Monday, 7 May 2012

Tomodachi, Adelaide Central Markets

I really want to like Tomodachi - I truly do. And why wouldn't you? Tomodachi translates into English as 'friends'.


But I just don't like Tomodachi. Nor do I particularly dislike it. There is only one word that describes this eatery - bland... but perhaps that's the point (more on this later). However, Tomodachi always suckers me in with their massive cabinet of alluring faux food. I think there are examples of teriyaki chicken, tonkatsu, dumplings and various donburi in the photo below. 


I'm fascinated by how these dishes are preserved or styled or made or whatever they do (can any explain this to me?) And also why they do it - presumably a nice picture would do just as well. Anyway, this faux food acts as a gastronomic magnet (I think I just answered my own question) to my stomach. I went with the tempura prawns for lunch today (faux food close-up below). $9.50 for 4 massive prawns with tempura veggies, rice, miso soup and dipping sauce seemed like a massive bargain.


Unfortunately I was wrong-ish.  

The real dish looks extremely delicious, doesn't it?


Even close up it looks exceedingly tasty.


But it just wasn't it. It was bland, bland, bland, bland, bland. But I say again - perhaps this was the point.

Let's start with the bad. The batter on the (smaller than in the faux food cabinet of promise) prawns wasn't crispy or crunchy but more like a dagwood dog - without the flavour. The Japanese mash potato salad had no flavour whatsoever - no little carrot-y or onion-y or celery-y bits to give it character. The salad dressing had this unexpectedly weird fruitiness. The rice and miso soup were lukewarm - verging on cold. The wait was almost 10min.

Phew - enough of that... some good points now. .

The size of the meal was very generous (there were lots of crunch, savoury tempura veggies) - but do you really want to eat a lot of something that doesn't dance on the taste buds? The highlight of the meal was the special dipping sauce - it was rich and salty and sweet and bbq-y. And most importantly, the dipping sauce really uplifted the bland prawns. This is why I think the tempura prawns were left intentionally bland - the plain batter soaked up the deliciousness of the dipping sauce like a sponge. Is this the point or have I missed something?

But nothing NOTHING could save those horrible bloody potatoes.

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