Kenji, Camberwell

Kenji is a Japanese restaurant located in Camberwell just before Warrigal Rd on Toorak Rd, in a small alleyway with a couple of other cafes/shops. It's easily accessible by tram 75, and there's also plenty of parking behind the alleyway if you're driving. I had actually been meaning to come here for awhile now as one of my friends had highly recommended it, but they were undergoing renovations at one point. I was really happy with my experiences here and would love to come back again to try some of their other dishes.

The interior design of Kenji is quite simple, with Japanese inspired decorations on the walls such as bamboo rows and artwork, and there's also lots of Japanese paper lights that makes the whole place feel bright. Soft jazz music plays in the background for a comfortable and cosy atmosphere. There's an authenticity to the place with a sushi bar on one side that you can sit at, and watch the chefs prepare your dishes right in front of you. The staff were really friendly, coming over to take our order quite promptly. However as the food we ordered was freshly made, it did take a little longer to come out.

Kenji focuses more on bento boxes, dons and freshly made sushi and sashimi; there's a large range to choose from, though I don't think there were actually any soup noodle dishes on the menu. We decided to share everything between two of us, and ordered the sukiyaki beef don ($10.50), an entree size gourmet sashimi set ($22 for 12 pieces), and the house special gourmet rolls ($14.80 for 6 pieces). We also each ordered a small green tea thickshake ($2.80). The thickshake had really good, strong green tea flavour, and you could also taste the vanilla icecream quite distinctively, which made it slightly sweet when you had it by itself. However with the rest of the food, it went really well.

The sukiyaki beef don consisted of rice and thinly sliced beef with a teriyaki egg sauce. Don is short for donburi, and is a rice bowl dish consisting of fish or meat and vegetables simmered together and served over rice. Both my friend and I felt that this beef don was slightly dry as there wasn't really any sauce in it at all, which made all the rice and beef a bit difficult to eat. The beef itself was also a little on the dry side and had a slightly chewy texture.

The gourmet sashimi set consisted of a range of fish, cuttlefish, scallops and prawns, and was presented in a small boat with ginger and wasabi on the side. It was a really enjoyable dish and everything was really fresh, and the soft fishes pieces contrasted with the more chewy texture of the cuttlefish slices. As with most sashimi dishes, the seafood pieces taste even better when dipped in the soy sauce and wasabi combination for a hint of saltiness mixed with the slight spice from the wasabi. Be careful not to mix too much wasabi into your soy sauce as this can get really spicy and gives your nose quite an unpleasant burn that often leaves you tearing up!

The house special gourmet sushi rolls consisted of tuna, yellow tail, prawn and cucumber, wrapped in fresh salmon slices. This was also a really enjoyable dish that had a great range of fish in it, and the use of the cucumber gave it a nice crunchy texture that balanced out the soft fish and rice. I would definitely recommend trying this dish if you visit Kenji, as it's not something you'd usually get - it's sort of like eating a sushi roll and a nigiri at the same time because it's wrapped in the salmon.

I'd definitely come back to Kenji again to try some of their other sushi and sashimi dishes, or even the bento boxes. Everything is really cheap and affordable - I was surprised at how little we had to pay considering we ordered quite a few dishes between the two of us. As with all Japanese places, you feel satiated by the end of the meal, but not to the extent of being really full and not being able to move. A great little Japanese restaurant that's worth trying if you're in the area, though it is closed on Mondays and Sundays.

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