Ajitoya, 82 Charles St, Seddon. Phone: 9687 1027
Seddon Festival 2012, Harris Reserve, Seddon
Decisions, decisions …
The final cricket match of the season seen off, we are left with three delicious prospects for the remainder of our Saturday.
There’s the famed multicultural celebration called the Pako Festa in Geelong.
But a voluntary drive to that city when so many are mandatory means that idea is likely to remain a mere flicker of possibility.
There’s a more monocultural celebration going at the junction of Lonsdale and Russell streets in the Melbourne CBD.
But finally, especially given the rising temperature, we settle – much to Bennie’s satisfaction – on our local Seddon Festival.
A short, sweaty stroll up Gamon St and we’re there.
We’d already decided that in case the festival’s food offerings do not appeal that it’s best to have a Plan B ready to roll.
The fest food stalls seem more like snacky territory than the lunch proper we are desirous of.
Plan B is Ajitoya.
We had reviewed Ajitoya just a day or so after it opened, and have been back for a few meals since.
We’ve enjoyed seeing the place evolve and grow courtesy of soulful Facebook updates.
It’s time for another look.
Due to the heat and appetites of only medium stature, we stick with basic lunch orders rather than $16-21 sets.
Bennie had some weeks earlier absorbed my enthusiasm about the cold Japanese noodles served here so has no hesitation in ordering the zaru soba ($13).
He loves it to pieces, merrily dipping the superb noodles in the soy-based dipping sauce into which he has stirred wasabi and spring onion slices.
There is something paradoxically both exotic and plain as can be about this dish, and it’s a winner for sure on a hot day.
Can I tell you how much I love my son and what he’s achieving?
In recent months, he’s gone from being a non-lover, non-eater of capsicum and tofu to happily eating just about all forms of both – and has even taught himself to use chopsticks, as he does here!
His father improvises by ordering miso soup ($4) and a trio of salads ($9).
The miso soup is fine, the salads are something else again.
They are listed as …
Lightly shredded chicken salad with wasabi dressing.
Buckwheat soba noodles with pickled mustard greens, mayo and spice
Leafy hijiku with lightly fried tofu with daikon ginger vinaigrette.
OK … the chicken salad also has cabbage along with soy/tamari in the dressing; and the noodles have little or no pickle flavour, but do have a tingling chilli hit.
But I adore the way the three salads, and their distinctive dressings, work together – marvellous harmony!
This is another light and great meal for a hot day.
Ajitoya’s Adam tells me he’d have the whole counter cabinet chockers with salads if he had his way, but customer demand dictates sushi rolls remain a mainstay of the business.
I vote for more salads!
He also tells me he and Maya have learned to avoid too constant scanning of what different folk are saying about them at Urbanspoon. Yes, it can do a head in.
One customer, for instance, posted a review there on her mobile saying the food was fine, “but a bit pricey for what you get”.
Other customers have told them their prices are too cheap!
Looks, it’s true a short drive away you can get pho and the like for significantly less than you pay here.
At the same time, though, there are four places within a couple of blocks where you can pay quite a lot more for restaurant food.
Perhaps it’s the very cafe, if very chic, vibe or the display cabinet of sushi rolls that leads people to expect big serves for under $10 here.
Whatever … we have no issue whatsoever with the pricing, especially given the quality and presentation of the food, along with the service.
Ajitoya … don’t think of it as a cafe. This is a Japanese restaurant serving restaurant-quality Japanese food.
Back at the festival, the heat is killing and things don’t seem to have gotten any more lively.
The lawn expanses, subject to the full blast of the unrelenting sun, are unpeopled.
Shade is at a premium.
Everyone is doing it hard – including the panting inhabitants of the animal farm.
Even the music has a sort of desultory, “can we really be bothered with this?” air about it.
Nevertheless, we spend an enjoyable couple of hours taking it all in, talking to friends we meet and just generally hanging out.
Food-wise, we make do with a yummy $5 serve of churros with chocolate dipping sauce from the nice people at Sourdough Kitchen.