Devon Cafe has a new baby sister. DOPA by Devon is located at the new Darling Square complex that everyone is talking about. The former Entertainment Centre site has been transformed into Darling Square with high rise apartments with 25 eateries below. DOPA specialises in Japanese style Don bowls aka rice bowls with toppings as well as Japanese style desserts like kakigouri (shaved ice), sundaes in matcha and strawberry and boba tea drinks.
My sometime vegetarian friend Laura once told me that women in groups of three were not a good idea. "Except when you, me and Kat get together," she says quickly. All of us are late due to Friday night traffic chaos in Chinatown and I get to DOPA first and get us a table, then Laura arrives (who is mainly late because she can't find where DOPA is) and then Kat. The space has shibori cloths hanging, pale wood and neon and is Japanese in look and menu.
The menu is a single page folded up into quarters. Basically there are a whole range of dons with toppings and the toppings can also be ordered as sides and you can also order them as a set menu with pickles, seaweed salad and miso soup on the side.
When we ask about the name DOPA they tell us that it is derived from Dopamine (the feel good chemical in your brain) because they want their food and dessert to be like dopamine and bring joy to people's lives.
Then there are drinks and desserts and to order everything you go up to the counter and order and take a buzzer to your table and collect your food when it goes off.
I had seen the truffle boba drink all over Instagram and wondered what it was like. Devon Cafe are known for their ardent love of truffle and this is very truffly indeed with a small slice of truffle on top. It's quite unusual and savoury with a cheesecake layer on top. I think all of us really preferred the Cocopan which is absolutely delicious, like a Thai sticky rice dessert in a smoothie form with plenty of coconut and rice.
The staff did mention that the cheeseburger don wasn't a highly ordered choice but we were curious to see what it was like. It has a wagyu patty covered in cheese, sauces and finely chopped pickles and a soft centered egg. It's interesting and definitely cheeseburger tasting although I think that the rice doesn't suit it as much as the other toppings.
The uni don is controversial. Laura hates uni telling us that it reminds her of lady parts. I like uni but we all feel that $45 is quite pricey for a small don with sea urchin, caviar and three slices of blue fin tuna sashimi. Laura also quips, "I should never have to pick up anything over $20." The miso soup on the side is really good though and it's nice to have salad too to balance things.
The ultimate don is also one of the specials and is also higher in price than the regular dons but out of the uni and the ultimate I preferred this. It has steak, wagyu beef tongue, foie gras and truffle and the meat is tender. I would have loved the rice to be a tad more seasoned and a little stickier in texture so that it is easier to pick up.
And out of all the dons, we preferred the most regular sounding, the chicken karaage don with pieces of crisp, golden chicken drizzled with mayonnaise on a bed of creamy scrambled eggs, sweet deep fried shredded seaweed and rice.
The teriyaki eggplant is deep fried eggplant pieces with a teriyaki sauce and two pieces of firm tofu. We ordered this more so that Laura could have some vegetables and something else to eat since she couldn't eat the cheeseburger and ultimate don.
The pork gyoza is my favourite side dish. It has a really tasty, well seasoned filling and come with a crisp lace on top.
We also enjoy the fillet of sweet and salty saikyo miso salmon.
It's time for dessert so we join the queue to make our dessert order. There is a choice of matcha or strawberry kakigori or shaved ice and Laura wants to try the matcha one. It has a scoop of ice cream in the centre, a topping of red beans and a finely shaved ice. We all like it but we can't even begin to make headway into it as it is sizeable and sweet.
The black sesame pudding is a small pudding, sort of halfway coming up the side of the cup which makes it look quite small. It's rich and creamy with a mild sweetness to it and we thought that it would be good with a pot of syrup on the side so you can make it as sweet as you want.
I like the matcha cookie with macadamias and chocolate chips. It's a crunchy cookie rather than a chewy one and it has a sprinkle of matcha powder on top to bring out even more matcha flavour.
It's both Kat and Laura's first time having brick toast. It's smaller than other brick toasts that I've had and it's essentially a hollowed out third of a white bread loaf where the cubes of bread are lightly toasted and buttered with matcha ice cream and syrup. There's freeze dried mandarins and fresh strawberries on the side. I like my brick toast a bit more buttered and toasty but the ice cream and syrup are good flavours for the bread to soak up.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you agree that women in groups of three isn't ideal? Which don appealed to you the most?
This meal was independently paid for.
DOPA by Devon
Shop5-6, 2 Little Hay St, Haymarket NSW 2000 (best entrance off Harbour Street)
Open 7 days 8am–10pm