Friday 5 October 2007

King / Bourke Quest Part 7 : Teriyaki Don at Don Too

Don Too
6/340 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne (map)
9679 7113


During my student days one of the most reliable dirt cheap meals I loved to buy, if it was lunchtime and I was in the CBD heading up to uni, was the teriyaki don at Don Don (321 Swanston St). At Don Don, I loved the Japanese kids who worked in the minuscule open kitchen at lightning speed, I loved the incongruous flamenco and mambo music, I loved that the teriyaki don came with lots of fluoro pickled ginger and a sprig of broccoli. Most of all I loved the fact that the filling dish cost a mere $5.80!

Joy of joys: Don Don has spawned Don Too, in Lt Lonsdale St up near Horse Bazaar. Although this sequel restaurant has slightly posher furnishings (ie shabby-chic battered antique tables) than Don Don and its clientele consists more of suits than students, Don Too retains the menu and ludicrously cheap prices of the original.

It's a bit of a walk from King and Bourke Streets to qualify for the King/Bourke Quest, but my lovely colleagues L, K & C and I love going there so much that I'll make an exception in this case. Here is the yummy teriyaki don, with a bit of cabbage instead of broccoli.


L also has a signature dish at Don Too: the tofu curry don. As you can see, it's one of those lovely thick gravy-like Japanese curry sauces.


Last time we visited, I decided to branch out and try something different. A girl sitting at the next table was tucking in to the sashimi don which looked so gorgeous I knew I had to order it! The generously thick slices of raw salmon were tucked in the shape of a huge rosette, surrounded by veggie goodies and served on a big bed of steamed rice. From memory all this still costs less than $8 - soooo much nicer than the miserly sashimi box for $9.80 in the Bourke Place food court!


Our Don Too lunch is traditionally capped off by getting milk hot chocolates with Persian fairy floss at Beetroot (I've already blogged about these decadent beauties here).


I don't like to whinge, but the last time we went on a Don Too/Beetroot excursion we arrived at Beetroot at 1:45 and although all the tables (bar one) were occupied inside, the communal table outside had several spare places. When we sat at the outside table and asked the woman who runs the place whether we could order hot chocolates, she curtly informed us that "you're not allowed" to order just drinks between the hours of 12 and 2pm - you have to order food too. We were outraged - we'd visited before several times at late lunchtime and ordered hot chocolates without a hitch, plus by 1:45 the lunch crowd was petering out and there appeared to be no great demand for the outside communal table on such a windy day. It's a real shame, because I've always really loved Beetroot (see my previous gushing review) and I really WANT to keep loving Beetroot, but this new "rule" left a bad taste in my mouth. I've have it on good authority that the couple who run Beetroot are selling up - here's hoping the new owners will keep the Persian fairy floss but won't be quite so greedy to squeeze extra dollars out of customers, and will keep customers' loyalty!


Truffle said...

This is so similar to my office lunch routine that it's quite scary. The woman at Beetroot can be crazy although some of the other staff are quite lovely. Don Too is such fantastic value. I love their bento boxes and the sashimi is just beautiful!

Hungry Hamster said...

Great pics! I'm so tempted to try out Don Too now! The Hot chocolate looks lovely too, I hope the service gets better.

thanh7580 said...

I was at a Japanese restaurant at Friday lunch this week with a work mate and he was just mentioning about Don Don and how cheap it was when he used to go as a student.

It's a shame about the drink thing. You have to be flexible I think with the food industry in particular. If there's no one there already, why miss out on some customers who will come back hopefully. Now they just probably turned you off going back next time. Makes no sense.

claire said...

Thanks for the comments guys. Yeah, I don't want to be one of those petty bloggers I can't stand that bitch and moan about everything, but nevertheless it was very offputting. Hopefully my need to have another of those amazing hot chocolates will eventually outweigh my newfound dislike of the place...

And yes, Don Too rocks!!!

ElegantGourmand said...

I live next door to Don Too. I love both the Don's! The Sashi Don is a healthy staple for the times when I'm not tempted by junk food!

I've heard that the owners of Beetroot have changed/are changing. I no longer see Di there anymore (she's the one with the funky glasses and black hair). It used to be one of my fave breakfast haunts, but Mellie reported a very disappointing breakfast there the last time she went.