Tempura Hajime

Tempura Hajime Article Lead - narrow
Tempura Hajime Article Lead - narrow 

60 Park Street South Melbourne, Victoria 3205

View map

Opening hours L D Tues-Fri; D Sat
Features Accepts bookings, Business lunch, Degustation, Licensed, Vegetarian friendly, Wheelchair access
Prices Expensive (mains over $40)
Chef Shigeo Yoshihara
Seats 12
Payments AMEX, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 03 9696 0051

One of the most refined dining experiences in Melbourne is built around deep-frying. There are 12 seats, three choices, and the owner-chef is just a metre away all night. Osaka-born Shigeo Yoshihara has a 20-year dedication to tempura. Those who enter this nondescript shopfront are here for Japanese culinary art, the freshest seasonal produce battered, deep-fried and precisely arranged on a plain bench. A wedge of sweetcorn is elevated to the sublime. Hot oil and batter accentuate perfectly the subcutaneous fat of freshwater eel. The night begins with sashimi and a delicate amuse-bouche of poached chicken with ground sesame. And then tempura. Yoshihara-san's performance is as exquisite as a top-end sushi chef (skills he also displays with delicately draped sushi post-tempura). The tempura progresses through more elaborate items like scallop sandwiching a layer of sea urchin, and white mushroom with a prawn mince. A refreshing shot glass of plum wine comes halfway through a night of exquisite simplicity.