I can always eat.
Is it Asian genetics that enables, nay, insists my gullet to seek out substantial meals three times a day? Forget the flimsy sandwich for lunch, or insipid salad for dinner. When I pay for a meal, I want carbs! And protein! And vegetables! And carbs!
The Extra and I find ourselves at Roll Plus for lunch, a small Japanese eatery tucked in along the northern end of Dixon Street. It's a glorious day drenched with sunshine, but we find the pedestrian stretch of road cool with shadows, the buildings overhead creating a wind tunnel that leaves us shivering.
A serving of gyoza is just the right kind of deep-fried salvation we need. Five golden crescents huddle on a bed of shredded cabbage. The pastry skins are blistered to an audible crunch, the airy pocket filled with a mixture of pork mince and tender cabbage.
Dish of the day - beef gyudon set $15
The comprehensive menu includes a range of sushi, sashimi, curry, rice sets and bento boxes. I like the display of whimsy evident in sushi roll sections, with names like Mr Tuna & Mrs Avocado (cooked tuna and avocado roll), Shy Prawn (prawn tempura roll), Dragon Dance (eel roll), Blue Mountain Here! (salmon and avocado roll) and Crunch? Crunch! (chicken katsu and cereal roll).
The Extra orders the Dish of the Day, the beef gyudon set that is an overcrowded tray laid out with miso soup, rice, salad, chips and a hotpot of gyudon.
The chips are an odd inclusion, particularly as they're cold and a little mealy, but the beef gyudon is a winner, a hearty serve of sweet braised beef on onions, capsicum and peas.
We're both impressed by the size of this meal until my lunch arrives.
Deluxe bento $21
The deluxe bento is so generous in size it looks like it should be a meal for two. The compartmentalised lunch box holds eight nigiri sushi, nine slices of sashimi, five tempura pieces, salad and teriyaki chicken. Jostling for space on my side the table are bowls of tempura dipping sauce, soy, rice and a serve of miso soup.
On the one hand I am clapping my hands with gluttonous glee. On the other, I feel like I've unwittingly entered a competitive eating challenge.
The sashimi and sushi are bright, firm and fresh, the slices of tuna satiny soft on the tongue.
Teriyaki chicken is predictably a little on the sweet side, but the tempura is particularly impressive, encrusted with a light batter that is all crunch and minimal oil. Eggplant and pumpkin are worth rejoicing over, and I'm surprised to find two pieces of prawn tempura, as well as a curl of just-cooked tender squid.
I have to mention the music too - a lilting soundtrack of Abba on panpipes. Yes, I can hear the drums Fernando.
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39/1 Dixon Street, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9264 5955
Open 7 days 11am-2am
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12/03/2010 04:39:00 am