Tempura Hajime

60 Park St, South Melbourne, VIC

All Details

Larissa Dubecki

Chef Shigeo Yoshihara at Tempura Hajime.
Chef Shigeo Yoshihara at Tempura Hajime. Photo: Simon Schluter SMS

WHERE AND WHAT
Most restaurants court attention, but a few are happier outside the spotlight. Opened in 2007, the shy and retiring Tempura Hajime, which seats only 14, is a temple to the Japanese art of frying, although to call it frying is a disservice to the ethereal gossamer crunch of good tempura. A change of ownership meant Shigeo Yoshihara took the reins in 2010, and he's held a steady course. If you haven't yet experienced Tempura Hajime, it's time to go.

WHERE TO SIT
Tempura Hajime lurks behind a simple wooden door in a nondescript office building on a quiet South Melbourne street. A hostess will show you through to the well-lit inner sanctum, a plain room where just 14 seats are lined around a curving wooden bar, behind which Yoshihara works his magic from two oil-filled brass pans.

WHEN TO GO
Tuesday to Friday noon-2pm; Tuesday-Saturday 6-10pm.

Prawn tempura at Tempura Hajime, South Melbourne.
Prawn tempura at Tempura Hajime, South Melbourne. Photo: Simon Schluter

DRINK
Sake and shochu (a clear, distilled spirit) have a healthy showing; the wine list is a mostly predictable showing of Australian labels.

EAT
There's something beguiling about being fed one morsel at a time. With nothing to do but sit back and savour, the diner's only role is to choose between the mild dipping sauce with minced daikon, or Murray River salt flakes and lemon juice. The tempura roll-call includes mushroom topped with minced prawn; a chunk of pale sweet potato; and a cross-section of zucchini, partly hollowed and filled with spicy salmon. The perfect single prawn. King Dory. A spear of asparagus. And the most revelatory? A tie, between the scallop bisected with a piece of nori (seaweed) and sea urchin - just sublime - and a deck of corn kernels, sweet and earthy. Oh yes, and the freshwater eel. The set menu has its non-tempura bookends: sashimi at the start - a small selection of salmon and kingfish and a little tumble of hapuka anointed with plum sauce - as well as a small bowl of shredded chicken breast in a creamy sesame dressing. At the end arrives a gutsier collection of sushi, including smoky wagyu. Dessert comes after a refreshing shot glass of plum wine spritzer - a clean and cooling yoghurt pannacotta with muscatel grapes and a splash of Cointreau.

WHO'S THERE
The food-curious, keen to engage with the chef.

WHY BOTHER?
To experience frying as an art form.

Rate this restaurant

Rate this restaurant:

Use [left] and [right] keys to rate, [enter] to submit, [esc] to cancel.

Rate this restaurant with 0.5 a star Rate this restaurant with 1 star Rate this restaurant with 1.5 stars Rate this restaurant with 2 stars Rate this restaurant with 2.5 stars Rate this restaurant with 3 stars Rate this restaurant with 3.5 stars Rate this restaurant with 4 stars Rate this restaurant with 4.5 stars Rate this restaurant with 5 stars

Thanks for voting!

60 Park St, South Melbourne, VIC

  • (03) 9696 0051
  • Cuisine - Japanese
  • Chef(s) - Shigeo Yoshihara
  • Owners - Shigeo Yoshihara
  • Opening Hours - Tuesday to Friday noon-2pm; Tuesday-Saturday 6-10pm.
  • Author - Larissa Dubecki
Close map

Similar Restaurants

Nobu

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (13)

Most viewed restaurants in Sydney

View all

You can also view recent reviews for:

Most viewed restaurants in Melbourne

View all

You can also view recent reviews for:

Most viewed restaurants in Brisbane

View all

You can also view recent reviews for:

Most viewed restaurants in Canberra

View all

You can also view recent reviews for:

Promotions

A capital restaurant capitalising on the unique character and flavours of the Canberra region.