My partner and I caught up with some friends over the weekend. Seeing as they live in Gungahlin, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out a restaurant in the area. We all like Japanese food, so I made a booking at Kokoro Japanese Restaurant. I don’t drive to Gungahlin often, so I plugged the address (40 Hibberson Street) into googlemaps which led us to the central shopping market place. We found a parking spot behind Aldi and proceeded to walk around the block to find the restaurant. After one lap, we still couldn’t find it. Looking at Kokoro’s website, it states the restaurant is facing Gungahlin Place East which unfortunately doesn’t help when you have no idea where Gungahlin Place is or have any sense of direction. I later found out Gungahlin Place East is the name of the street (not the brightest when I’m hungry). My friends advised it was near Coles, which took us across the road and around the corner.

The inside of the restaurant is lit with a warm glow and we are welcomed in by staff members. Wooden slabs have been cut thinly and featured as the main decor throughout the restaurant giving a slight rustic cool feel. I like it.

Kokoro Japanese GungahlinWe started off with the crab claw ($10) which came in a serve of four with Japanese vinaigrette. The deep fried outer shell was just perfectly crumbed and not too oily, and the whole thing is stuffed full with soft crab meat. I really enjoyed it. Not to mention you get a small side salad and lencon chip too.

Kokoro Gungahlin crab clawI really wanted to try one of Kokoro’s special makisushi. Prices are a little steep at $21.50 each but they sounded good. I decided on the ‘Volcano’ which is rolled with tempura prawn, cucumber and crab topped with spicy cheese sauce. The menu mentions a tuna ball but I couldn’t taste it. It did look like a volcano had erupted. I could immediately smell the wasabi which was thankfully put on the side. The tempura prawn had lost a bit of its crispness so the overall roll was soft. The cheese sauce was light and not too cheesy or overpowering. There was a decent amount of heat from the spicy sauce but not enough to overwhelm everything else (I’m glad I shared this). I’d love to try out the other makisushi on offer another time.

Kokoro Gungahlin volcano makisushiFor my main, I ordered the Yosenabe ($26) filled with seafood in udon noodle soup. This came sitting on top of a little burner to keep the soup warm.

Kokoro Gungahlin yosenabeThe bowl is filled with prawns, crab legs, one or two mussels, clams, tempura prawn, mushrooms and udon noodles at the bottom. The crab legs were too much work to get any meat, so I left them for someone else to finish. There were plenty of prawns but I found they lacked flavour. The soup itself was thin and delicately seasoned, but I’ve had better soup at other Japanese restaurants. Not something I’d likely order again.

Kokoro Gungahlin yosenabe 1My partner ordered the seafood yaki udon ($19.50) stir fried with vegetables.

Kokoro Gungahlin seafood yaki udonOne of my friends ordered the vege yaki udon ($14.50).

Kokoro Gungahlin yaki udonAnother friend ordered the chicken katsu meal ($19.50) which comes served with rice, a side salad and Japanese katsu sauce on top. She pointed out that the chicken is sitting on top of a metal rack so the bottom doesn’t go all soft and lose its crunchiness. Good idea!

Kokoro Gungahlin chicken katsuOverall, I think Kokoro is a restaurant worth visiting right in the heart of the Gungahlin shops. Service is polite and quick as can be expected from most Japanese restaurants. Prices are steep so it’s not exactly your every day go to place for a Japanese meal. Presentation is lovely, especially the makisushi. There were only a few diners in the restaurant on that Sunday night, but I hear it’s pretty busy most other nights.

Kokoro is open seven days for lunch and dinner.

Foodgasm 6.5/10
Price 6/10
Service 8/10

FPJ score 20.5/30

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