We’re off to Japan later this year so I am in preparation mode right now tasting my fill of Japanese eats. Luckily we have an abundance of options in Byron Bay – from the longstanding O-Sushi, to Kinoko in Feros Arcade, crowd favourite DOMA Café (Federal), Kura upstairs in Bay Lane, Izakaya (Mullumbimby) and Japonaise Kitchen where I have only just recently begun to sample the menu. What’s great is that each of these Japanese styled canteens is very different to the next – in their menu and their aesthetic. That means there’s definitely room for everyone. After all, you can never have enough Japanese food, right?
Japonaise Kitchen in Byron Bay is on Fletcher Street. It’s styled like a kitsch Japanese canteen with neat window seats, small booths and nooks inside designed for the slight of frame as well as footpath dining for the overflow. The ceilings are high and the walls are covered with a cacophany of faded Japanese posters. There is rustic timber panelleing embellished with neon and over the counter shelves are brimming with displays of Japanese pickles, sake bottles, vintage Japanese paraphernalia and paper lanterns. There’s no sushi train, although there are some fast takeaway options in the teeny glass cabinets. Other than that, your meals at Japonaise kitchen are made fresh to order from the pint sized kitchen at the rear.
The menu at Japonaise Kitchen has everything from larger Main Meals, Ramen (egg noodle soup), Noodle Soup (buckwheat, soba wheat udon) and Curry as well as lighter shared styled options including Sushi and Sashimi, Gyoza, Tapas, Tempura and their famous Japanese Hotdog.
The Main Meals include well known dishes like Teriyaki Chicken and Chicken Katsu Don. The Ramen and Noodle Soups are a great warming meal as are the Curryies that are served with coconut, quinoa, salad, rice and miso soup. You can choose your option of vegetable, haloumi, chicken karaage or katsu (crumbed).
The Sushi Menu has Hosomaki (your popular sushi rolls, plus the inside out version), as well as hand pressed Ngiri and my favourite, oversized Hand Rolls – which I always order with fresh tuna – and some house special rolls too. The Gyozas are great as a starter or part of a shared menu with dishes from the Tapas menu. The Tuna Karaage with home-made tartare is a nice alternative to the classic chicken variety. I also love the Eggplant Miso Dengaku, which is thick slices of eggplant that are grilled and soft in the middle topped with a thick dengaku sauce made form miso, peanut, quinoa and coconut served with a crunchy side salad.
And you must try the Japanese Hotdog at least once with your choice of filling (pork please!) served on a small, fluffy white hotdog bun with lettuce tomato and teriyaki mayo.
Japonaise Kitchen in Byron Bay is licenced and serves Japanese beers, sakés, whiskeys and plum wine as well as organic wine and soft drinks. It’s open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and is a fun way to enjoy popular Japanese eats made fresh to order.