56 Chapel Street, Windsor
Japanese Tapas Bar
Located at the dodgy end of the dodgy end of Chapel St this place seems to have hit the spot décor wise. A large graffiti mural on one wall depicts skulls, eagles, and some amply breasted girls who might look a little Japanese if either you or they squinted their eyes. They almost gave the recently refurbished chest of my dinner companion a run for its money. Hanging from the roof are some large model WWI era planes. Sopwith Camels if I’m not mistaken. The other wall was decorated with magazine images of manga style large breasted dangerous looking women and a vertical garden.
We got a seat at the bar in the large open window facing the street which turned out to be an ideal viewing spot to watch some tool in his T Bucket do burnouts up the street. Ah Chaps, gotta love it. Possibly the most un-Japanese looking waitress ever delivered some menus and some wasabi peas. It consisted of Japanese tapas, main meals, and rice burgers. Craft beers and wine were also on offer. A guy who I’m going to call the owner, since that’s my best guess, suggested at least one of us should try the Happy Ending beer since it was his and he was pretty chuffed with his efforts. Two Happy Endings thanks! Cue a night of hilariously unfunny hand shandy innuendo every time a new beer was ordered.
The un-Japanese looking waitress with a fetish for refilling water glasses took our order. I’m going to guess she was Scandinavian judging by the accent and the hotness, but I’ve been wrong before… it was a balmy spring night in 1988 but we don’t talk about that any more. We ordered some fresh kingfish and tuna sashimi mini tacos to share, my friend ordered a seafood bento box and I ordered a Japanese style pork belly curry. I almost couldn’t due to the criminal levels of apostrophe abuse and random capitalisation on the menu but I battled through. What a trouper. The waitress also seemed to battle with remembering the order and repeated it back a number of times but what the hell, I could listen to that accent all night.
Let’s start with the Happy Ending. Actually a very nice draught beer brewed in Geelong. Another Happy Ending thanks! The bottle has an image of a sumo wrestler, or possibly a very chubby Japanese kid wrestling (or quite possibly fucking) a large fish in some sort of Yin Yang battle. My money was on the fish. The ‘owner’ regaled us with a story about how the image had come from the back tattoo of a patron in a Yakuza sauna in Japan that he quite possibly shouldn’t have been in.
The mini tacos were certainly that. In fact, the tacos were quite possibly Sakata crackers, but the fish was delicious, particularly the tuna. The kingfish could have done without the sprouts on it… but then again I think that’s a rule for life, not just for uncooked Piscean morsels on crackers. Fish tacos with a Happy Ending was a good combo.
Our Scandinavian waitress then delivered the miso soup to my friend and then seemed to have a mild panic attack about how to put the plate on the table. She was able to calm her nerves though by refilling our water glasses. It seemed to be quite cathartic for her so I had a sip of water every now and again just to keep her from heading for her meds. The miso soup was heartier than your average brew as it was filled with what, after some initial incorrect guesses, turned out to be slices of lotus root and daikon. The ‘owner’ brought out some lotus root fried slices which were delicious too. Lotus root and a Happy Ending… also a good combo.
The bento box arrived consisting of some crumbed oysters topped with tomato and cucumber presented in the shell, a couple of gyoza, rice and some other nibbles which I couldn’t guess what they were. It all looked very nice and it tasted how it looked.
Curiously, my pork belly curry arrived in a dish shaped like a fish. Well actually it came in two dishes. The pork belly, rice and salad were served in the fish, and the curry sauce was delivered in a separate bowl. I’m pretty sure I saw one of the waitresses eyes start to twitch as she tried to work out how to place the bowls on the table and who needed a spoon, but in the end it went off without a hitch.
Despite the unusual treatment of adding the curry to the dish as a sauce post serving, which for all I know is the Japanese style, it was very tasty. The pork belly was succulent and the curry sauce was very nice despite the somewhat cold gravy consistency.
We finished the meal with another Happy Ending and the last of the dangerously inconsistent wasabi peas. Happy ending indeed. Instead of struggling to grab a staff members attention to get the bill I simply took a sip of water knowing that our Aquarian super waitress would be onto it quick smart.
I might well be back to try their unique breadless rice burgers and more of that 60s, 70s and 80s rock soundtrack.