If you are in Canberra, let me ask you this question. What is the newest addition to the Kingston cafe dining scene? I recently discovered this Japanese venue that opened just two weeks ago and I can tell ya it’s very popular. It is Tokyo Canteen.
Tokyo Canteen is a new Japanese establishment located on the Eyre Street in Kingston in the Eyre St Market complex. The complex is also home to the Supabarn Local Fresh Market, which I wrote several weeks back. Branding itself as a Japanese Brunch Cafe, Tokyo Canteen is indeed not anything you’ve seen in Canberra. I have been to Tokyo for several times and this small venue is like those establishments on the streets of Tokyo that you can go in and enjoy at any time.
The internal decor of this venue is quite modern with elements from the Japanese culture, such as the lanterns. Two weeks into business, this establishment was definitely not lack of customers. When we went there for lunch, the place was fully packed with people and there were several tables outside waiting for seat allocation. Whether it was people passing by and decided to dine in or someone with a booking, all the words I heard in the venue among the customers were ‘Oh this is amazing’, let alone the amount of photos went on instagram and facebook 😀
Equipped with a kitchen at the end of the cafe, this venue really gave the feeling of Tokyo in some of the small modern eateries and this certainly filled the room with heaps of nice aromas. Here you can also enjoy freshly made coffees and other Japanese speciality drinks.
Onto the menu, I must say this venue got quite a large menu for all day brekkie and all day lunch while having plenty of things to drink. The style of food served at this venue is ‘Teishoku’, which is a specific dining set where all the dishes are served together as a set. Teishoku dining is based on the the concept of ichiju-issai (a bowl of soup and one dish) (一汁一菜) traditional meals offered at temples. It normally includes a main, soup, rice, and pickles. The concept eventually spread throughout Japan and transformed into the convenient meal sets found at restaurants and cafeterias today.
The Tokyo Canteen is unique in the Canberra dinning scene is because they are different from many other joints who offer bento boxes which is another style of the Japanese dinning. The establishment aims to bring the memory of traditional Japanese home style meals into our everyday life. The highlight of the brekkie menu includes the Tofu, the Honey Roast, the Okonomiyaki and the Mushroom Toast. While for the lunch menu, the pork curry, the grilled eel and the soba salad were also popular.
For our visit, we decided to have three of their popular items to show you, my dear readers, their presentation and the tastes and what a Teishoku dining scene was about. So here you go.
Teishoku Agedashi Tofu, $18 Tempura tofu and sweet potato in Kombu Dashi Broth, Koshihikari Rice, Pickles and Salad
This is a must-order-dish! Not one of 🙂 Agedashi tofu (揚げ出し豆腐) is a popular appetizer menu at Izakayas and Japanese restaurants. This set was from their all day breakfast menu. The tofu was deep fried in tempura style so did the sweet potato and they were cooked through in Kombu Dashi Broth which added the saltiness and dried dashi/fish flavour. The coating of the tofu was very gelatinous but pulling them apart was never an issue. Into the mouth, the tofu were soft enough to not needing much bite while the coating sticks on the teeth – like when we had candy – to give a much enjoyable experience. Not to mention the sweetness of the sweet potato combined really well with the tofu to give extra flavours. The rice used in Tokyo Canteen is all Koshihikari Rice (越光米), which is highly prized in Japan and is considered as a delicacy. The pickles of the dish were also a highlight to act as a palate cleanser while complement other flavours with their slight sourness and freshness. Highly recommended!
Unagi Grilled Eel, 26 BBQ Eel, Greens, House Pickles, Japanese BBQ Sauce, Koshihikari Rice, Cured Egg &Housemade Miso Soup
This is another must-order dish if you like eel. It is from the Lunch Menu. Unagi (ウナギ) is the Japanese word for freshwater eel. The eel was roasted on charcoal into their finest appearance, i.e. charred on the outside while still white on the inside. The eel was basted with Japanese BBQ sauce and there was a cured egg yolk. This is another Tokyo, or Japanese, dining speciality as I’ve seen it multiple times in Tokyo and Osaka but not in other places in Kyoto. The egg yolk was cured to perfection. It was still running but the texture were definitely different to your ordinary egg and plenty of flavours have been ‘inserted’ into the egg yolk. Combining with the rice, the whole dish just gave you lots of fragrance on the palate while the eels were chewy (in a nice way) and very tasty. At the middle of the biting, the miso soup gave extra saltiness and flushed the food down easily. Highly recommended!
Japanese Cold Summer Soba Salad, $24 Fresh salmon sashimi, green tea soba noodles, cucumber ribbon, greens, pickled ginger, nori, shiso, medley tomaro and yuzu ponzu dressing
Now, the last but not leaste. My first impression of this dish was it was so fresh! It would be a fantastic dish for a hot summer day to give some of the zen freshness into our body. The chunky pieces of fresh salmon sashimi were served with the green tea soba noodles. It was certainly interesting to see green tea being added into the soba noodles but it was quite reasonable understanding the Japanese culture of tea. The highlight of this dish was the use of the shiso. If you are not familiar with the terminology, shiso is Perilla, a herb belonged to mint family, which has a very distinctive flavour. The addition of the shiso in this dish really shined by day. This dish was very refreshing. Perhaps the only suggestion I could have, for my taste, is to use smoked salmon instead of fresh salmon to add extra smokiness and saltiness but the dish, as it currently is, would be a popular dish already.
So readers, tell me, after this post, do you crave for some Japanese dishes or the ‘Teishoku’ style dinning? If you do and you are in Canberra, Tokyo Canteen is certainly a good choice to dine in. The price tags for the dishes are very affordable while the experience was fantastic. Although being a cafe, the table service was good too with all the small talks occurring. Oh, not to forget to mention, try their drinks, Japanese style drinks that I am sure you won’t disappoint! The one on the left below was a highlight with grapefruit peels on the bottom and refreshing soda water, on my….
Disclaimer: Foodiescucina.com were guests of Tokyo Canteen but all reviews and opinions are our own.
Until the next post, have a fantastic week. I will show you my recent experience with some commercial products and how I turned those into mouth-watering dishes. Stay Tuned!
38 Eyre Street
Kingston ACT 2604
Open Monday to Sunday from 8:30am