137 Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD
Monday generally isn’t anyone’s favourite day of the week. It’s not winning any awards in popularity contests. There aren’t many things that can redeem a Monday either, especial after a particularly pleasant weekend. Unless you’ve perhaps got a nice dinner lined up after a long day at work with some very lovely ladies, to celebrate a particularly fabulous woman’s birthday. Thank goodness for that; Monday was a rough one this week!
So, four ladies met at the entrance of an alley way in Melbourne’s CBD on Monday night to dine at Yu-U, one of the city’s best kept dining secrets. But it’s Melbourne, so it couldn’t stay secret for too long; no good food here ever does. The birthday girl chose this one, based on a recommendation from another friend, which was lucky – we’d never have known it was there, otherwise. It’s got a tiny, smaller than A4 sign above a utilitarian metal door built into the wall of Oliver Lane, which kinda pales in comparison to the signage of neighbours Lucy Liu and Coda. Down the stairs we went, to find ourselves in a little Japanese den of calm vibes and good smells wafting from the kitchen. We all agreed that with so many places being “no reservations” and a mad rush to get in and find a table, it was a really nice change to be able to book in advance and calmly head in and get settled at your own leisure; it’s a far more pleasant start to the meal!
I’m not going to bother with a legit blogger blow by blow of each course, because between the four of us, there were quite a few. Let me show you, instead…
Kingfish and Yellowfin tuna sashimi on the left (the tuna, wow… it was like butter, it just melted in your mouth), and one of the day’s specials, a perfectly cooked eggplant smothered in sauce and walnuts. I can only dream of making vegetables taste this good, it was one of my favourite dishes of the night.
Up top we’ve got the pork gyoza (delicious) and the unagi kabayaki (teriyaki grilled eel).
Bottom left is the ika itame – pan fried calamai and asparagus with yuzu citrus mayo, and bottom right is the zaru udon – cold organic udon noodles served with a dipping sauce. I loved the noodles, they were surprisingly good served cold with the dipping sauce!
We also got some yakitori chicken skewers, chef’s choice of mix. Plain, simple, good food – the chef was making them to order in the centre of the seating “area,” using a paper fan and all.
The Angus beef scotch fillet with mushrooms and a thick dashi sauce. I loved this one, the sauce was fantastic and it was a pretty decent sized serving.
And finally, and probably my favourite despite not being able to have too much (apparently garlic and onion no longer agree with my stomach, but that’s another story), was the duck and eggplant. Wow. Seriously, these people can do the most mind blowing things with eggplant, I can’t even tell you… the duck was perfect, too, really got me thinking I’d like to try cooking it at home (note to self).
So, there’s the food. It wasn’t cheap, but it was, I believe, worth the money. The service was impeccable; no glass was left under half empty at any point, we were walked through the menu and our options, advised on how many dishes we were best to order for our group, and it was all done with a smile. It was the perfect spot for a Monday night dinner party, I honestly couldn’t pick a fault with Yu-U, and will absolutely be back again. If you can find it’s hidden entrance, hopefully you’ll give it a try too :) Oh, and while we’re talking Japanese food, guess who’s going to Tokyo in October?! WOOO!!!