237 Glenferrie Road
03 9500 9424
With my friend on a quick trip home from where she is now living in England, I was surprised that it took her, as a semi-internationalist, to suggest Ayame. Then again, with a comparison to restaurants in England, perhaps it was no wonder that she craved decent Japanese food when home.
Located between the cluttered fast food outlets of Glenferrie Road, Malvern, I admitted that I glanced over restaurants in the area even if they would look good elsewhere. Ayame is set up with modern grey walls and paintings that match too well to be artistic, polished dark floor boards and rectangular tables with sharp white table cloths. My reaction when I walked in was to think, ooh, this is quite nice.
Ayame claim to have many vegetarian dishes on their menu, but, as my friend pointed out in a concerned tone, they are mainly entrees and salads. The teriyaki and tempura can also be created as vegetarian upon request. In the end, there was plenty of food.
The highlight was the vegetarian Californian rolls. Made fresh and with care (I had seen the sushi chef agonising over his work behind the wooden counter), they were deliciously crispy and light with a balanced combination of mayonnaise, avocado, pumpkin and dried seaweed. Served with pickled ginger, soy and wasabi, this was the dish for which I would return.
We also asked for a vegetarian version of the nasu dengaku (usually served with chicken). It came out in an impressive tower, whilst still having the traditional flavours of eggplant and miso. Apparently the chef worked in France for some time, l’art français seemed to have brushed off.
For main course, I ordered the tempura, which was no worse than tempura at any other decent Japanese restaurant, but a disappointment after the impressive entrees. Everyone else said their mains were delicious.