It's a hot Saturday around 11.30am and the eve of Chinese New Year. Jeremy and I are foraging around in Northbridge grocery shopping when we suddenly are hit with an overwhelming desire to eat. And eat we must!
We head over to Is Donburi as it opens. I've eaten take away sushi from here, but the menu for dining in is completely different so I'm keen to try what they have on offer. Jeremy's pretty impressed by the menu and we pour over it noting different items that sound delicious.
The decor in here is funky. An assortment of low and high tables, plus counter benches with a mixture of wood and metal. There's a wallpaper with all different words to associate with the cuisine printed in different fonts. It looks fresh, funky and yet nice and simple. For a small space, they manage to maximise their use of it.
When the waitress comes over and takes our order (plus gives us two steaming cups of green tea), I lose my cool and blurt out the first thing I see. But that is pretty much my normal ordering style it seems when I go out and about to eat.
She also delivers our drinks - juice for Jeremy and bottled water for me. One sip of the water though and instantly I know there's something not right. The plastic around the top smells a bit suspicious and the water has a strange metallic taste. But never fear, the waitress takes it from me the minute I mention it and returns with a new bottle that is as it should be. Crisis averted!
We start off with the King Fish Sushi ($12.80), which is seven blocks of rice with incredibly plump and soft slices of fish atop of them. One bite in and I can see this is a completely different experience to buying take away sushi from here. It's so delicious, fresh and generous. The wasabi pile on the side is hot and nasal passage clearing; the ginger (not my thing but Jeremy tries it) is actually as it should be unlike so many sushi places. But best of all, is just how much fish there is in comparison to the rice. It's wonderful!
I choose the "business bento box" with katsu fish ($16.50). When it comes out to our table I'm surprised as it's not so much a box but rather a heaping pile of food all in one bowl. At the bottom is a pile of rice (which is actually not the best sadly, it lacks that Japanese rice stickiness), then salad (including seaweed salad), panko crumbed fish, two fried gyoza covered in mayonnaise, four calamari rings and a prawn parcel. Holy moly, I definitely ordered too much! But for that price, can you blame me?
The fish is extremely crunchy, a bit too dark on the outside for my normal preference, but the inside is soft and oh so flaky. It's not the kind of dish I would normally order and yet I really enjoy crunching away as I shuffle bites to Jeremy since I know I won't be able to finish.
The gyoza is not really to my liking. Jeremy likes it though so I give him both after deciding the filling isn't suited to my palate. The calamari rings are nice enough, pretty much your standard fare. But that prawn parcel is just wonderful. Juicy, perfectly cooked prawns in a crisp pastry much like a fried wonton. However it's not greasy at all and goes down a treat.
Jeremy orders the Unatama Don ($15.80) which is grilled eel served with egg and rice. It comes with a side salad and a serving of miso soup. And yes, his side salad actually is on the side unlike mine.
The eel is really, really good. The skin is slightly crisp but also sticky from the sauce used; the inside yielding to a prod of the fork with ease. The rice underneath is a bit of a different story as strangely it has chunks of capsicum and tomato throughout - definitely would have been better plain.
All up I have to say I waddled out of Is Donburi completely and utterly sated. The service is warm, the food delivered quickly and of a high quality. The price to dine in is not as cheap as their take away options but I definitely recommend coming here for a reasonably priced meal that is fresh, made with love and enjoyable. I'll be back for sure.