Shonan Kamakura, Katherine Place – The Overview…
Food: Mixed Sashimi, Kamukara Rolls, Kaarage, Mixed Tempura, Chicken Skewers, Beef Skewers, Yuzu Pannacotta
Whether it’s the pretty pink walls, the beautiful wall art or the tasty menu that draw you into Shonan Kamukara, you’re sure to feel at home quickly. It’s one of those places that works both when it’s busy and when it’s a little more quiet. At a quiet time you’ll enjoy a chilled out dinner and an easy catch up with friends. On a busier night, you can eat your fill of Japanese cuisine, surrounded by lively chatter. As with many asian eateries it’s a little cosy, but individual tables are spacious and it’s well laid out to avoid feeling cramped. It’s quite a small venue but they can accommodate groups too!
The menu is made up of small or medium serves and it really is best enjoyed shared – allowing you to try a bigger range of dishes – although it’s a popular choice with solo diners too! It’s exactly the kind of place I love – I honestly think all food should be served in tapas variety so I get to try as much as possible. The sweet, helpful staff showed a wonderful knowledge of Shonan Kamukara’s varied menu and brought out an ideal menu for us to try, taking care to substitute out for my shellfish allergy (which I always appreciate).
We started with the mixed sashimi. There was a really good range of fish included here, and it felt like some thought had gone in to creating the dish to give varied experiences of flavours and textures. The fish was fresh and good quality. I’m going to be honest, I was hungry and gobbled this down pretty quickly so I didn’t mindfully savour each different style of fish, but I was impressed with the consistency of the whole platter. Too often, there’s one standout fish, supported by a range of mediocre back-up fishes, but here they maintain the good quality across the whole platter. Even more impressive when you consider this is only a small section of their menu, they’re not a specialised sushi venue.
We then moved on to their namesake Kamakura rolls and the Japanese fried chicken. The rolls were really quite large. They were filled with plenty of variety and I loved the little beef topping, it added something just a bit different. I’d find these perfect for a light lunch! The Kaarage chicken were tasty small bites. There was quite a bit of zingy flavour to the light batter, and they were a nice addition, done well.
The mixed tempura was probably my favourite dish of the night – but it was a close contest. The batter was so light, and so tasty and I really loved the range of veggies included as a part of this dish. The sweet potato in particular was stand out – thinly sliced to give that perfect blend of sweetness from the potato and saltiness from the batter, I could eat it all day. The soft white fish made the dish more substantial, and for those non-allergy prone, you’d also get prawns as a part of this. I loved that while it was a larger serve than some of our other dishes, they kept that constant variety in there so it felt more in keeping with the concept of their sharing menu.
We managed to squeeze in some chicken and beef skewers too before moving on to dessert. We were really full after all of this and I’d say 6 dishes is a good amount for two hungry people – maybe 4 if you’re going to focus on larger plates. Try to get something from as many sections of the menu as possible too so that you get to experience the full range Shonan Kamukara have to offer. The chicken skewers had a nice sweetness from the basting, and the spice mix on the side allowed you to add some heat. They were a classic, tasty skewer and a great option if you want something to appeal to all. The beef were an unusual little bite – meat wrapped enoki mushrooms. These are well worth adding on for something a little different, and were a really enjoyable, creative skewer.
We finished off a near faultless evening with the yuzu pannacotta. Again, well in keeping with the rest of the menu, it was two bitesized pannacotta cubes, providing a nice light finish. It was slightly creamy, a little sour from the yuzu and a good combo with those fresh strawberries on top – it just rounded off the meal really nicely.
It’s hard to put a pin on what’s so great about Shonan Kamukara. I’m usually of the opinion that a venue needs to have one really stand out element – whether that’s a dish, the service or the decor, and everything else needs to be at least good to be really successful in this competitive Melbourne market, but Shonan blows that theory completely out of the water. The venue is pretty, but unassuming; same with the service – it was fab, but it was the quiet, again unassuming type of service, where you blinked and your empty plates had suddenly disappeared. They brought over a truly great menu, with soft-spoken explanations of each dish but they didn’t shout about how well it had been put together, we were left to discover that for ourselves. There’s not one specific thing I’ve hooked into that I want to go back for, but it’s one of those places that once you’ve been once, you’re definitely looking to spend more time there.
Address: 9 Katherine Place, Melbourne
|Mon||12pm-3pm and 5:30pm-10pm|
|Tue||12pm-3pm and 5:30pm-10pm|
|Wed||12pm-3pm and 5:30pm-10pm|
|Thu||12pm-3pm and 5:30pm-10pm|
|Fri||12pm-3pm and 5:30pm-10pm|
Parking: There’s plenty of paid parking near to Katherine Place, but being a central area, you might want to opt for PT instead.
Getting here on PT: We walked from Southern Cross Station, it was maybe 7 or 8 minutes, although it’s well served by CBD trams too.
Disclaimer: We dined as guests of Shonan Kamakura, Melbourne. Reviews are honest and based on our own personal experiences. We cannot guarantee things at a cafe won’t change including, but not limited to, menu items and opening hours, so please confirm any details with the venue before visiting.