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Thursday night my partner and I met in the city and were struck with the task of choosing an eatery which we both would enjoy and that wasn't too pricey. We found ourselves on Lorne Street wandering amongst a pond (to say "sea" would just be a lie) of Japanese restaurants. Some hanging light fixtures drew my easily-amused nature into Niwa at 2 Lorne Street. My choice was swiftly affirmed to be correct as we were greeted politely and enthusiastically and shown their very engaging menu, well designed with cute doodle-type drawings and text. The menu also featured photos of most of the dishes and if food photos on a menu stir up the revolting images from the Denny's menu, fear not, these photos were much more appealing. The staff was extra friendly and very attentive but found a good balance, so their extra care of the customers wasn't overbearing.
Choosing meals was tricky but only because everything looked so delicious. There was a plentiful array of tapas style food, including takoyaki or battered octopus balls that we savoured as an appetiser. For our mains, we eagerly chose from the set menu list. For $15 each, we indulged in miso soup, agedashi (fried tofu), karage (fried chicken), tempura sushi rolls and salmon. Yes, there may have been a bit of an unhealthy theme throughout the meal, with most of it being fried but this didn't detract in any way from how amazing the food was. The icing on the cake (or perhaps the benito flakes atop the tofu would be more appropriate) was the 3 for $15 beer option we had when purchasing from the set menu. Three Asahis went down well.
My recommendation for yummy Japanese food with a fun atmosphere and reasonably priced menu is Niwa all the way! Get over there and eat up!