Iori Plus is the sister restaurant to both Iori and Coo in Civic. It opened up a while ago in Deakin (replacing the all-you-can-eat yumcha) and I’ve been told by a few people that the food there is better than the original Iori. Glancing at their website, I noticed they do a half-price banquet on Mondays. I love bargain deals like that! And what better way to try this restaurant out than with a banquet of (usually) their best items.
The restaurant is located upstairs at the Deakin Soccer Club. Signing in on the sheet at the desk is required, but other than that, I don’t think you are required to be a member of the club. The space inside is huge and they have sectioned off one end of the room as there aren’t enough diners. One side is flanked with private booth-like mini rooms divided by light partition screens for a smaller group of diners (I’d say 4-6 people).
On the other side lies three long sunken tables for slightly larger groups where diners are requested to take off their shoes before climbing in. Cushions are provided along the wooden benches to provide a more comfortable seat for your posterior. The middle section is scattered with plenty of tables and chairs. The sunken tables were completely full so our group of twelve were seated in the middle section.
There are two types of banquets for a minimum of 6 people – the Ninja ($20 per person) or the Samurai ($30 per person). We chose the Samurai.
On the table were thin rolled up wet napkins to wipe our fingers on. We noticed a machine towards the front that churns out these rolled napkins. A nifty gadget.
Dish 1 – Sushi and Sashimi with Special Sushi Rolls. I found the sushi and sashimi to be really fresh, lean and everything a good sushi should be. The types of sashimi were not mentioned to us but I think they were salmon, tuna and a white fish (perhaps kingfish). One of the sushi pieces already had a bit of wasabi brushed on the underside of it. It’s a bit of a surprise if you don’t like wasabi. The special sushi roll wasn’t that spectacular but still tasty.
Dish 2 – Edaname. Not much to say here. Lots of edaname to go around. These didn’t have much salt on them but were still good. I remember my first experience eating edaname. I thought, since it looked like a snowpea, that I had to eat the whole thing. So I did. I chewed and chewed to get it down and couldn’t figure out why this was a popular entrée. It was hairy and disgusting. I finally just swallowed the whole thing as chewing only helped so much. No one had told me that you don’t actually eat the outer skin. So for those who have never tried edaname – nibble off a top corner, then with your fingers, squeeze the little peas out and pop them in your mouth. It will save you a bit of embarrassment. Note: they’re not snow peas but soy beans.
Dish 3 – Renkon chips. These are crispy lotus root chips that I can eat like normal chips. Very addictive. The photo is completely blurry I know but it’s the only shot I have.
Dish 4 – JFC – Japanese deep Fried Karaage Chicken. There were no 11 herbs and spices so no where near as good as the regular KFC. The batter was crispy and the chicken was moist. I quite enjoyed this.
Dish 5 – Age Dashi Tofu. Big squares of soft tofu sitting in a broth. The tofu might have been cooked in some light batter as I found a thin golden film covering it. Not sure what it was, but it became soft and globby after sitting in the broth for a while. The broth itself was quite salty but went well to balance the plain tofu.
Dish 6 – Wagyu beef tataki – thin slices of wagyu still slightly raw in the centre. This was good quality beef, too bad there wasn’t more of it. The soy sauce mix was a bit too salty for me.
Dish 7 – Steamed barramundi. Two big whole steamed barramundi came out next covered in lemon and ginger. By this stage I was getting pretty full. The fish was fresh and still steaming.
Dish 8 – Crab and prawn tempura – there was only a tiny bit of softshell crab so I was too slow in trying some of it out. The prawn tempura were not whole prawns but instead made of a mix of prawn meat. These were very hot as they’d just come out of the fryer. The batter was crunchy and it was done well.
Dish 10 – Garlic steak – this was cooked a bit rare but again tasted amazing. I wanted more of it!
Dish 11 – Miso soup – a Japanese banquet isn’t complete with a bowl of miso soup.
Dish 12 – Dessert consisted of a scoop of green tea ice cream with a pastry (which looked like a mushroom) filled with sweet red bean paste. I’m not a huge fan of green tea ice cream but I managed to finish this. The red bean pastry wasn’t too sweet and I thought was a nice accompaniment to the ice cream.
Overall, I thought this was a great introduction to Iori Plus. Unfortunately one of my friends was a bit ill that night but everyone else felt fine so I’m not sure if it was caused by the food as everyone ate the same thing. Service was very polite and our wait staff always wore a smile on their face.
Even though the place wasn’t packed out, I’d recommend booking to assist the kitchen staff with planning their portions.