If you have ever been out with work colleagues or the mates, chances are you’ve hit up a Japanese pub or restaurant for some sushi on the night. Japanese restaurants and izakaya have steadily risen in popularity since their explosion onto Melbourne’s culinary scene in the 1980s. In fact, cookbook author Jane Lawson had this to say about the lovely expansion of Japanese-style pubs in Carlton.
As with the cultural roots of many immigrants, it is best to think of three general waves or “inflection points,” where Australia undeniably benefitted from migration: 1850s gold rush, post WW-II movement, and Post-Vietnam war revisions to awful, outdated, discriminatory immigration laws. Following the revision of these immigration laws, Asian immigrants finally had a chance to make a valuable impact on Melbourne’s culinary culture.
However, even in the post-WWII 50s, Japanese restaurants in Carlton only catered to businessmen who flew in from Japan with literally no familiar food options to eat. It took South Vietnam’s collapse in the 70s, which saw a flood of refugees from Asian countries, to elevate Asian cuisine around the Outback. Immigration laws were finally fixed. By the 1980s, the Japanese tech miracle had reached Aussie shores, bringing with it the riches of Japanese culture – including their yummy sushi delights.
While barely a single Aussie had tasted Japanese food for 50 years, learning how to use chop sticks now is a matter of cosmopolitan status; it means you can hang with the mates at the local Izakaya.
Aside from sit-down places, don’t count out the quality of Japanese pub food. Izakayas are in fact Japanese pubs, so it makes sense that Aussies would love a spot to enjoy sushi, sake, and a game. Check out some perfect meals to go with your beer and sake below!
Prawn and Chicken dumpling Gyoza
Don’t be thrown off by the unfamiliar name! Japanese gyoza is just a form of refined dumpling that can be boiled, deep fried, or pan fried. The filling, made of delicious marinated meat, veggies, and more, is more finely chopped as well. An absolute treat and perfect pick for game night!
Usually made for lunch, bento boxes are perfect little to-go meals that portion out fish or meat with veggies and a salad. However, bento boxes are fun because of their aesthetically beautiful and tidy presentation along with the options to customize your own box. For those you like to choose every ingredient placed in your meal, go with a to-go Bento box.
Prawn Dashi Ramen
With soup made from chicken, pork, beef, and shellfish bones, Japanese ramen is considered a worldwide phenomenon. If you like chicken soup, you like Japanese ramen, it’s that simple. This special prawn version relies on the proximity to fresh seafood for Japanese restaurants in Carlton. Check it out!
Japanese Wagyu Curry Udon
Served at Japanese restaurants all over Carlton, Japanese Udon uses a flat thick noodle soaked in dashi broth, which is made of special Japanese veggies. It serves as the soup base for miso, as well. However, this udon version adds soy sauce and mirin to it, giving a whole new flavor. This local version also includes bone beef broth in the soup, so please enjoy one of the highest quality wagyu beef options on the Melbourne market.
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