I’VE killed more bonsai than I’ve had hot dinners, so it’s probably just as well there were no mini-trees at The Bonsai Restaurant to get me thinking “maybe this time”.
The restaurant’s name was chosen to reflect a common bond between creating a beautiful bonsai or an authentic Japanese dish; both need intricate knowledge and skill to produce something that outwardly seems so simple.
“Each dish possesses the love and care of tradition and is innovated to excite the taste buds of the modern customer,” The Bonsai webpage says.
And excite the taste buds it did, so much so I was sorry we were heading to the theatre and didn’t have the leisure to explore more.
The hot, cold and fried share menu is perfect for sampling a wide range of dishes – all beautifully presented mini artworks of culinary delight.
My days of likening a dish of raw fish to sucking on worms has long gone, so I was keen to try the salmon sashimi on asparagus ($12.90).
The finely sliced fish was so tender it melted in the mouth, with a pleasant fresh taste and wonderful texture.
A small bowl of steamed rice was just the thing with the cajun squid ($14.50), tender spicy pieces sweetened with a garlic caramel soy sauce.
And the dishes kept coming, with the arrival of the soft crab tempura ($17.90), pan seared scallops ($20.80), beef asparagus ($16.90) and vegetable tempura ($14.50).
Looking like slender fingers the crab flesh was subtle and the batter crisp, and the wasabi mayo set it off to perfection.
The scallops were divine, the soft flesh making chewing superfluous and the karashi-su (a type of mustard) miso vinaigrette refreshingly zingy.
The vegetable tempura really showed off the talent of the chef, the vegetables perfectly cooked and the batter so light and crisp it was in danger of floating away.
The beef was thinly sliced and tender.
The dessert menu sounds equally amazing and I’d be up for trying the black sesame ice cream ($4).
But the bell was about to ring at the Blue Room Theatre so we bid a fond farewell to The Bonsai and its pleasant and efficient service, hoping for a return visit in the not too distant future.
by JENNY D’ANGER
The Bonsai Restaurant
30 Roe Street, Northbridge