Maedaya was packed and when the sonic boom of noise, good cheer and greetings exploded when I opened the door, I thought I was at a One Direction concert instead of The Cure, but after my senses regulated, I realised there was some order in the chaos and it was just thirst after the 1km walk from Der Raum on Swan Street that caused me to feel disoriented. Although the very helpful and attentive staff were not able to seat us immediately for foodstuffs we were quickly provided drinks and in my case I opted for a can of sake. Yes, a can, which is something that I have never had. I could not knock it back as quickly as a Cherry Coke, but it was surprisingly sweat and easy to drink and very authentic. I suppose most things would have been after an extended session at Der Raum in retrospect, but that is not the point. I knew that I had found a winner. I never thought about drinking sake out of a can. To me it was like drinking wine out of a can so after I got out of my comfort zone and bias, it went down easily and thankfully.
Surviving the blast of cold every time the door opened was made easy by the constant flow of sake and an environment that just made you happy and want to socialise. After fifteen short minutes, we were escorted to our table and a very long laundry list of food was presented. It wasn't as simple as the menus of Japanese food that all looked the same in Lost In Translation but a comprehensive bible of sorts. There is no sushi or sashimi, but items that originate on the grill (yakitori) or in the kitchen directly. You are encouraged to have many small servings of different things. There were no awkward moments when service appeared with food, would look at you whilst you have a full mouth or talking and are unaware that there is no longer any real estate on the table to place the many dishes that you are bound to order. Everyone was very efficient (I mean very!) and professional.
Sake master and owner Toshi Maeda (Maedaya is translated as "House of Maeda") certainly knows his product and I left the experience a better and more informed person albeit a bit pissed. Not having spent much time eating in an izakaya, it really made my previous experiences elsewhere feel substandard and really feeling ripped off. This high quality, fun and professional experience was very inexpensive in comparison and upon seeing the bill, I nearly fell off my chair in shock. It certainly wasn't from indulging in the sake since I still remember what great value for money it is, which is probably the greatest value for money experience that I have found since moving to Melbourne. If I had not polished off the sake, the restaurant will happily store it for you and make it available on your next visit. Now that is what I call service.
Kampai to Maedaya!
Link to review
400 Bridge Road Richmond VIC 3121
No web site
My Rating: 15/20
Value For Money: 4.5/5
Comment: Great vibe and excellent value for money
hate mail or love letters: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com
At the time of this post, a whopping 89% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon liked Maedaya. I am certainly one of them.