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Slicker Than Your Average Bento, TAXI Dining Room

Submitted by on November 13, 2011 – 10:47 am28 Comments

At work, when it comes to deciding on where to go to for lunch, it quickly spirals into a void of procrastination. A group of us would stand around ‘umming’ and ‘aahing’ for at least ten minutes blurting out our options and individual diva-like requests before we ultimately, end up at the local sandwich shop or worse yet, the grubby old pub. The word anticlimax to describe the situation would be an understatement.

I don’t think options are the problem when it comes to choosing where to head for a weekday lunch. In the CBD, there are a plethora of choices. For the majority, I think it all boils down to price, quality, speed of service, convenience and certainty. By certainty, I refer to the list of questions that burns in one’s mind:

1. Is the restaurant any good?

2. Have I Google’d it?!

3. What does it say on Urbanspoon?

4. Oooh! I need to see pictures of the food.

5. Was this the place Lisa was on about the other day? I don’t trust her so that changes everything!

6. Is it really worth the long walk? I’m wearing heels today….dammit!

7. Will my workmates like it?

8. Feed the pets, do the laundry, pick up that cute stationery….

Well thankfully, TAXI Dining Room answers the above (except random point #8!) with the introduction of their innovative Bento Box lunch set at $45, available 7 days a week. Now, there are quite a number of fixed price lunches on offer around town from the likes of top end joints such as Sarti, Cafe Vue (lunchbox) + Vue De Monde , my personal fav The Kitchen Cat, The Press Club, Maha and Society just to name a few.

Outside Taxi Dining Room

The Bento, Taxi Dining Room Style

What’s slammin about TAXI’s take on the bento box is, well, despite the fact that it isn’t served in a bento box per se, it still remains rooted in its traditions consisting of rice, sushi and sashimi, one main plus dessert to complete the picture.

Inside Taxi Dining Room

Let the tasting begin

First course was a bowl of Salmon Miso with wakami and shimeji mushrooms. Having eaten my fair share of miso in Japan, it is rare to come across one in Melbourne that would make my eyes close and flutter as I slowly enter into a state of food-ecstasy. This one did. Hardcore.  Slightly spicy with a few drops of chili oil, it was not flavour (being further enhanced by grounded salmon bones) this was lacking – it was the size as I slurped mine down in no time. Though, even if were larger, I’d still want more. I swear, if I had no shame, I would’ve asked for seconds. The shimeji mushrooms, usually quite bitter prior to cooking, were nicely cooked and firm. I know the menu says wakami but I’m assuming it was wakame seaweed throughout  bringing about a delicate sweetness and was on par with the texture of of the mushrooms playing together quite nicely.

Salmon Miso at TAXI Dining Room

A stunning array of finely cut sushi and sashimi with a side of the usual suspects – wasabi and ginger.

Bento Box at Taxi Dinimg Room

There were two mains to choose from and like the little piggy that I am, I asked my dining companion to get the meat and I get the fish so I could taste both! I mean, who could resist a serving of pork belly? Not me my friends, not me.

The sticky pork with seared scallops and red nam jim was a pleasure to eat as was the refreshing salad that took up centre stage cutting through the delicious belly fat.  Visually impressive, with splashes of red from the nam jim, touches of green, orange and brown from the succulent scallops. Even the plate, that I now own thanks to a recent splurge at Made in Japan! *winks* was a classy touch.  I happily mopped it all up using the scollops as a broom. It may look like a small serving, but after having four courses, I was definitely ripe for a snooze on the couch.

Sticky Pork Belly at Taxi Dining Room

Onto the surf dish, served on a another brilliant plate that I now own, came the perfectly salted Snapper, adorned with an incredibly crisp skin revealing its luscious flesh and surrounded by a forest of green. Let’s just say there was much frying to be had- twice cooked baby! The sweet and smooth red pepper essence had a kick of heat and by the end of the meal, the only signs of red that remained was on my face as I ‘allegedly’ refused to share with my dining companion as initially agreed. Oops.

snapper at Taxi Dining Room

Now for my favourite part- desserts! When I had heard about the three sorbets being served in spoons, I gasped and proclaimed that I could devour that in the time you finish that yawn! I bow my head in shame. As the line from show Winners and Losers suggests, I was ” SO WONG.”

My fellow foodies agreed that the Mandarin sorbet tasted like a real mandarin, the Passionfruit with coconut was drool enticingly tart as a real passion fruit, the snazz berry tasted like snazzberries ok sorry. I got a little carried away there at the end thinking about Willi Wonka’s edible wallpaper and all. But I had to hand it to the green tea ice cream. Green Tea ice cream and I go way back and unfortunately, as much as the other flavours serenaded me with their sweet songs, my loyalty to my beloved will forever remain intact.

Dessert at Taxi Dining Room

Inside, during the day, Taxi is semi- formal but not intimidating or pretentious – perfect for those Friday lunches. You may want to set aside more than an hour’s lunch break for this sitting as the four courses don’t all come at once like your common bento but I tell you what, you won’t regret asking your boss for that extra time as you look over the Yarra River enjoying that sticky-liscious pork belly. But remember this,  as you bite into that Green Tea ice cream, picture me shaking my head, arms crossed, demanding that you handover that dessert at once!

Zee Details

Level 1, Transport Hotel Fed Square, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9654 8808


Food Rehab dined courtesy of TAXI Dining Room and Little Big Marketing.

Also see a review by Msihua, Off the Spork and another review by fellow eater Amy’s Town

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Keep eating,


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