I have to admit, I hold something of a grudge against Japanese dining. Without fail, I sit down with the healthiest of intentions only to find deep-fried everything’s hurled onto my plate before I can even take my first sip of futile green tea. It would appear, then, that Janken has answered my prayers.
Ponsonby’s newest hot spot is a Japanese restaurant with no deep fryer in sight, committed to offering healthy ethnic cuisine using as much organic and locally grown produce as possible. As a self-confessed health nut, I was positively rearing to get amongst a menu that promised a guilt-free Japanese experience, and I’m thrilled to say that Janken more than exceeded my expectations.
Along with a fancy glass of organic wine, I tested the entrée of beef tataki ($14.5) garnished with salad and a delightfully tangy sauce whilst my dining partner dived into some pork steamed buns ($9.5) with hot mustard that took quite a serious (but hilarious) assault on his airways.
Our lovely waitress – who masterfully handled the whole floor – delivered our mains in good time: salmon sushi with Japanese style omelette and fish roe ($18) for me and teriyaki crockpot chicken ($26) for my friend. The sushi was divinely fresh with the fish roe adding great texture, whilst the chicken crockpot was the perfect comfort meal on a chilly night, slow roasted with vegetables to offer even the most conventional diner something to get their mouth watering.
Our plates were licked clean. We almost declined our waitress’s dessert offer until she explained that Janken’s desserts are macrobiotic, meaning they use no dairy products, eggs, white sugar or white flour. How could we resist? We soldiered through a 75% cocoa dark chocolate cake ($14), served beautifully with sliced fruit and chocolate sauce.
Janken has a fantastic buzz about it, the small space creating a sweet familial atmosphere where the staff treats you like a regular on your very first visit. I’m happy to say my faith in Japanese cuisine has been entirely restored, and I am beyond pleased that the good folk of Ponsonby are embracing this little gem.
Photo Credit: The Oyster Weekend