Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Taste Test - The Bonsai Restaurant & Cafe Lounge

Tonight, hubby, my little sister-in-law and I went to The Bonsai Restaurant and Café Lounge for a quick Wednesday night dinner.

We were greeted by the manager as soon as we walked in and was quickly shown to our seats by one of the wait staff.  I have been to The Bonsai Restaurant and Cafe Lounge many times before but sister-in-law has not, so I was delegated the job of choosing all the tapas style dishes while hubby and her chose the mains.


Our order
  • Chicken Salad (cabbage julienne, Swiss chard leaf, mizuna, coral lettuce, tat-soy, and our very own crispy chicken dressed with balsamic-soy and aioli) plus crispy wonton skin $15.80
  • Salmon Sashimi Bites (sashimi-grade salmon tartare placed on witlof leaves dressed with aioli; best eaten by the mouthful) $13.90
  • Wagyu Beef Tataki (seared premium wagyu beef rump cut into thin slices and dressed with garlic soy caramel sauce and whole grain mustard vinaigrette; witlof and leek julienne with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to finish) $15.90
  • Beef Asparagus (thinly sliced MSA grade scotch fillet beef, wrapped around asparagus and pan fried; served with caramel soy and tomato relish) $16.90
  • Tsukune Chicken Steak (specialty Japanese chicken-mince steak in teriyaki sauce, served with a side of homemade guacamole and cherry tomatoes) $21.90
  • Honey Soy Pork Ribs (pan fried pork spare ribs coated with our own caramelised honey and soy sauce, served with seeded mustard) $27.90

Hubby still hungry so we ordered
  • Unagi Sushi (Japanese BBQ eel and cucumber dressed with aioli and caramel soy) $8.90

Dessert
  • Green Tea Ice Cream $4
  • Black Sesame Ice Cream $4

Food and presentation - 3.5/5
The food at The Bonsai Restaurant and Café Lounge has never disappointed and tonight was nearly no exception .  The dishes are always exploding with flavour which is fantastic but I do think sometimes you end up losing the ability to differentiate one dish from another.  My stand out dishes are the chicken salad (make sure you pay $1 extra for the crispy wonton skin) and salmon sashimi bites.  Their beef tataki was also nice but the sauce was a bit too sweet for me. 
Salmon Sashimi Bites $13.90
Wagyu Beef Tataki $15.90
Chicken Salad $14.80
Beef Asparagus $16.90
I have to say that I'm not a big fan of their main course dishes (which I don't usually get) but tonight we ordered two of their mains.  The pork ribs were nice but nothing special and I didn't really like the chicken steak because of the texture (not a big fan of steak made of mince) and also I wasn't a big fan of the sauce. 
Honey Soy Pork Spareribs $27.90
Tsukune Chicken Steak $21.90
Hubby was still hungry so we ordered a serve of unagi sushi which was quite yummy.  Although The Bonsai Restaurant and Café Lounge is a Japanese restaurant, hubby commented that he didn't feel like he just had a Japanese meal and I agreed.  So if you are wanting some traditional Japanese food, this isn't the place for you but if you are looking for contemporary Japanese inspired dishes then give them a try.
Unagi Sushi $8.90
Green Tea and Black Sesame Ice Cream $4 each
Service - 3.5/5
They were not very busy tonight so the wait staff seemed to be watching us like hawks most of the time.  As soon as we finished a dish, one of the wait staff would be over to clear it away which may seem like good service, but it actually felt a bit pushy.  Funnily enough, when we actually needed a wait staff they seemed to have all disappeared and we had to wait for one to appear.  All the staff were polite and smiled but not overly friendly (except for the manager who was quite friendly). 

Atmosphere - 3.5/5
Wasn't much of a buzz here tonight which was a first, because every other time I've been to The Bonsai Restaurant and Café Lounge it's usually packed.  I like the unfinished walls and the warehouse style finish but it doesn't feel very warm or very Japanese.

Value for money - 3.5/5
It's not cheap but I think the tapas style dishes are worth it; not so much the mains.

Will be back again.

Taste Test Total Score 14/20

The Bonsai Restaurant & Cafe Lounge on UrbanspoonEntertainment Book 2013/2014 Information
Section A - Fine and Contemporary Dining
Page - A71
Offer - 25% off the total bill up to $30 value

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