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Canberra Today 1°/5° | Sunday, May 22, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Japanese food that takes a bow

Traditional Japanese dishes look like works of art and chefs spend many hours perfecting plating techniques, says dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON.

JAPANESE cuisine is known all over the world for its beauty, carefully considered combination of flavours and quality, fresh ingredients.

Wendy Johnson.

More Japanese restaurants are popping up in the capital, with one of the latest being Maji Japanese Cuisine in Campbell’s Koben Building.

One of our group isn’t a huge fan of raw food, but that didn’t matter because Maji offers plenty of cooked dishes, including the steamed pork Gyoza which was a real treat (five pieces for $12). This street-style food is inspiring and, at Maji, filling. The dipping sauce set our taste buds singing.

The prawn tempura was light and crispy (five pieces for $26) and delivered in a metal basket with a stunning shape. We also gave a massive tick to the Kani Korokke, crab croquettes with mayo (two pieces for $10). They were light and creamy. Next time we’ll try the soft shell crab tempura (two pieces for $28).

Although our one friend didn’t indulge, the rest of us worshipped the Wagyu beef, served with two styles of wasabi. The meat was cut slightly thick but melted in the mouth. The slices of Wagyu were delicately placed on long, green leaves and the dish decorated with a straw-type fan.

Craving more tempura, we ordered the vegetable mix (six pieces for $24), a combination of pumpkin, sweet potato and more.

We didn’t fall as deeply in love with the mains. Adventurous eaters who worship a fabulous pork belly, we ordered the gluten-free Miso Utane Buta. The stir-fried, sliced pork belly looked “beige” and not as inviting as the pretty starters. Although no doubt an “authentic taste of Japan”, we agreed the dish was also a bit bland on taste. Grilled options are on Maji’s menu (allow 45 minutes) and express lunches are available.

Maji Japanese Cuisine offers five sakes, including a sparkling (mix of cold and hot). Our Jozen Mizunogotoshi Junmai Ginjo was a winner and arrived in a gorgeous blue and white pouring bottle carefully placed in a matching bowl filled with hot water to keep the sake warm ($22 for 180 ml). Talk about style…

The wine list is limited (three reds, three whites, one sparkling) but reasonably priced. Our Madfish Gold Turtle Riesling was $12 a glass and $55 a bottle. Maji Japanese Cuisine is also happy with BYO.

Japanese-inspired lanterns are a feature of the light, airy, clean and contemporary fitout. The restaurant is enclosed with massive floor-to-ceiling windows, letting the sun in during the day. Lighting is adjusted at night for ambiance.

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Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson

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