Cat lovers will love Nekotaro the cat themed restaurant in Eastwood. There's a range of cat themed Japanese food on offer from classic dishes to inventive Sushi Tacos and Sushi Donuts. Plus an adorable Maneki Neko hot pot!
It's late Saturday afternoon and I find myself making the familiar trek to Eastwood. I was just in Eastwood the weekend before exploring the Eastwood night markets but this time I'm back because my friend Sophia wants to try Nekotaro a cat themed restaurant.
When I think of cat cafés, they're a place to pet cats and there are anything from half a dozen to a dozen cats curled up in various places and positions. Food and drink buys you entry to the café but the main point is hanging out with cats. This isn't quite the same concept. For starters there's no cat. Well there is one cat but there are no promises of an appearance of said cat. Like a celebrity (or indeed a cat), the cat just comes and goes whenever it pleases, basically whenever the owner decides to visit. But if you do want to see the cat, you're more likely to encounter it Friday to Sunday.
At Nekotaro, the cat theme is more present in the menu and décor. There's a cat arch, a sort of shrine to cats and a lot of polaroids of cats stuck to the counter. To get 10% off you need to produce a physical picture of your cat which they will stick to the counter wall. There's a Last Supper painting rendered with cats instead of humans and there are some cat themed items on the menu. Service is quite friendly and accommodating and when we arrive at 5pm it's empty but at 6pm the restaurant will be full.
Strawberry Milkshake $6.50
Make sure to ask for the extra drinks and desserts menu if you want a cute soft drink. I love strawberry anything and the milkshake is just strawberry flavouring mixed with milk. It doesn't really appear to have any ice cream so while it's cute it's essentially strawberry flavoured milk rather than a milkshake.
Spicy Salmon Taco $15
Food-wise the menu has a range of classic Japanese items from deep fried oysters, takoyaki, sushi and sashimi but we are intrigued by the sushi tacos and donuts. The tacos come in a set of two and the taco shells are made out of crisp tempura'd nori fashioned into a taco shape. While the raw sashimi salmon topping is very tasty, there is a lot of rice inside the taco and it is a bit hard to eat with the salmon spilling everywhere. Ideally it would have half the amount of rice to both help make it easier to eat and for a better ratio of filling to rice.
Panko Prawn Taco $13.50
Out of the two tacos I preferred the panko prawn taco with its freshly fried, crunchy prawn on top. I did leave behind half of the rice so next time I'd just remove half of the rice and enjoy the prawn, rice and crisp taco shell.
Grilled Salmon Sushi Donut $15
While we quite liked the tacos, we both absolutely loved the donut and I wish we had ordered it in multiple flavours. The donuts also come as a set of two and the donut itself is made from a delicious seasoned sushi rice on a square of nori with grilled salmon on top, flying fish roe, red onion, mayonnaise, avocado and tenkasu tempura crumbs for crunch. I particularly like the flavour of the grilled salmon and rice and we finish every bite of this.
Shabu Shabu Beef Hot Pot $38
The shabu shabu hot pot is designed for one but we found there was plenty for two people especially as we had ordered other dishes. Diners have a choice of either wagyu beef or pork belly and a sukiyaki (brown) or kombu (white) soup base in the form of a frozen Maneki Neko cat. You can add on more meat if you want and vegetables although it already comes with one plate or meat and one plate of vegetables. When it first arrives our sukiyaki cat's ear is missing so they swap it out for a complete cat.
They turn on the gas stove and we watch as Maneki Neko takes a hot bath and melts. You can crack the egg and then dip the cooked meat in the egg dipping sauce before eating. It's very filling and a fun way to eat and unless you want to try both broths adding meat and vegetables is better price-wise.
Honeydew Melon Shaved Ice Bowl $22.50
There's only one flavour of shaved ice and that's honeydew which is an interesting flavour to hang your hat on as it's so polarising (we'd guess strawberry or mango would be more popular). Both Sophia and I aren't huge fans of honeydew but it is the most appealing looking dessert. It's half a honeydew melon packed in a bowl of ice, a circle of melon balls and shaved melon ice, whipped cream and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It's pleasant and cute especially with the chocolate hello kitty although the fruit is sweeter than the melon ice.
Alas there's no appearance of the elusive cat by the time we leave!
So tell me Dear Reader, would you enjoy this cafe? Are you a cat or a dog person?
This meal was independently paid for.
3-5 Trelawney St, Eastwood NSW 2122
Phone: (02) 8387 3691
Hours: Thursday to Tuesday 11:30 am–3 pm, 5–9 pm (9:30pm Friday and Saturday)