Tempura Hajime

Tiny, hidden and serving elegant cuisine, Hajime ticks all the best of Japan boxes

The Japanese cuisine spectrum is astounding. At one end, $2 hand rolls; at the other, perfectly crafted mouthfuls of art for which you would happily part with $75. Being almost impossible to find, and seating just 12 people, Hajime is definitely at the latter end of the range. This is a real tempura house, and the quality of these morsels of magic compared to some of the Japanese available in Melbourne is like the difference between line-caught blue fin tuna and the fish John West rejects.

Upon entering you are gently ushered through the tranquil waiting room and seated around a semi-hexagonal bar where you are invited to choose either the tempura or the tempura sushi set ($75/$85). Aside from the impressive list of sake and adequate wine selection, this is where your choice ends, but relax: you’re in hands far more capable than your own. First, you are presented with sashimi that is everything the dish should be, with real wasabi and firm, fresh-as-hell kingfish, tuna and prawn. Next, you are set up with a dipping station featuring dishes of salt, lemon juice and a soy broth into which you disperse a ball of grated radish. Assorted tempura of asparagus, scallops filled with creamy urchin roe, prawn and smoked eel are then presented piece by piece with instructions of “lemon only”, or “dip please”. Finally, the chef prepares the sushi main, his hands moving with such speed and accuracy it’s like watching martial arts mixed with brain surgery. Diners watch in silent awe as perfect nigiri are assembled in seconds, flambéed with a torch and basted in lemon. The skill is so sublime and the service so gentle and efficient that you sit there feeling like an ungainly rhinoceros. This cannot be helped, so just try to behave nicely, and enjoy.

Sign up to our monthly food & drink newsletter

First published on . Updated on .

By Gemima Cody   |   Photos by Elaine Reyes   |  

Tempura Hajime details

Address
60 Park St

South Melbourne 3205

Telephone 03 9696 0051

Price per person including drinks from $50.00 to $100.00

Open Tue-Fri noon-2.30pm & 6pm-late; Sat 6pm-late

South Melbourne area guide

Tempura Hajime map

Restaurants near Tempura Hajime

Orient East

324m - The in-house restaurant at the hotel Seasons Botanic Gardens, Orient East...

Touché Hombre

568m - S’up fools! You want some streetwyze tacos? Inside Davis Yu’s bright and...

The Water Rat Hotel

584m - With dirt cheap cocktails all Sunday and a $12 parma deal, this South...

Bars & pubs near Tempura Hajime

Rising Sun Hotel: South Melbourne

423m - You'll find steak deals, drink meals and more at this old-fashioned boozer....

Prince Wine Store

796m - With an extensive selection, helpful staff, competitive pricing and best of...

Bellota Wine Bar

801m - If you've ever tried and failed to wet your whistle in South Melbourne (or...

Other venues near Tempura Hajime

Seven Nightclub

290m - Located in South Melbourne, Seven Nightclub is home to event nights...

The Shrine of Remembrance

395m - The Shrine of Remembrance was built between 1927 and 1934 as a place for...

Albert Park

576m - Albert Park boasts 225 ha of beautiful parkland including a picturesque lake...

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus
 


© 2007 - 2014 Time Out Group Ltd. All rights reserved. All material on this site is © Time Out.