San Ai Cho – Glen Waverley, Melbourne, Australia – all you can eat fusion Japanese, and Chinese bao, with a nice glitzy room and worthwhile tataki dishes


Glen Waverley is known for its amazing array of places to eat. Some places are even open until 2:00 am in the morning. As time ticks, there are always new restaurants being opened (as well as being closed). Some good, some so-so, and others are not worth mentioning. The churn of restaurants at Glen Waverley is well known. Restaurants that last awhile mean that they are probably a good restaurant, e.g. Rock Kung, Ocean King, Grand Tofu, etc.

The interior at San Ai Cho in their glitzy room with the lion head and plant wall

Now enter this new all you eat Japanese fusion restaurant called San Ai Cho. It’s the first of its kind in the area. Most of the food is Japanese, but ‘fusion’ and there are things like bao on the menu to remind you that this a Chinese run establishment as all the signs are in Chinese and the restaurant’s set-up has an oriental flair. This is not a criticism, it’s just an observation. (Some of the best Japanese restaurants around the world are run by people who are not Japanese.)

The queue starting to grow at San Ai Cho before opening time around 5:30 pm

The restaurant’s interior is pretty and clean, almost like a maid café. There is an area on the right hand side where you sit nearby a plant wall with a lion face statue with all these lights hanging above. The ceiling in this room is very glitzy. (Even now, I am not sure what the lion head is meant to represent.)

The restaurant has a double sided menu. You can order pretty much anything on the menu for 90 minutes. You can’t make orders after 90 minutes. You can choose from cold fishes, sushi, tempura, noodles and rice. The only limit seems to be on ice-cream, where you can only have one serve per person out of the following flavors: matcha, black sesame and vanilla. (Black sesame was my favorite out of the three.)

Side A of the menu at San Ai Cho

On the day we visited, I was super hungry. I hadn’t eaten for most of the day and was ready to chomp down on some serious food. We reserved out table for two with a baby chair and managed to get a table in the glitzy room. Our table was small and had the double sided menu, a jug of water with glasses, drinks menu and a bottle of soy sauce already on it. (I was wondering if the table was made to be small on purpose.)

Side B of the menu at San Ai Cho

We sat down and I immediately made several orders. We waited for around 15 minutes before our first dish arrived, miso soup. I was super hungry, so I figured I would just order round two now so that we didn’t have to wait for it. No long after ordering our round two dishes, we started to see a flurry of dishes come to our table from my round one order.

There were a lot of really interesting dishes. I thought the cold dishes, i.e. the various tataki like King Fish Yuzu, Tuna Tataki, Beef Tataki and Salmon Tataki, to be really good. The sauces on the Beef Tataki, which was tomato based sauce, and the king fish yuzu sauce were memorable and delicious. I also really enjoyed the sushi and specialty maki. Both the Crispy Chicken and Soft Shell Crab were awesome and the mixture of textures were great.

Given our out-of-this-world experiences with tempura when we were in the Gold Coast and Tokyo, my wife and I were not huge fans of the tempura dishes (they were too oily) nor did we appreciate the LA Galbi Ribs, because the meat was too tough but it had a decent flavor.

Aside some a slightly slow start when we made our round one order, we were pretty happy in the end with what we ate. We had some really nice food.

We ordered a lot of food, but we didn’t order everything on the menu. There was too much on offer and not enough bellies to eat it all. (They apparently charge you AUD$10 for each 100g of wastage you leave on your table.)

The usual fee for an adult is AUD$48.80, but due to the Grand Opening special we paid just $42.80 per adult. If you want drinks you have to pay extra. The drinks were around AUD$12 to 15 per glass. The drinks look interesting.

Here were some of the dishes we ordered at San Ai Cho:

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a great time at the restaurant, because my baby daughter kept screaming (and causing a fuss) and it caused some frictions with us and some older guests (who probably didn’t have kids) and also, when I was paying the bill, they charged me for a drink that I didn’t order nor receive (I had to get a refund and then repay the bill). I don’t think these downsides are a reflection on the food. It was just unfortunate. Most of the dishes were really nice.

Visited back in April 2021.

San Ai Cho is located on Glen Waverley’s busy strip on Kingsway at 85 Kingsway, Glen Waverley VIC 3150 next to Machi Machi and Bread King:

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