Dining / Decent Japanese at decent prices

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Salmon sashimi…beautifully presented, the pinkish flesh contrasting with a black, interesting-shaped plate.   Photo: Wendy Johnson

“The dishes at Ogawa came out randomly. We would have preferred to build flavours and start with the carpaccio but it came out last. Certainly not the end of the world,” writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON

IT was a crisp Sunday and four of us were off to Ogawa in Gungahlin. 

Wendy Johnson.

We hopped on the tram in Civic, wandered around the Marketplace area and then settled in to Ogawa for some casual Japanese dining. 

Ogawa is a compact restaurant – black and red décor, warmed up with a wooden feature wall along one entire side. The kitchen is open although the dividing wall means you can’t really see the action.

It was our first visit and we weren’t disappointed. This is decent Japanese at very decent prices. Think sushi, sashimi and izakaya.

The salmon sashimi was beautifully presented, the pinkish flesh contrasting with a black, interesting-shaped plate. It melted in the mouth ($14.90 for eight pieces). Also mouthwatering was the snapper carpaccio, which also looked delightful on a blue and white patterned plate. It was translucent and the white soy sauce it was plated in was memorable ($16.90).

One of our party is an “age-dashi tofu fan” and this dish was a must ($8.90). She gave it a thumb’s up, enjoying every bite of the deep-fried silken tofu that was swimming in dash soy.

Tempura vegetables… the batter was light and the vegetables not overcooked. Photo: Wendy Johnson

The assorted vegetable tempura ($12.90) didn’t disappoint. The batter was light (one of our party thought it could have been just a tad lighter) and the vegetables not overcooked.

Besides the carpaccio, our next fave dish was the deep-fried chicken katsu ($16.90). The chicken thigh was exceptionally moist and the crumbed coating exceptionally crunchy. The fresh slaw salad on the side was a generous serve and the dressing not overpowering. The dish is served with fluffy rice and earthy miso.

Deep-fried chicken katsu… moist chicken thigh with an exceptionally crunchy. Photo: Wendy Johnson

Ogawa is fully licensed and BYO ($5 corkage per person). Off the menu, you can select a house red/white by the glass ($7). Plum and rice wines also feature, as do a small selection of sake, Japanese bottled beers and playful Soju.

The dishes came out randomly. We would have preferred to build flavours and start with the carpaccio but it came out last. Certainly not the end of the world…

The service could be smartened up. We had trouble communicating with the person who served us (she had to keep calling someone out from the kitchen for help) and we had to ask for some basics, such as plates and cutlery, after the first dish came out of the kitchen.

Still, if in the area, we would definitely return. 

Ogawa, 54-56 Ernest Cavanagh Street, Gungahlin. Open seven days for lunch, dinner and izakaya (times vary).

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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