Food and Drink


Is Don Is Good

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A fair few years ago, a friend and I were milling about the city in need of a meal when we stumbled upon a tiny Japanese restaurant hiding in plain sight on Swanston Street called Don Don. They had a nice selection of Japanese food at insanely cheap prices—nothing is over $10.00—and nearly best of all, the time between ordering and receiving your meal had to be seen to be believed. It became my go-to place whenever I was in the city and hungry. Until I found Don Tojo, that is.

Don Tojo is essentially another branch of Don Don, with the exact same menu, quality and price range. Though it does have one enticing bonus: they’re licensed. Well, I’ve never seen their license, but they sell alcohol, so I’m guessing they have one. And, just like the price of their meals, their beer is so cheap that Don Tojo has become my new watering hole.

$3.00 for a Pure Blonde
$3.50 for a Coopers Red
$4.00 for a Kirin or Asahi

… I know. Ridiculous, right?

Don Tojo’s menu is limited but has a good range of Japanese chicken, beef and pork rice dishes, curries and soups, as well as bento boxes for those who want a little bit of everything.

The bustling vibe and lightning fast service of Don Don hasn’t been replicated at Tojo, with its wide, open spaces and friendly, less frantic staff. The music is sometimes a little off-putting, but at least they don’t played Lou Bega on repeat as Don Don did a little while ago, which forced me to eat on the lawn of the State Library many, many times over.

It still amazes me that I can get a meal and a beer in the city for around $10.00.

I recommend the Chicken Curry Don or anything with pork. And a Pure Blonde…hey, I’m trying to watch my figure, and $4.00 for an Asahi is a little too rich for my blood.

Don Tojo is on Cardigan Street near the Grattan Street intersection. Don Don is on Swanston Street, Don Too’s further down Lt. Lonsdale and there’s another Don on Bank Street in South Melbourne, so you’ve really got no excuse not to eat cheap Japanese food if you’re in or near the CBD.

Don Tojo
164 Cardigan St, Carlton
9662 3377


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