26 March 2012
Senoji Japanese Restaurant sits along the bustling strip of restaurants in Victoria Park. On a recommendation from a family friend, we booked a table for 3 people with high expectations. The promise of excellent unagi (eel) meant our mouths were watering before we even arrived.
The restaurant was quiet for a Saturday evening, but it meant that we enjoyed attentive service throughout the night. Waitstaff at Senoji are courteous and friendly. Our waitress cheerfully suggested that we choose some small dishes and continue ordering dishes during the meal if we were still hungry.
After we placed our order, the waiter drew our attention to the free sake tastings. Freebies will always win brownie points with me!! The restaurant generously offers 3 tastings per person and I happily agreed to the waiter’s recommendations. You can also buy an entire bottle that they will keep under your name for your next visit. What a lovely touch (that’s what he said).
Sake tastings (free)
My first sip of sake was slightly overbearing; it’s certainly potent stuff! Sake is often served at room temperature, which was an unusual sensation for me. I could feel the alcohol swirl in my empty stomach in a pleasant way. One of my dining companions enjoyed the second sample because I was keen to try the plum sake. Yummy!! The fruit range is less potent: they’re probably the vodka Cruisers of the sake world. Next time, I’ll bring my girlfriends to share a bottle of plum sake (750mL for $39).
Tori karaage ($7.90)
Our dishes arrived as they were cooked. The tori karaage had 3 tender pieces of chicken, lightly battered and deep-fried. The dish was not too oily and I was relieved that the chicken wasn’t dry, which I’ve experienced at other restaurants. Among the better tori karaage that I’ve had in Perth, but the price is a bit steep given the serving size.
Gyoza - pork (5 for $7.90)
I love dumplings and gyozas are among my favourites! Soft skin, juicy pork filling with coriander and a sauce to (double)dip in. My mother said she prefers my dipping sauce when we prepare goyzas at home, but the ingredients in my version are hardly authentic…
Chicken & shitaake mushroom ($8.90)
One of my dining companions is a shiitake mushroom enthusiast; he loved this dish. Small pieces of chicken, mushroom, green beans and snowpeas swam in a rich herby broth. Everyone enjoyed it; again, my complaint is that there was hardly enough for a few mouthfuls!
Agedashi tofu ($7.50)
The texture of the agedashi tofu was silky and smooth. The batter had a lovely stretchy, gluey texture. Unfortunately, the sauce was a bit bland so I wouldn’t recommend the dish.
Unagi - whole eel ($16.50)
The unagi was our highlight dish. It looks like a fish fillet, but it’s so much more. Senoji lived up to its name; we really enjoyed the oily, smooth eel. It was covered in a rich BBQ sauce that disguised any unappealing ‘fishy-ness’. Thankfully, the skin underneath wasn’t fatty or chewy. Instead, it added a firmness to each bite.
Small rice ($3) and Miso soup ($2.50)
Easily one of the biggest rip-offs were the small servings of rice and stingy bowl of miso soup. Lots of seaweed floating in the miso, but the flavours didn’t impress.
Ginger squid ($9.90)
Squid pieces in this dish were tender, but a few pieces still had the stringy membrane attached. Good fun to watch it *twang* into a fellow diner’s nose, but probably not ideal. However, there was a strong taste of ginger in the sauce and it goes well with seafood.
Mini pork katsu ($7.90)
For the price, I was shocked to see the small serving of katsu. My mother had finished eating, leaving this dish to be shared between two. Great crunchiness, decent sauce; pity there wasn’t more of it.
We could smell the smokiness of the juicy chicken before we tasted it, omnomnom! I would have liked to see the meat a darker brown and covered with more sauce, but the skewers were a tasty treat.
Our meal for 3 was just over $100, including green tea. It was nice to slowly eat and chat, tapas style, sharing a wide variety of dishes. None of us were super-full by the time we left, yet we were satisfied. Senoji isn’t the place to go with mates for a chow-down, but it’s a lovely spot and serves quality food.
Likes: tasting lots of dishes, free sake samples
Dislikes: some tiny servings
Value for money: not great
Overall: I’ll visit again with my girls for supper and a bottle of plum sake!
Shop 1, 885 Albany Hwy
East Victoria Park WA
(08) 9362 2979