Egg Sake Bistro is in the basement of the University of Melbourne’s Union House building, so it’s not going to attract any non-committal passing trade but it is popular with students. It opened in 2010 with a design that flatters the service: it’s a cheap fast food venue but there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that.
If you walk to the left side of the counter you can get rice and noodle dishes like this salmon salad rice ($7.80, below) or excellent maki including lobster salad and cream cheese ($2.80). On the right side are bento boxes made to order from a selection of meats and vegetables in a bain marie. These seem far more popular than the choices on the left.
Further to the right is a umeshu bar featuring the full range of Choya plum wines. As far as I know, Egg Sake Bistro has a unique niche with this in Melbourne. You may find me there on Friday afternoons on a regular basis from now on, because I love umeshu and they have the hard to find dark sweet variety for $5.50 a glass (it costs $20 a glass at Kumo Izakaya on Lygon St in East Brunswick). That’s a ridiculous price difference.
You can also buy some Japanese foods and many varieties of sake and other liquors. The only thing I don’t like is that they serve everything in disposable cardboard containers. The salmon salad rice I had comes in a waxed cardboard bowl, and the bento boxes come in cardboard too. The maki come in clear plastic trays like everywhere else.
My assumption is this is bad for the environment, but I’d like to know if any scientifically valid studies have been done comparing the use of ceramic crockery (including the resources to create them and the water to wash them) versus disposable cardboard containers (including the trees to make them and the landfill they create). Which is least worst for the environment?
The seating is also uncomfortable. Large minimalist wooden cubes form tables while smaller ones form seats. They’re hard to move and make it difficult for tall people to get their legs and feet under the tables. You’re better off sitting elsewhere in the basement or going upstairs and outside.
Despite these issues Egg Sake Bistro represents a serious challenge to Plush Fish in terms of who serves the best maki on campus (the best in the campus area may be from Momo Sushi on Swanston St), and it offers something more interesting and enjoyable to staff and students than the rest of the food available in Union House.