Shinmai Tasty, 44 Edgewater Boulevard, Maribyrnong. Phone: 9317 3830
My first visit to Shinmai Tasty, the new Japanese eatery at Edgewater, was meant to be all about reconnaissance* – checking the joint out for a more in-depth subsequent look with more people on hand.
I had a lovely lunch, though to be truthful its three elements were enjoyed as something of a mixed bag – miso soup (OK but not great), bento (OK but not great) and dessert (sensational).
But there was something about the place and its happy, obliging staff that made me hasten about organising that return visit.
I felt a buzz of real excitement and an urgent desire to explore the menu in much greater depth.
That menu is a smartly devised two-page affair that runs fromh sushi and sashimi and starters through to salads, mains, bentos and dessert.
There are many classic dishes to be had and a few that appeal through unusuality.
But my excitement was based around more than that – it was and is also very much about the decor and the fabulous artwork.
The dining room is long, with one whole wall – opposite the bar/bench seating – adorned with two utterly gorgeous murals.
Normally, as regular readers well know, decor and artwork aren’t high on the CTS agenda.
But in this case they have massive impact, being wonderful eye candy on the one hand and bespeaking, on the other, a determination to provide an all-inclusive environment to enjoy eating Japanese food.
The art approach even extends to the loo (see below)!
Obviously, I am no expert on Japanese art of any kind, so I know not if this style of painting has a name. It’s not in the manga or anime style, though I do detect a connection with the settings portrayed in the Studio Ghibli films.
On to the food!
Here’s a round-up of what was tried over both visits – luckily I booked for the second, as it ended up with a group of seven (including myself) that made merry during a busy Mother’s Day lunch session.
Miso soup ($3.50 but served free with bentos) – very nice without being great, but certainly packed with lots of seaweed and very fine tofu cubes.
Nasu kara chips ($8.50) – just as well several serves of these eggplant chips were ordered as they proved a big hit and were, to my mind, stupendously fine.
The tempura batter was very good and the long eggplant strands within cooked to molten, delicious perfection.
Served with mayo and dusted with just the right amount of chilli powder.
A knock-out dish!
Edemame ($5) – salt-spirinkled soy beans, a nice snacky diversion for us all as we awaited our more serious, substantial fare.
Wagyu beef tataki ($16.50) – I am used to beef tataki variations being heavily marinated, very garlicky and (usually) served with a raw egg.
This was something different and lighter, the beautiful beef having something of citrus tang about it.
Good for sharing!
I tasted neither the agedashi tofu ($9.50) nor …
… the mixed tempura ($14.50), but the very happy recipient of both could hardly have been more emphatic in declaring both outright winners.
The sushi fan orderers of the mixed sushi/shashimi ($38) were a little underwhelmed.
Big tick for the sashimi; “indifferent” the word used to describe the sushi.
My soy udon soup chicken ($16.50) was superb, with super broth that was both delicate and robustly flavoured.
Along with the fat, slippery noodles and a goodly amount of seaweed, right there in the middle was a whole chicken thigh – a first for me, that I can recall, in a lifetime of eating soup noodles of various kinds.
I wondered how I was going to eat it – but it was so beautifully cooked, not to mention supremely tasty, that I had no trouble getting the meat from the bones.
On the first visit, I enjoyed the sashimi bento ($22.50) with its OK sushi, fine sashimi, very enjoyable sushi rice, seaweed salad, grapes and unmemorable salady bits.
That was mirrored in the second meal by various of my pals ordering bentos of the beef teriyaki ($20.50) …
… chicken teriyaki ($19.50) and …
… unagi (eel, $23.50) varieties, with their respective owners all happy with their lots.
First time around, I was presented with a complementary green tea brulee that I was, in any case, preparing to order!
I loved it then – so creamy and scrumptious, and an outright bargain at $5.90.
Those we ordered for our Sunday lunch were a little below that standard, being – to our collective mind – a little grainy in the texture department.
Still, I’d order it again in a heartbeat!
The green tea and hojicha (another variety of (roasted) green tea) ice-creams we are presented without ordering or paying were fine.
Why the complementary ice-cream?
Maybe because it was Mother’s Day, maybe because we were a largish group, maybe because they’d figured out a blogger/reviewer was part of that group.
I say the above merely to make clear that the mileage of individual patrons and groups may vary in this regard.
As, I hope, the above words make clear, not everything we tried at Shinmai Tasty unequivocally hit the spot.
But some dishes did just that.
We reckon this is a very welcome addition to the Japanese options available in the western suburbs and, in fact, fits in right nicely with the likes of Chiba, Ebi and Ajitoya.
Highly recommended, it is.
My heartfelt thanks to Liana, Dev, Christine, Julian, Eliza and Josh for enabling such an in-depth story!
*Haha – I can’t believe spelt that word correctly first time!