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Canberra Today 10°/15° | Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Chop, chop… and it’s time to go!

Pan-fried chicken gyoza. Photo: Wendy Johnson

The first thing to do when entering Chop Chop in the city is look up, writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON.

The ceiling is covered with masses of cherry blossoms (artificial but beautiful nonetheless). 

Wendy Johnson.

It’s part of a funky décor that features bright-coloured, street-style artwork and a neon sign sporting the slogan “Save Water, Drink Beer”. At Chop Chop the interior design is all about fun. 

We landed at lunch and shared dishes created with traditional Japanese ingredients in a contemporary way. Dishes were artfully presented and tantalised the tastebuds.

The Nori taco was sensational ($14 for two pieces) and a gorgeous combination of salmon, kingfish, tuna and avocado salsa. Also from the raw bar section of the menu, we enjoyed the Wagyu Tataki, with the beef (marble grade 6+) rapidly seared on the outside and served on an enticing orange ponzu sauce with ever-so-thin slices of onion decorating the dish ($16 for 100 grams). The marbling made the meat, which delivered exceptional flavour and tenderness.

Tempura fans shouldn’t bypass the wasabi prawn tempura ($18 for six pieces). The batter was as light as a feather and the creamy wasabi mayo the right balance – certainly not punchy enough to overpower the sweet prawns. The prawn rice toast is another winning dish, with the toast made with crispy stick nori rice and semi-dense as a result ($15 for six pieces). 

Served on a plate the shape of a fan were six pan-fried chicken gyoza (six pieces for $13) with earthy mushroom tones. The ponzu sauce – a classic Japanese condiment – was vibrant and bright. The dumplings were super moist and a perfect consistency.

For our veg hit we selected the grilled eggplant ($18), stunning with a shiny miso glaze. Teeny slices of bright green were sprinkled on top of the thick slice of eggplant and dancing about were crunchy bits of onion. Thankfully, the eggplant wasn’t too firm or too mushy.

If you can’t decide, select Chop Chop’s “Feed Me” menu and let the kitchen take care of matters ($55 per person).

The music at Chop Chop – at least on our visit – was a bit over the top for lunch and very loud. Pearl Jam rockin’ it at a high volume was a bit much given Chop Chop wasn’t super busy and didn’t have a lot of bodies to absorb the noise. Staff thankfully obliged when we asked for the music to be turned down. 

Service was efficient but far from overly friendly (one wait staff member was semi-inviting; the other not at all so). It’s a shame because it influenced our overall impression. We also felt rushed out the door at the end of lunch – a bit of “chop chop, away you go” because we’re closing in 10 minutes.

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Ian Meikle, editor

Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson

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