Melbourne CBD abounds with good Japanese lunch spots, from tiny laneway favourite Sushi Monger to the rarified surroundings of high-class Shoya.

Takumi is a restaurant which spans these two extremes – it is spacious and uncrowded with a quiet and sedate ambience. The decor is inoffensively neutral, almost blandly boring. Boppy J-pop plays quietly in the background and the service is sweetly deferential.

The restaurant calls itself a wagyu beef specialist so of course that is the thing to try here (unless you’re vegetarian), with the lunch specials around the $15-$25 mark. I ordered the Deluxe Bento Box ($22.80) as I needed a large meal to replace my lunch and dinner.

The neat compartments were filled with my choice of wagyu beef pattie, yakiniku beef  or sukiyaki beef, salmon and scallop sashimi, ebi fried prawns, wagyu beef curry, salad, steamed rice and miso soup. There was certainly a lot of food and enough to dissuade me from dessert, even though I had already earmarked the black sesame pudding with ice-cream ($5.80).

Sadly, my yakiniku beef was a bit dry and stringy, not the sort of texture I’d be expecting from cuts of waygu, a by-word for melt-in-your-mouth beef. On the other hand, the wagyu beef curry was an unexpected favourite, given that I’m not normally a Japanese curry fan. The authentic home-cooked comfort dish was warming, roundly flavoured and the slow cooked cuts of meat were just perfect with the rice. As for the rest of the bento box, the flesh of the deep fried prawns was fresh and juicy and well-encased in a crunchy panko crumb batter. The sashimi was good but not particularly remarkable, along with the salad liberally draped with a sweet dressing and a pedestrian miso soup.

My friend A had the gyoza bento box ($15.80) which had much of the same items except it included deep-fried gyoza. I’m not sure why they chose to deep fry the dumplings as we agreed that these overly crispy morsels would have been much more palatable pan fried.

All in all, Takumi is an ok option for Japanese food if you’re down the top end of town, but would I recommend it? It’s certainly not the best Japanese I’ve had in the city and even for its very reasonable price point I can think of other places I’d rather go for lunch – such as Yu-u, Izakaya Hachibeh and Yamato.

Takumi, 32 Bourke St, Melbourne +61 3 03 9650 7020

MON – FRI 12:00-2:00pm
MON – SUN 6:00-10:00pm

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