In Australia, sushi trains aren’t generally synonymous with quality dining. Neither is eating in a food court, or ordering from an iPad.
Tetsujin, the newest restaurant addition to Emporium, captures the ordered chaos of Tokyo – even down to the collective “welcome” of “irrashaimase!” from the staff as you walk in. It’s made up of three sections: sushi train, Japanese barbeque and bar. The barbeque area is dark, smoky and noisy, but the sushi-train area is light and bright, with floor-to-ceiling windows that look over the city.
Owners David Loh (also behind Dessert Story and Rice Workshop) and chef Tomohiro Suzuki named the restaurant after a character from a 1956 manga, a giant super robot called Tetsujin-28.
If you enter via the private elevator (accessed from Caledonian Lane), it’s the bar and barbeque area you’ll hit first. Order plates of raw Wagyu, Angus beef, pork belly, chicken or seafood, and fry them yourself over the table’s built-in Robata grill.
Over at the train, plates of fresh, delicate sushi go round and round. Hot dishes such as gyoza, okonomiyaki and takoyaki (all excellent), and cold dishes such as fresh sashimi or black-sesame ice cream, can be ordered via the iPad installed at your seat. Most items are just $3.30.
There’s an extensive list of sake, shochu and plum wine, spirits, regular wine, beer and cider, but it’s hard to go past the cocktails. Try the Nihon Gin with nori salt, or the Mt Fuji Fury with Nikka whiskey, grapefruit and orange. For something fun and alcohol-free, look for the Hello Kitty: Japanese soda served with bubble-gum and vanilla ice cream.
Like its neighbour Din Tai Fung, Tetsujin doesn’t stick to Emporium’s opening hours, so it’s a good spot for dinner as well as lunch.
Level 4, Emporium Melbourne
295 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne (enter directly via Caledonian Lane or through Emporium)
(03) 9663 9993
Sun to Thu 11.30am–11pm (sushi train closes at 9.30pm)
Fri & Sat 11.30am–12am (sushi train closes at 9.30pm)