Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Misuzu's + Jocks Ice Cream, Albert Park - What $50 Can Buy

Continuing my recent trend of trying to find good value at unique venues on the outskirts of the Melbourne CBD, my travels took me to Misuzu's in Albert Park to first sample modest portions afforded by this quirky Japanese izakaya-style restaurant on Victoria Avenue. One of the rare times that I actively hunted out a dessert that was not part of a degustation menu was found near Misuzu's at Jocks Ice Cream afterwards.

Our challenge was to see how far $50 could be stretched between these two venues and I believe a fair amount of variety was enjoyed.

The menu at Misuzu's is actually quite large and you are spoiled for choice. Between the dishes from the izakaya, sushi and sashimi that is available from the small glass bar and the comprehensive sake and wine menu, I can understand why this place is popular. There is a fair amount of seating both outside on the footpath under the cover of trees, stools at the sushi bar and the usual tables that you would expect in the dining room. With the amount of traffic in the immediate area and children outside, we decided to sit inside in the air conditioned comfort.

Water and the aforementioned large menus were quickly presented and after walking from the CBD, the refreshments were vanquished immediately, refills were quickly attended to and Tiro Cola ($4) was provided as a substitute for Diet Coke. It was not articulated that a substitute would be provided but I certainly didn't mind the sugar despite the Tiro product tasting a bit strange. We decided on the large "Finger Food Non-Vegetarian Platter" ($32) which did not articulate anything further with respect to what was included. We were both not only intrigued but curious to take our chances, looking forward to a mini-banquet of Japanese-inspired finger food.

The platter appeared about fifteen minutes later and there was a moderate amount of food for two people to enjoy. There were three bowls of salad. One being a tasty tuna, corn and rice noodle concoction that I started to devour whilst my dining companion got stuck into the calamari and vegetable salad. The third salad was a more traditional light and fishy salad with olives and large chunks of our friends from the sea hidden between the leaves. 

Four "California" style rolls accompanied the salads. Two were vegetarian themed and two included a decent amount of smoked salmon. These were large rolls, and when I added some ginger and some wasabi to my allocated vegetarian offering, it provided the taste of horseradish that so I desperately wanted. The three remaining items were rather curious. There was a dumpling that looked like the all too familiar sausage roll but had a minced fish on the inside of the pastry. An odd looking pastry that looked like a small meat pie, turned out to be a dumpling from the izakaya containing amusingly enough, meat. Finally what looked like a deep fried egg turned out to be another dumpling but with some tasty prawn meat. Once everything was divided up with the wooden knife that was provided, it made for a perfect amount of food and we were satisfied. Although I liked the food and the salads as they were fresh, the platter is advertised as "Non-Vegetarian" however there were a fair amount of vegetarian-items, including 50% of the California Rolls. No big deal really but I would have liked to see animal flesh included in this option.

Service did not have much to do when they attended to us and everything was quite efficient. There are many bottles of sake on display, not only in the coolers but also around the perimeter of the restaurant along with the traditional Japanese Bobtail cat waving at you from various places. It was a quirky experience with an interesting menu. A place that I would return to via Tram #1 to South Melbourne Beach with the intention of getting stuck into the sake and a late night swim, which I would hope would not end up to be a one way trip to a premature demise in a watery grave.

Just a mere 350m wander from Misuzu's you will find Jocks Ice Cream on Victoria Avenue. What a cool (sic) little place. With around 30 flavours available in cones or cups along with a couple of coolers filled with tubs of specialty ice cream that you can purchase to take away, I would certainly return to this place in a heartbeat. The ice cream is some of the best that I ever have had and a double scoop cone ($5) is smartly designed to accommodate the two scoops of ice cream laterally. Jocks also sells small containers of fudge and interestingly enough chicken and beef stock. I wasn't expecting the stock to be sold in their proprietary customer containers along with ice cream and sorbet but I suppose if there is a market, more power to them.

So between $40 all up at Misuzu's and $10 for two double cones at Jocks, we found some diversity in Albert Park and certainly discovered two new interesting places that are worth returning to. 

Misuzu's, Victoria Avenue, Albert Park

3/7 Victoria Ave., Albert Park VIC 3206
(03) 9699 9022
My Rating: 13/20
Service: 3.25/5
Ambiance: 3.25/5
Quality: 3.25/5
Value For Money: 3.25/5

Jocks Ice Cream, Victoria Avenue, Albert Park

Jocks Ice Cream
83 Victoria Ave., Albert Park VIC 3206
(03) 9686 3838
no web site, no Twitter account
My Rating: n/a
Service: n/a
Ambiance: n/a
Quality: n/a
Value For Money: n/a

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

At the time of this post, 88% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like Misuzu's. A further 93% of the reviewers also like Jocks Ice Cream.

Misuzu's on Urbanspoon Jock's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon