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“Good food, awkward atmosphere” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Zen Japan

Zen Japan
Shop 3 / 55 corner of Grafton Street & Park Ave, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales 2450, Australia
+61 123456789
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Ranked #26 of 137 Restaurants in Coffs Harbour
Price range: $2 - $6
Cuisines: Asian, Japanese, Vegan, Vegetarian
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Restaurant details
Good for: Bar scene, Dining on a budget
Description: Please visit our website for more up to date informationWe don't take bookings or phone orders.The phone number above is incorect (We have no Phone) as the tripadvisor site doesnt allow for no phone numbers
Coffs Harbour
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
“Good food, awkward atmosphere”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2013

As a vego it's nice to see a Japanese restaurant minus the sashimi and western influences (chicken sushi??) where I can get some good miso and udon. Food is really good and the prices are excellent. Also have some cool Japanese retail stock in there.

Atmosphere is not so good. Owner/manager makes you feel very welcome upon arrival but after that the service is non existant. It actually feels like they want to squish you in to a corner until the more important customers arrive (we went with 5 people and sat down around two tiny tables and were asked to move into the far corner and use only one table). The restaurant provides lots of small servings of various dishes at cheap prices. However, you can only order a couple of things at a time because they can't all fit on the ridiculously tiny tables. Also, you need to carry your tray of food to the tiny tables and back to the counter again because "we only have on serving tray". All the while the owner stands there doing nothing while we (the only people in the restaurant) serve ourselves. Was disappointed to see that all the food is served in styrofoam bowls (including drinks!!). Not very environmentally friendly. Also no water provided or offered.

Sitting on the ground is authentic but not practical for some people and the space doesn't allow for it. In a bigger place where there is a chair and table alternative...maybe. Awkward trying to take your shoes off at the entrance. Place is just too small. Every time I stand up (which is frequently because you need to go to the counter regularly to order more tiny portions) my head hits the light shades.

Overall the service and atmosphere leaves a lot to be desired but the food and prices make it worth while. Especiakly when there is no alternative in Coffs.

  • Visited February 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ZenJapan, Owner at Zen Japan, responded to this review, April 28, 2013
Glad you enjoyed the food but wish you had enjoyed your experience more.

Just incase you missed the description at the front of Zen or for anyone who may not know about us, we are actually a giftware, grocery & takeaway store. But we provide a few tables for people who wish to eat their take away in store. Just like a pub or macdonalds, red rooster or just about every other take away in Australia, we do counter/bar service we don't have wait staff or table service. We serve our dishes on a tray and ask you to return it, as it's too small a space to leave them laying around and our staff of 2 don't have time too cook food and collect trays after every order (the 2 of us serve up to 300 meals a day). And just like a pub you return when you want more.

Everything is small because we are creating a genuine Japanese style atmosphere and in Japan you'll find many izakaya's much smaller but we realized that it needed to be a little larger for Aussies not used to it.

You may have also missed like many others but there was seating at the front for 5 people if they find sitting on the floor awkward. We understand that floor seating is not practical for everyone, but Zen wasn't able to be created for everyone, it was created for people who wanted small cozy japanese style floor seating or wish to order take away. It took me ages to get used to it in Japan because I always wore jeans too tight but now even my house has the same style seating. And I have noticed my general health and flexibility improve by having to get up and down many times a day (they say okinawans get up and down off the floor up to 80 times a day and they are the longest living in the world)

We weren't waiting for more important customers, all our customers are important to us. but yes we do ask that people don't take up all of the tables as we usually (although not on your night) fill up incredibly fast most nights and seeing as most people fill up on less than $10 if 5 people were to occupy most our floor every night we would be living on $50 a day minus our costs.

Water is provided/offered, like other takeaways, you'll find it in the drinks section on the menu board

As for our takeaway packaging being foam, we have a very detailed explanation on our facebook page of our environmental policies. I think you'll find Zen exceeds that of almost any take away in Australia
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16 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    8
    6
    2
    0
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Coffs Harbour, Australia
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
25 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Nice to see something different in Coffs”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 19, 2013

This is a little way out for Coffs as totally vegan and slightly more traditional Japanese food than just bloody california rolls. We loved it. Great food, great tastes, great freshness, great price. Had to sit on floor which was okay but for old farts a little hard. No easy place to put your shoes back on as yes, they have top come off too. But very very pleased this place has arrived in Coffs. I hope Coffs is up for it.

  • Visited February 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ZenJapan, Owner at Zen Japan, responded to this review, October 11, 2013
Thanks for trying Zen. Next time you might notice 2 seats near the left of the counter where you can put your shoes on/off if no one is sitting there. hope to see you again soon
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Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Very Good value for money”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2013

Having been there twice. I am amazed that the can make money . The food vegan and beautiful.
Only wish they could serve saka. Lic will come soon i hope. Beautiful people ,fantastic food.

  • Visited January 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ZenJapanAdmin, Owner at Zen Japan, responded to this review, January 22, 2013
Using top ingredients at our price takes a lot of work, but we are extremely happy that you enjoyed. Hopefully we see you again. And yes we will try to work towards getting our license in the future hopefully & serve a range of Sake & shochu as soon as we can. (We need to save a bit more first). Until then you can BYO for only $2 per night
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