When all you want is a warm bowl of miso soup or the comforting taste of Japanese curry, Samurai is there. We're sure you'll forgive the faded decor and out-dated posters once you spot the outrageously cheap dinner box special. A mere $16 includes your choice of soup, entree, main and drink — or you can add an extra $1 for dessert instead. Even in a city filled with cheap eats, value like this isn't easy to come by.
Divided into two floors, this slim little eatery gets quite a workout every night of the week. Don't come expecting a quiet night out — you'll be severely disappointed. As with any popular spot, a short wait is standard at Samurai. Larger groups can squeeze into one of the upstairs rooms, while downstairs is designed for smaller parties or pairs. The waitstaff here are appropriately friendly and efficient, matching the no frills, buzzing vibe of the interior.
Samurai provides consistently familiar Japanese fare and dessert. The menu flavours are simple but we guarantee the dinner box special will be pleasantly warming and hearty enough for everyone. Of the soup options, the humble miso is by far the most enjoyable. For entree, the classic gyoza are the common standout choice — or take the road less travelled and go for one of the more interesting bites like takoyaki (octopus balls). The relatively small menu ensures choosing mains is a simple matter, with the unpretentious chicken curry and udon varieties clear favourites among locals.
We highly recommend copping the extra dollar to upgrade your drink to a green tea milkshake or two scoops of green tea ice cream. The flavour is rich and smooth enough for die-hard Japanese diners, but not too overpowering for those unfamiliar to the taste. Do note there is strictly no alcohol or BYO allowed in the venue — but with drinks like these, you won't have much time to lament the no booze policy.
Lively and loud, Samurai is always packed full with hungry patrons looking for casual dining and reliable, humble Japanese classics.
Image credit: Tristan Kenny via Flickr