The newest eatery and cafe from the people that brought us Cafe Oratnek is named after chef Kenny or Kentaro Takayama formerly head chef at Bills. Kentaro (Oratnek backwards) is an ever so slight departure from Oratnek featuring slightly more upmarket dishes but still with his signature Japanese flavours and items only available at this location-think delightful matcha brownies and cream puffs!
It's almost Christmas and I don't know about you Dear Reader, but I'm almost limping across the finish line. On my way to Cafe Kentaro I pass two girls. One says that she's so tired that she "want to to go home to watch Teen Mom 3 and fall asleep". Yup I feel her fatigue. Pre-Christmas is also a time for catching up with friends that you haven't seen in forever and I was seeing Joan Holloway for lunch.
There's an outdoor dog friendly area as well as indoor seating (I find myself scouring for dog friendly places now). Kentaro is located where Cowbell808 was on Bourke Street in Surry Hills. The menu is shorter than that at Oratnek and he has brought over two of the most popular items from there: the chicken katsu sando and the chicken karaage sando.
My eyes spy one item in particular: Japanese poutine while Joan goes for the pork belly tacos. We order drinks as well (the menu tells us that the alcohol license is coming). There's a matcha melon bellini which is a two layer mocktail with watermelon juice and matcha tea. It's delicious, refreshing and not overly sweet with both flavours equally present in each sip.
This is a big serve with hot chips, pulled beef seasoned with dark sweet miso gravy, shallots and crumbles of goats cheese. It's rich, indulgent and actually kind of perfect for this rainy summer's day and I love the intensity of the beef from the miso.
I try one of Joan's not so Mexican tacos. There are four per serve filled with the softest, melting kakuni pork belly, lentils, pickled radish, shallot, mint. coriander and lime. The combination of flavours is perfectly balanced and I just want a whole plate of this. The pork belly doesn't feel or taste fatty, just meltingly good.
We make sure that there's time for tea and sweets because of course Cafe Oratnek is known for its tempting dessert display, particularly the matcha or green tea items. There are two sweets that are only available from Kentaro: matcha brownies and matcha cream puffs. I pair these with a matcha latte while Joan has an English breakfast tea that comes in a teapot on a warmer along with an hourglass (so Japanese, love it!).
The matcha sweets are fantastic and Kenny explains that they use top grade matcha for the sweets as well as the drinks (rather than cooking grade). In particular I love the brownie made with white chocolate whose sweetness is offset by the matcha. The cream puff is not overly sweet and light as a feather with a generous swirl of matcha whipped cream. And the matcha latte comes unsweetened to emphasise the true flavour of the matcha.
So tell me Dear Reader, are you almost limping over the finish line to Christmas or do you still have a spring in your step? And are you a matcha lover?
This meal was independently paid for.
616 Bourke St, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Tel: +61 (02) 9699 2665
Open Monday - Friday 7am - 3.30pm, Saturday 7am-4pm, Sunday 8am-4pm
Dog friendly area outside