Dining Ballarat: more to Asahi than meets the eye

tuna tataki at Ashai Ballarat

Tuna tataki. Picture: Asahi

We had a voucher, given as a present, to put towards a meal at a range of restaurants, of which there were two in Ballaratia. We went with the Japanese option, Asahi. We’ve now been there three times. Yes, it’s that good.

The restaurant is attached to a motel and, through the window, looks pleasant but unremarkable — the chopsticks on the white-clothed tables are the main giveaway that this isn’t your usual guests’ eatery.

The food is as good as any I’ve had in Melbourne, the service usually top rate and always friendly, the wine list to my liking.

They do monthly specials to keep the menu ticking over — popular dishes may end up on the regular — and have a birthday club offering a generous discount in one’s birthday month. The tuna tataki ($14) is amazing. Teriyaki pork belly ($29): noms! And the tempura banana with ice cream ($12) the ideal dessert finish. Hell, even the coffee’s good!

Treating space travel with Gravity

gravity movie poster
Gravity, directed by Alfonso Cuarón and written by him and Jonás Cuarón, is a visually stunning examination of working in space. I suspect this movie would be one of the rare beasts that rewards viewing in 3D.

But it’s not just gorgeous and exhiliarating to watch — at its centre is a human story, a tense, captivating physical and emotional journey dealing with both outer and inner space. And thankfully, character exposition is minimal and natural, and melodrama absent.

Sandra Bullock plays a doctor, Ryan, recently attached to NASA to conduct an experiment. She and veteran team leader Matt (George Clooney, reliable with humour and dependability) are marooned in space when bad things happen to their transport. Again and again. Their mission becomes one to get back to Earth.

The physics of space is beautifully, strikingly, rendered on the big screen — thrust and counter-thrust, in an environment with no resistance. Propelling through the confined sections of a space station littered with floating debris — not as much fun as you might expect. Think space walks are genteel? Think again — velocity matters.

Particularly impressive is the way sound travels only in intense POV scenes, transmitted through spacesuits, while broad scenes are conducted in the silence of space — only the occasionally intrusive score to be heard.

Bullock is ideal as the doc who has to dig deep — not action-movie deep, just humanly — reading instruction manuals, thinking laterally, using wit and dry humour and sheer tenacity in the struggle to survive. Her journey is intense, and well worth strapping in for.