Japanese is one of my favourite cuisines and I think Ajisen is a great place to go for a variety of Japanese dishes, including ramen, bento, donburi, as well as an assortment of entrees and drinks. It's not the most authentic Japanese restaurant, but it does have the most variation of dishes to choose from. I've been to Ajisen over four or five times now, and have been happy with the dishes every time.
Having been to both the Melbourne Central and Hawthorn Ajisen Ramen stores, I felt it was quite similar, though obviously the MC store is much larger with more staff. The layout of the restaurants makes it well suited to group gatherings and there are various large tables that can cater up to about twelve plus people.
This review is based on the Hawthorn Ajisen Ramen, though the CBD one was quite similar in general. We ordered a couple of entrees as well as individual dishes, including a 'samurai combo' which included a ramen, entree and drink of choice for the price of the ramen plus $5.50. This is a really good deal in my opinion, as most of the entrees are about $5 or more, and a drink about $3-$4. Our dishes included a large serving of Salmon Sashimi ($16 for 15 pieces), Gyoza ($7), Tonkatsu Ramen (Ramen with fried pork, $11), Miso Chayshu Ramen ($11.50), Chargrilled Beef Ramen ($12.50), and a junior size Kimchi ChaHan (fried rice, $6.50).
The salmon felt quite fresh, though was slightly chewy for some slices. They were presented very nicely, wrapped around sliced radish and topped with the Japanese marinated ginger and wasabi. The gyoza was lovely and crunch on one side and the skin was a good thickness, not too thin or thick.
The ramen is all of a pork based soup stock, with lots of flavour, albeit slightly on the salty side for the miso one. Each ramen dish comes with half an egg and vegetables on the side, and for the chargrilled beef ramen, you could decide how well you wanted the beef to be cooked. The tonkatsu in the ramen had a really thin layer of batter covering the thin slices of pork, which was cooked nicely with crunchy batter. The Kimchi fried rice was also very flavoursome, and not too spicy, and there was a surprisingly large portion considering it was only a junior size.
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