake can only be a good thing. I do wish for fluffier rice and more pickles on the side to break up the richness though.
One of my friend really wanted grilled eel, but was discouraged away from the Una Don by the hefty price tag. So the next best thing was what she ordered.
Pieces of grilled eel glistening with marinade studded in the soft egg mixture came on top of steamed rice. She said it tasted nice. Though, having had a Japanese takeaway in the family before and used to stocking in eel for about $6 dollars per fillet. Now most restaurants serve up half a fillet of fish for each unagi don, that’s $3 for the fish, which I dare say is a bit of a rip off. Not to mention, this dish contained no where near half a fillet. Though having said that and having been in the restaurant owner’s shoes before, this is the current standard price of unagi being served and remember the owner has to factor in staff hiring, utilities, rent etc. as well.
My other friend ordered something quite similar to me – the Kastsu Don.
Her dish like mine, came with a generous cutlet of deep fried pork, but covered in egg gravy instead. I saw her reaching for the condiments on the table half way through her bowl, so I’m assuming that it was a little bit dull for her tastes. For $10.20 though, I think it was an above average Katsu don.
The waiting staff at Ito were sweet and soft-spoken, characteristic of a lot of Japanese restaurants. The waitress who served us was also extremely patient, taking multiple shots for us when we requested for a group photo which was an unexpected surprise. Overall, I feel that Ito it’s a little overpriced and the dons are just a little bit nicer than elsewhere. Being the poor student I am, I will be having a hard think before I return.