There’s no shortage of fast and cheap Japanese restaurants in Melbourne, but even with some fierce competition, Kaneda stands out. Crowded into the tiny mid-city arcade opposite Pancake Dessert House, there is a frequent flow of customers, especially during the afternoons from 330pm to 530pm, where you can pick up a bento box, a bowl of Japanese noodles or various other snacks for cheap. For a small group of people of people, the restaurant is always a winner, especially as when people ask ‘We are we going to eat?”, you can reply with “Kaneda” and watch the looks of confusion on their faces.
With a large variety of dishes on offer, it’s hard to pick just one. Thankfully, there’s something for everyone and the waiters are not pushy (unlike in some busy places). As I was here this time around for an early dinner, I decided against ordering my usual entrée of takoyaki. The dish here is not the best I’ve ever had, but it’s certainly not the worst, being nice and hot with a good amount of octopus. I ended up ordering the pork bento box for just under $10.
Pork Bento Box
The fried chicken was crispy, and while it was better than most chicken that comes in a bento box, it still didn’t quite live up the standards set by many of the Korean restaurants dotted around the city. I was a little dubious to the freshness of the sashimi, but by that stage it didn’t matter because the main dish, the pork, was tender and tasty and I ended up mopping up the juices with the rice because I couldn’t get enough of the sauce!
My friend ordered the eggplant bento box.
Eggplant Bento Box
The tempura vegetables were delicate and not too oily, and the seaweed salad tasted exactly as expected, and therefore both were quite good in my opinion. The standout was of course the eggplant itself. It was cooked to perfection, having that slightly mushy texture, yet was still juicy and flavoursome, with the garlic accenting the dish without overwhelming it.
This is definitely a great destination for lunch, or an early dinner. With such a small space to work in, Kaneda tends to get very crowded, so unless you like the crammed-in feeling, it’s best to avoid going during peak times.
Kaneda Japanese Restaurant
Mid City Arcade, 200 Bourke St, Melbourne