Sunday, May 8, 2011

Daruma Japanese Restaurant, Haymarket

As a stereotypical starving uni student, any place which offers cheap eats becomes a new welcome sanctuary. If you're out for some decent and very affordable Japanese in the city, you'd be pleased to discover Daruma on level one of the Prince Centre on Quay St. With quality nosh, reasonable prices and close proximity to my uni, what more could I ask for? Happy Hour, of course. Running from 10AM to 12PM and then again from 3PM to 5PM every day with half-price dishes... a feed for under $6? I'm sold. Unfortunately when Fiona, Sharon and I visited for lunch, it wasn't Happy hour but we enjoyed a cheap and substantial meal nevertheless.

Chicken Karaage Bento Box, Daruma
Chicken Karaage Bento Box $9

Being the glutton I am, I go for the chicken karaage bento box, which comes with a generous serving of of chicken karrage, fluffy rice and sesame, picked vegetables and a small piece of agedashi tofu. The chicken was succulently juicy with a crunchy exterior, the karaage I've had at some other places is often soft or coated with egg, which is nice in its self but I much prefer the no-nonsense deep-fried crispy chicken. Which sort of gives indication to the regard I hold for healthy eating. However I did wish there was some Japanese mayo or other sauce to come with the chicken. The pickled vegetables were piquant and helps counteract the heavy oiliness of the other bento components. The agedashi tofu was silken soft in the centre and wore a coat of deep-fried gelatinous skin, topped with green onion and resting in sweet dashi dressing.

Mini Tempura Udon, Daruma
Mini Tempura Udon $2 (with any bento box)

For an additional $2, you can opt for a bowl of mini tempura udon. Which of course I did. The bowl was a good size, not so mini that you feel ripped off, and not so big that you are unable to finish your meal. The piece of tempura prawn was perfect and crispy, the batter had just the right amount of crunch, though the underside was slightly marred by sogginess as a result of resting in the soup. Not a fan of seafood, I was pleased to find the meat to be tender, sweet and not fishy at all. The noodles were chewy and soft, topped with a slice of fish cake, seaweed and green onion in a flavoursome soy broth.

Chicken Karaage Curry, Daruma
Chicken Karaage Curry $8.80

Fiona ordered the chicken karaage curry, the same lovely chicken atop Japanese curry and a side of rice. I had never had Japanese curry before and I was surprised to find it rather different to the Indian and Thai curries I've previously tasted. In comparison, Japanese curry is mild and not as spicy, whilst being smooth and thick, which I later discovered was a result of being made from roux. The curry also included pieces of carrot, potato and onion which made for pleasing accompaniments.

Chicken Teriyaki Udon, Daruma
Chicken Teriyaki Udon $9

Sharon's chicken teriyaki udon completed out trio of chicken-based dishes. Her bowl of huge udon arrives steaming and topped with fish cake, seaweed and green onion as well as five slices of teriyaki chicken. The swollen noodles were chewy and soft, in that same more-ish broth (I have a feeling it might be laden with MSG, but who cares it's delicious). The chicken was tender and flavoured with the familiar taste of sweet soy, the skin especially good, as all the unhealthier parts tend to be.

Daruma Japanese Restaurant
Level 1, Prince Centre, 8 Quay Street, Haymarket 2000
Telephone: (02) 9281 2889

Daruma on Urbanspoon


  1. I love japanese food and it looks like a great find.

  2. Good food brings people together. Finger food is best suited for all occasions, it is light and people love eating it and Japanese food is one of my favorite too.


  3. Bento Box for $9....thats a good deal