Well, I CAN'T believe, it has been almost TWO weeks since I dined at Tempura Hajime and I have yet to blog about it. I've finally decided to devote some time and talk about Tempura Hajime.
Located in South Melbourne, this place is discreet, and believe me when I say discreet I mean it. Located near Kings Way, on Park St, it is steeped in between office blocks and apartments. It is the most unlikely place you would expect to find tempura bar. As the name suggests, tempura is what they do, and let me tell you, they definitely know tempura. Tempura and the Hajime obviously go way back.
To set the scene, the entrance is so discreet that unless you were actually looking for that restaurant, you would not locate it by chance. No street signage, a deep and heavy wooden door opens to an illuminated sign. That's it. That's all you get. From there you enter a waiting room, you definitely can't say it is pedestrian. Greeted by two staff, we are taken into the main dining room where the action happens. Seating only 12 people, it houses a hemispherical bar where the chef casts his magic.
From memory (and photos), approximately 12 courses are served, each showcasing the brilliance of each main ingredient. We start off with sashimi with the usual suspects of kingfish, salmon and whiting. Like all brilliant sashimi, big yielding pieces provide enough texture to bite into, but soft enough to disintegrate after a few bites.
A tempura of corn was so marvelously understated that it makes you wonder how come corn doesn't always taste like this.The way it was cut was also impressive, with the kernels remaining intact - I can't ever get it to look so neat.
I won't talk about each dish because after 2 weeks, I have really forgotten the order which they were served. But one thing that remains is how perfect each piece of tempura was. Perfectly crisp, devoid of greasy oil, with flavours that were harmonised without being too overpowering. Watching the precision and meticulous detail of the chef is an interesting sight. I might start practicing with hot oil so I can be as awesome.
Anyway, Tempura Hajime is a place that you wish was your local, but it is so far from pedestrian that it really couldn't be your local even if you lived next door.
Enough of my ranting, here are the pics, enjoy and let me know what your experiences have been at Tempura Hajime:
Eel and Dory.
Eggplant with chicken
Kingfish with shiso
Mushroom filled with prawn
Scallop with Sea Urchin
Vegetable Tempura with Rice and Teriyaki
Tempura Hajime, 60 Park Street, South Melbourne