Calia Grill opened this year above the popular Calia restaurant in Chadstone Shopping Centre. The normal Calia restaurant, which also has a location in the CBD, does some incredible Japanese donburi (rice bowls), including their wagyu with soft boiled 63 degree egg, and desserts, including their matcha lava cake. Calia Grill is all about grilling and eating some delicious wagyu meat.
Wagyu just means Japanese cow in the language. On the menu Calia Grills serves both Japanese and Australian wagyu meat. The Japanese wagyu would be the preferred choice if you have the money, but it is more than twice the cost. Even in Japan, the Japanese version of wagyu is more expensive, because of the level of care given to each animal beforehand and the amount of marbling on the meat. Australian wagyu has some marbling on the meat, but not as much, so the melt in the mouth experience is lesser. (For me, I don’t mind. I have tried both and when I am hungry, I am happy to eat either.)
On a Sunday night, Calia Grill opens from 5:30 pm. We didn’t book, but managed to get a table. The interior is stunning and amazing. They have put in some incredible work to make this place look luxurious, like a fine dining restaurant. I really like the plants they have introduced into this setting. The setting certainly adds to the restaurant’s appeal and it felt pretty spacious.
A cool addition to the restaurant is their automatic robot ‘cat’ assistant that delivers the food to the tables. It certainly surprised me when I first saw it. Fortunately, I didn’t notice any mishaps with this robot at all. In fact, it drew a lot of attention from fascinated guests and most people moved out of its way. (Probably due to the fact they didn’t want to damage anything.)
The menu is different to the Calia menu. This menu has different food on offer, so you can’t purchase the fries or the matcha lava cake. Instead, you can choose from sukiyaki, yakiniku, gyukatsu and donabe (or claypot) rice dishes. The drinks menu is also different and I noticed all the really nice iced matcha drinks from downstairs Calia wasn’t replicated here.
As we sat down, I asked our host to recommend some dishes and she recommended that a popular choice was their Gyukatsu Set and some sides. We decided to go with her recommendation. (We tried to order their bento, but they are only available during the lunch session. Oh well…)
The Gyukatsu set came with either Japanese or Australian wagyu, a potato salad, cabbage coleslaw, miso soup, steam rice and some sauces. The meat was crumbled and we were given a hot marble stone top to cook the wagyu to our liking.
I really liked the crumbled texture and the melt in the mouth wagyu. I tended to cook my meat for a short time, while my wife preferred it to be cooked a little longer. The meat was delicious. It also came with some delicious sauces to dip the meat into and a side of wasabi. The wasabi was quite nice. The potato salad had a mix of corn, egg and other really pleasant, soft textures. The miso soup, cabbage coleslaw and rice was as you would expect. (My wife thinks the meat was really nice. She was impressed. But she likes slightly overcooked meat.)
We decided to add a Donabe Rice Dish to our dinner with the Wagyu Truffle Rice. The claypot rice smelt really nice with the infusion of garlic and truffle in the rice. The taste was equally as tasty. I found the wagyu on the rice to be cooked really nicely and it also had a melt in the mouth texture.
While I really enjoyed the claypot rice dish, my only wish was to have some sticky rice at the bottom, but it doesn’t happen.
I also had their Japanese Evening Sencha Mist tea. It was nice and refreshing. It was pretty much like drinking green tea.
All up, we spent AUD$75.60 for our meal. The Wagyu Gyukatsu (with Australian wagyu) set was $36.80, the Wagyu Truffle and Garlic Rice was $32.80 and the Sencha tea was $6.00.
I would come again and try their yakiniku set. It looks like yakiniku was a popular choice amongst the guests. If you order their yakiniku, you get the robot assistant deliver the food to your table.
Calia Grill is on Floor 1 above the usual Calia restaurant at Chadstone Shopping Centre is located at 1341 Dandenong Road, Malvern East, Victoria 3145, Australia
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