Kenji Modern Japanese Restaurant - East really meets the West

Chef Kenji Ito has been around for quite some time now.  He's made a name for himself by winning multiple awards since Kenji first opened in 2006, including the recent 2012 Advertiser food awards for Best Asian.  So what better time to revisit this fancy Japanese 'fusion' restaurant than straight after an award.....

We arrive at 6pm, warmly greeted by at least 4 different waiting staff, and by Kenji himself.  The place is dark, cool and smells like deep fried food... one of the 'downsides' of having a small venue and open kitchen.

Kenji's Menu
Interior is dimly lit, narrow and a bit cramped when venue gets full

We are seated down by one of the waitresses and given menus and told about the specials.  We quickly order knowing that soon, and influx of other patrons will arrive.  Shortly after a 'complimentary' appetiser arrives.  I didn't quite catch the entire name of this little bite sized dish, but the main players were pumpkin and beans.

We noticed that during the course of the entire meal, we were attended to by all of the different waiting staff, not 1, not 2, but all 5.  Coming and going at different times, filling your water (constantly) and clearing plates, etc. That to me is a bit of a turnoff... I like to have just 1 or maximum 2 waiting staff attend my meal, otherwise it gets a bit hectic.        

On to the food.  The menu combines traditional Sushi/Sashimi dishes along with 'fusion' food that samples our Adelaide produce teamed with Japanese ingredients.
Appetiser: pumpkin and long beans
Funamori (assorted Sashimi and Sushi) - $65.  One of the best Funamori in Adelaide.  It has the best selection of Nigiri Sushi only for a fraction more than other competitors
Kamo  (Duck) roll - $17.  Interesting taste, not something I would order again, I prefer my traditional flavours for sushi.  
Mixed Tenpura - $18.50.  Batter is superbly done
Special - Braised Wagyu in Miso Coconut with Bug tails - $38.  A prime example of east meets west  using braised beef with roast veggies in a Japanese/Asian sauce.  Meat was very soft and fatty, the more fat the better!  Sweet to start off with, then saltiness evens out the tastes.  
Aburi Kingfish Roll - $17.  Very beautifully presented dish.  Kingfish is  fresh and fatty.
Chestnut Panna Cotta $12.50
Creme Caramel with ice cream - $13
There is not much I can fault with the food here, I have always been happy with the menu as it provides me with both Japanese and 'Western' dishes.  The menu is also very seasonal, coming at different times of the year allows you to sample different sashimi and different Japanese ingredients. The only thing that let this venue down today was the waiting staff.  There isn't much that can be done with the small space either.....  

I've read many who have complained about the price, but for the meal I had tonight compared to somewhere like Wasai, the difference would only be around $50...but a huge sacrifice for quality.

Hayes gives Kenji Modern Japanese Restaurant 15.5/20 chops on the Chopping Board

Atmosphere 3.5/5
Service 3/5
Food 9/10

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