There aren’t that many restaurants in Melbourne that I keep returning to. Even when I love a place, it’s not often that I make a return visit because there are just so many other places to try. Afterall, variety is the spice of life.
However, there are a few places that I return to more frequently than others – Orita’s is one of them. M and I came across Orita’s by chance quite a few years ago – we were around the Hawthorn area and trying to find a nice-ish place for dinner at the last minute. Flipping through the Entertainment Book, we noticed Orita’s – a Japanese fusion restaurant with a decently priced menu that was just a short drive away. Since then, it’s become our go-to Japanese restaurant if we felt like something not-too-casual, but not-too-extravagant, with BYO.
Not much has changed at Orita’s over the years – the dining room has maintained the same, warm, minimalist decor, the service has remained efficient and polite and the menu is pretty much unchanged. Some might call it uninspired, but the standard has certainly been maintained and I quite like being able to order all my favourites each time.
To start off the meal, there is a complimentary amuse bouche – a dollop of creamy, Japanese potato salad on a crisp prawn cracker. Simple, yet delightful.
M and I never fail to order the Orita’s appetiser platter for 4 – for $66, you get an assortment of tasty morsels that look as good as they taste: slices of salmon and tuna sashimi, fish cakes on skewers, prawn springs roll, cooked salmon and tuna maki rolls, cured salmon with carrot sauce and wonderful, melt-in-your-mouth cubes of stewed beef.
Because we order the large appetiser platter, we end up sharing a main. Our favourite? The duck saikyoyaki – tender slices of duckling breast drizzled with miso sauce and accompanied by seasonal vegetables. We also order the garlic fried rice, which goes beautifully with the duck and is more than enough food for the 2 of us.
Our wine on the night: the 2006 Pierro chardonnay. An oh-so-lovely wine from the Margaret River and one of my favourite chardonnays.
We don’t usually order dessert at Orita’s – we’ve always found the selection unexciting, the portions not very large and the prices not cheap. Although, to be fair, what they do offer is actually very nice for what it is. So if $13 – $15 for 2 baby scoops of green tea ice cream or a smallish slice of chocolate mousse cake is what you’re after, then you won’t be disappointed.
Orita’s is the kind of place where I’ll keep returning for my favourites – I know exactly what I’ll order and I know my expectations will be met each time. I suspect that it’s the type of restaurant where one’s experience might differ depending on the dishes one orders. My recommendation? Order the appetiser platter – even if you don’t love everything on it, I’m sure there’ll be something on there that would please your palate.