Zen Japanese Restaurant

388 Burwood Road Hawthorn, Victoria 3122

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Opening hours Mon-Fri noon-2.30pm,daily 6-10pm
Features Gluten-free options, Licensed, BYO
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Payments eftpos, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 03 9818 0116

This just might be Hawthorn’s best-kept secret: a wonderfully priced neighbourhood restaurant quietly serving lively, balanced meals in peaceful surrounds. To start, there’s the gratis salty edamame palate-ticklers and solid wine selection poured at the table. Move along to golden mixed veg and seafood tempura that cracks under the slightest chopstick pressure; glistening raw tuna creamy with avocado and wasabi-spiced mayonnaise; and plump, slightly gummy gyoza in a light soy sauce. Or opt for a bento box with miso soup, seaweed salad, rice, and sticky pork belly, say. A scoop of green-tea ice-cream is a fitting finale. Sorry folks: the secret’s out.