Melbourne's Emporium food precinct continues to pack in those gastronomical delights, with the multifaceted Tetsujin rounding out level four's oriental offerings.
The bright, white space that greets you at the top of the escalators is home to the sushi train, where $3.30 plates circle until 9.30pm each night. It's heaven for shoppers; after all, what could provide better relief after a retail sesh than to order some sushi from the iPad on your table and let the food come straight to your belly? Settle in here for a quick, cheery feed, or head beyond the kitchen, through to where the smoky aromas, neon signage and lively chorus of waitstaff welcome you to the barbecue part of the operation.
This is the yin to the front room's yang — or the in to its yo, if you want to stick with the Japanese theme. Back here, the grills are sizzling, and a moody, industrial-cool fitout borrows something from late-night Tokyo, promising an altogether meatier experience. Groups of students or couples sip colourful cocktails and share beer towers of house lager as their food cooks between them.
In addition to an a la carte menu, there's a range of BBQ sets to suit any protein craving, each served with rice, fresh vegetables and a flavour-packed kimchi tofu hot pot. You might go for the pork belly set — featuring eight different marinades ($62 to feed two) — or the more inclusive combo set, with its LA galbi (short ribs), pork belly and chicken bulgogi ($60 for two). Those with more particular appetites can personalise their own set, ordering by the item to pack in as much ox tongue, pork neck or pipis as they like.
At $138 for two, the grand set, is well worth the splurge; the parade of sashimi, wagyu, seafood and dessert guaranteeing to leave you full. Soft shell crab salad and fresh salmon are followed by platters of neatly-cut protein, looking every bit as gorgeous as they do in the menu's flat lay photos. Alternate between sampling the four different cuts of wagyu, grilling up the king prawns, scallops, mussels and abalone, and diving into the kimchi hot pot, which is packed with baby octopus and more mussels.
A generously priced drinks list includes a range of whisky flights and serious selections of both sake and shochu, marking this as a great dinner-and-drinks pitstop before a night out on the town. The cocktail selection is all kinds of fun and packed with Asian flavours; those looking for a slant on their usual post-work G&T should try the Nihon Gin ($18), infused with green tea and rimmed with nori salt.
Snappy sushi drive-by or Tokyo-esque grill night — whatever your game plan, Tetsujin has the goods.