Friday 22 February 2013

Don Don (CBD)

198, Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Don Don on Urbanspoon (before the move)

Don Don on Urbanspoon

Scoring 92% on Urbanspoon from more than a 1300 raters is no mean feat for a fast food joint. The original Don Don on Swanston was a sure hit if you are looking for a quick reliable simple meal. The food is pretty basic and it's not upmarket Japanese dining, but what they serve, they do very well.

However, since moving around corner to Little Lonsdale Street, my impression is that they have lost a lot of the soul and quirkiness of the original space. It's no longer the same and I'd be interested to see how people really feel about the new space.

The Place
The new Don Don is a huge space and to me, it is rather disappointing. I am hoping that this is because they have not finished setting up the new space yet. It feels like a big low cost cafeteria and they have really embraced the fast food joint feel. From the moment you walk in, it feels no different to any fast food outlet. To me, it has lost its soul in the move and the big space is just boring.

Things to do nearby: The State Library, QV and Melbourne Central are all within a minute of Don Don - which means there's plenty of competition for Don Don but it continues to do well.

The Food
Simple Japanese takeaway with highlights that include Teriyaki Chicken Don, their Bento boxes.  I have to say though, they are not big on vegetables and if you are ordering the terikayi chicken don (for example), you'd be lucky to get 2 little bits of broccoli.

It's not a 'sharing plate' kind of place and each complete meal is enough for one person. There's a limited range of old reliables...

very average Buta Teriyaki Don
There are some exceptions to the good food here is that I have never really liked the beef they serve here (Sukiyaki don), probably because they are trying to replicate the thin sliced beef the Japanese love, but somehow, the quality just doesn't match up to the ones you'd get in Japan, and end up being a bit stringy. This might also be because the beef can be a bit overdone, sitting in the sauce for a long time.

I have had the Buta Teriyaki Don and I don't recommend that either - feels more like boiled pork than truly panfried pork. Not a fan.

The Service
This is cheap, and efficient and just what you need for a fast food joint. It used to be cheap and cheerful - now it is just cheap and quick.

It's a reliable takeaway place for me and once you work out the dishes that you like and are reliable - you have a winning formula for a quick lunch in the city.

Cultural Moment
Everywhere one goes in Japan, there are small eating places like Don Don where it's more a takeaway place with no more than 5 stools on the side for those who want to eat in quickly. They are known as Shokudo and it's common to see people eating by themselves off their little takeaway boxes, and in a hurry.

Beyond the Family restaurants, Izakaya and Shokudo - there are a range of other types of Japanese eating places - many of which specialise in particular types of dishes - for example Udon vs Ramen vs Okonomiyaki etc. Here's a link to a site that has comprehensive information about different types of Japanese eaiting places - Japan Guide (Restaurants).

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