I find it quite hard to be really impressed by Japanese or Korean barbeque places (Korean even more so as I haven't really learnt how to appreciate the cuisine yet), as it doesn't seem to be a terribly difficult feat to provide good quality produce for a customer to cook on their own. If it comes up burnt, the kitchen has nothing to worry about as of course, they didn't cook it.
Although I can certainly see the novelty charm of such places and why it would be nice on a cold night out, to have your fingers wiggling over the hot coal, catching the steam and warmth wafting up.
Maedaya fortunately, for being known for their Japanese barbeque, also have the option of sitting downstairs and just having the Japanese 'tapas' so that you don't end up smelling of smoke. Although if that is more your thing, there is a space upstairs where groups can gather and make merry with meat.
It is also a sake bar, with a very extensive sake list and bottles lined up all over the walls, showcasing the wares. Maedaya does have elements which remind me quite a bit of Izakaya's I've visited in Tokyo, with it's darker somber tones, lots of wood and well, I don't remember there being a lot of rope, but it somehow emanates a Japanese feel.
Before I continue.
NOOOOOOOO. I forgot my 50mm this night. So I was stuck with my 18-70mm lens which doesn't create as pretty photos. But I suppose it does the job.
Upon being seated by our friendly Japanese waiter, we were given these. YUM and YUM again. Lotus root chips essentially which were salty and perfect for dipping in with...I forgot the sauce. But it was yummy. Was very tempted to order more.
Being the alcoholic I am (really I'm not. I'm Asian, my liver can't handle more than two drinks), I ended up having two different drinks that night. Couldn't resist an umeshu and we naturally had to get some sake to share. I love the massive variety of sake...jugs? Is that the right terminology for them? But anyway, I love the huge variety of sake serving jugs that I seem to have come across in Melbourne. There's just something quaint about the ceramic and different shapes they come in.
And I want all of them. Hmmmm.
The menu is seriously intense. In all it's A2, tri-fold spread goodness, if you couldn't find something that interested you here, I'd be a little worried. It was all a bit much for Brad and I to take in initially and it did take us ages to order. They have everything from yakitori, lots and lots of barbeque stick-esque tapas, some sushi, some hot entrees, some cold entrees, meat, fish...the list kind of goes on. But I did find it was mostly quite traditional and typical Japanese food, it didn't get too 'fusion' which you tend to see in a lot of Japanese restaurants, and kept it simple and honest.
But we eventually have to choose something right? Or I may as well just start chewing off Brad's ear instead.
We decided to go with a variety of things and started with this, I think it was called something along the lines of the Maedaya Sumiyaki set, a little bit of everything from the grill. I can't remember everything that was there, but there was definitely chicken which was quite excellent, bacon and cheese (how can you fail?!) and a few other lovely protein things. It was a nice way to start the night, they were all piping hot and not over cooked.
I got this extra as it was intriguing me so much, I just had to try it. Bacon wrapped around mochi, yeah that sticky rice stuff that's usually used as dessert. It certainly was a bit different, but nothing that overly excited me, the texture of the sticky mochi was a weird mix to have with the bacon, but other than the texture it did absolutely nothing for flavour and left me wishing there was just a little bit more to it.
Did the healthy thing, had a salad. We both really enjoy seaweed salads though, I love that this came out nice and cool, and even though it had some regular salad leaves, there was a whole lot more seaweed at the bottom of the bowl. Not usually too enamoured when they buffer up a tiny bit of seaweed on a whole lot of salad, at least they don't do it here!
Next up was a serving of soft shell crab. I can't remember exactly how much this was, but I thought it was amazingly priced. Around $5 or $6 for the whole thing I think? It was literally one crab, split into two pieces, so that I don't have to squabble with Brad over it. I thought this was absolutely great value though, the crab was delicious and hot, with a bit of crunch but quite a lot of meat as well.
Because one can never have too much meat (this might be a lie), we also decided to get the ox tongue. Served on a black hot plate, spitting away as it reached the table, this was also a nice dish to have on a cool night. The tongue was tender and not chewy at all and well seasoned.
We then finished our night with a serve of green tea and black sesame ice-cream. Not much to say. It's ice-cream, and two of my favourite flavours (although I have a lot of favourites....).
I would more than happily come back here any night, even though I am not a fan of the whole barbeque set up, I did like that downstairs I could have my wide variety of Japanese 'tapas' (maybe next time will get some agedashi tofu...) and of course, a whole lot of sake. I also feel that Maedaya is quite reasonably priced, our total meal coming to about $60 if I'm not mistaken, including drinks. Whilst it may not have looked like a lot, we were very comfortably full.
So good hearty food, impeccably friendly service and a completely unpretentious and relaxed vibe made for a very pleasant night of dining.