Eis Japanese Restaurant, Albert Park

Eis is a small Japanese restaurant in Albert Park, close to the famous Andrew's Burger joint and easily accessible by tram 1. I was lucky enough to be invited by head chef Hiro to try out some of their famous dishes, and had an enjoyable experience here.

The restaurant has a modern feel to it, with contemporary jazz music playing in the background and mood lighting. The seats are really comfortable and there are simple decorations on the wall; one side has a whole shelf of wine bottles, and the other a large wooden plank. The restaurant itself isn't very big, and at most seats about 30 people. The staff were attentive and friendly, though there was quite a bit of wait for our food to come, even though it wasn't busy at all when we went on a Friday night.

The two dishes that were offered on the house were the Crispy Chicken ($5 each) and the Grilled Half Cut Eggplant ($14), and we also ordered gyoza (7 pieces for $10), a sushi entree platter ($17) and the sukiyaki ($25) from the specials menu. Eis offers both contemporary and traditional japanese dishes, and there's a good range to choose from. The crispy chicken is a wrap served with cucumber, carrot and sweet soy sauce, and was like the Japanese take on the Chinese Peiking Duck Wrap dish. The skin was soft and chewy, thin enough to not overpower the rest of the elements but strong enough to make sure it didn't fall apart by the end. The chicken was really tender despite being quite a big piece, and had a lovely crispy skin on the outside. The addition of ginger in this wrap gave it that extra kick, and overall this dish made for a light way to start our meal.

The grilled half cut eggplant was served with a special miso paste and spring onion on top. Even for someone who isn't the biggest fan of eggplant, this was quite a good dish that was full of flavour, to the point though where it did become a little salty because of all the miso paste. However this may just be a personal preference, as my friend found it to be okay. The spring onion on top gave the dish a crunchy texture, which contrasted well with the softness of the eggplant.

The gyoza was different to what I'd expected, as the skin was purely crunchy instead of just being pan fried down the bottom. It was crispy and light though, and made for a good contrast with the meat filling and the crunchy cabbage. There was also a spicy sesame oil/soy dip on one side if you need more flavour, but I felt like the gyoza was good enough on its own.

The sushi entree platter came with five pieces of nigiri and two nori rolls; the nigiri consisted of two salmon, two tuna and one kingfish. Each had its own little topping on it for extra flavour, which was a really enjoyable additional and complemented the sushi to give it a bit more flavour. There was olives on one, ginger and spring onion on another, and sea salt as well. This wasn't something I'd had on nigiri sushi before, and I really liked it. The nori rolls were also a little different to typical sushi, as there were two types of fish within; salmon and tuna, together with the avocado and cucumber. The sushi came with a house made sauce made of 20% sake and bonito stock, making it more aromatic and flavoursome than just the usual soy sauce.

The sukiyaki consisted of thinly sliced beef with sweet soy sauce, chinese cabbage and tofu in a hotpot. There was a good portion to it though overall it was quite salty, and would've been good to have with rice to make it more filling and less salty. The beef was well cooked but not tough, and there were lots of cabbage, carrots and enoki mushrooms in it as well. This sukiyaki was more of a sauce base rather than a soup base which was what I'd thought it would be, which was why we didn't order any rice on the side to go with it.

From the service to the presentation and overall decor, there's a sense of sophistication to Eis that brings japanese dining to the next level. Because of this however, prices are a bit more on the higher side, though the quality of the food certainly makes up for it. Thank you again to Hiro for the invite!

Ambience: 8/10
Service: 8/10
Food: 8/10
Price: $$$

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