Archive for July 4th, 2012

Kuza Urban Japanese Food @ Victoria Park

It’s been a while since I’ve done a food review and a bad one too. I wouldn’t even have contemplated blogging about Kuza  (because the food is really not worth a mention) but their actions to date have been so despicable that it ignited my passion to warn all other Perth-ians about this place.

This story goes back a weekend when Gill invited us for lunch at the new Taiwanese dessert shop Taro Taro in Victoria Park. We only discovered Kuza Urban because it was located right next to Taro Taro. We were so excited that there was a new Japanese place in our neighbourhood that we immediately decided to go there for dinner that night. That was our first mistake of the night.

Standing outside Kuza, we were a bit hesitant about going in as it looked more like a intimate romantic dining area than a family restaurant. But we thought, why not give ourselves a treat and have some fine Japanese food? Second mistake of the night. The interior of Kuza is interesting, there was a street art mural all across one side of the wall, very Melbourne-ish in style. But everything else in the restaurant screamed fine dining with dark walls, the wineglasses and the waitstaff suited up in black.

We were asked whether we wanted water and we said yes. It dawned on me that it was probably their opening night as the waiter seemed quite unsure of himself.  Perusing the menu, my heart sank a little when I realised they were not just a restaurant on the higher end, they were actually attempting to be a fine dining restaurant on the very top end. Their most expensive item on the menu was Wagyu steak for $50, other dishes ranged from $16 to $50. It should be noted that the $16 dishes were ordinary dishes to be had at any takeaway Japanese outlet e.g. agedashi tofu, chicken karaage. A large sashimi was around $45 . None of these dishes came with any sides such as miso soup, salads or even rice.

Now, never mind the high prices, I’ve eaten at some great fine dining restaurants around town and most of them have always managed to impress me with their cooking techniques and creations. I was expecting something special from Kuza.

chicken karaage

This was my soft shell crab which came with watery unsweet watermelon pieces. It was drizzled with some kind of vinegary dressing that reminded me of the dressing you get with Foshan chicken. Now this didn’t help  the soft shell crab which was already very thickly battered and left a floury aftertaste in my mouth. The sauce and residue of watermelon juices only added to the overall sogginess of the soft shell crab which I expected to be crispy. None of us liked it.

We were surprised to see salmon confit ($26) on the menu, hardly Japanese or ‘urban’ Japanese at that, but being intrigued and salmon lovers, both R and HC ordered it, only to be told by the waitress that it wasn’t offered that night. Well, take it off the menu then.

pork belly

So HC ordered the pork belly with apple puree instead. Poor guy, when this dish came out, we said ‘you better order a side’. The pork belly itself was very ordinary and sadly, lacking a crispy skin. Not sure what the apple puree was about, I guess a spin on the usual combination of pork and apple? The sauce drizzled on top was just balsamic vinegar, really ordinary food.

We also ordered an agedashi tofu (three cubes of tofu) which could have come from any takeaway shop, and I ordered a chicken karaage. The chicken kaarage was freshly fried and came with a ginger juice dressing on the side, Kuza’s way of  justifying the $16 mark for 5 small bits of fried chicken was having little chopped bits of avocado, tomato and cucumber underneath. I could have done the same thing at home.

As the night grew on, we understood that we were not going to get full with these bits and pieces of so called fine dining, so we started ordering sides. We ordered the udon and ramen ($8 each) which came in a full bowl (thankfully, something in a normal portion at last) but was so bland and tasteless that we may as well have gone home and cooked instant noodles. R’s ramen was so underseasoned that he had to pour a huge amount of shoyu into the soup, sadly, the ramen was not ramen at all and tasted like something out of a pack, the bad part was, it wasn’t even cooked properly and he got a huge chunk of noodles that were stuck together.

All the dishes were very disappointing, the ramen and udon were terrible, but what really disgusted me was the steamed rice ($3 a serving). Because it wasn’t even Japanese short grain rice but long grain rice! Over the week I even read a review that said even their sushi was made with long grain rice! You’ve got to be kidding me, how non-Japanese and cost saving can you get?!

The shock didn’t end there. When we left after paying the bill (can’t fault the service, they were fine), R came out to tell us that our bottle of water was $8. Wow. I only wish the waiter had told us earlier in the night that we were actually paying for the water, and $8 a bottle at that. Is your water air flown from the Swiss alps? I knew we were never going to return to Kuza.

This is not just about the price of the food, fine dining is called fine dining for a reason, I have never ceased to be amazed with the food that we’ve had at fine dining restaurants overseas and in Perth and yes, it might have been $120 for a degustation at Jacksons, but it was worth every penny. What disgusts me is the audacity of Kuza to charge fine dining prices, serve such run off the mill (even below average) food and basically try to slug their customers wherever possible. They charged $50 for Wagyu beef but didn’t bother to state the source, what grade, cut, weight the beef was .

In Japan, I was amazed at the passion and dedication that the chefs put in their amazing food, from ramen booths to the great Kani Doraku, everyone cultivates their art and treats their food with respect. But for Kuza to serve long grain rice in sushi and clumpy ramen and call themself a Japanese restaurant, I was just disgusted.


When we got home, I couldn’t put Kuza out of my mind and we all decided that we would write our honest review of the restaurant in Urbanspoon. To my amazement, the next day, there were reviews up glorifying the wonders of Kuza and making statements including that Kuza served ‘the reshest sashimi in Perth’. My disbelief grew as I noticed all these fantastic reviews were by once-off reviewers who had never reviewed elsewhere EVER. And suddenly all 4 pop up just to say how great Kuza is? Yeah. Right.

Now the most freaky part. All the bad reviews of Kuza were deleted overnight. In fact, ALL my reviews of any restaurants (good or bad) in Perth dating back since 2010 were removed. Suddenly Kuza’s approval rating which was bordering the 50% mark became 70%. ALL the once off fantastic reviews remained. Only one bad review remained and this was the one that came with pictures.

Why and how did this happen? I can only assume that Kuza’s owners who have no problem putting up fake positive reviews of their restaurant must have through means and way requested the removal of all bad reviews. So there goes the credibility of Urbanspoon. Apparently owners of restaurants are able to regulate what reviews they want on their Urbanspoon site. I have emailed Urbanspoon to ask for an explanation but I don’t expect to get a satisfactory reply.

As for Kuza, you can run but you can’t hide . You can try to silent me on Urbanspoon but I doubt you can censor me on my blog.  I wouldn’t worry how fast you can delete bad reviews of your restaurant, because word-off-mouth travels fast and I believe your dirty tactics, rip off prices and appalling food will speak for itself.

Unless you finally open yourself to accepting constructive criticism, I look forward to reporting of your closure soon.
Kuza Urban Japanese Food
387-393 Albany Hwy, Victoria Park, WA 6100
Kuza Urban Japanese Food on Urbanspoon


July 2012
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