It’s not Japanese food……….Yeah right!
Grabbing a bite to eat after a Saturday morning activity- we found ourselves further West than we’d usually be on a Saturday pre-noon, and after our friend Michelle told us how good the food was at Koku Culture- we were sold! A true testament to how good a place is, when you’re willing to go back within a week, bringing along hubby and your friends.
When we arrived, Dennis and Michelle had already placed their name on the clip-board to indicate their place in the line, the lunch crowd meeting the tail end of the breakfast crowd at 11.30am. Koku Culture can be found on the Croydon end of Liverpool Road, Ashfield. The store is small, but it feels even smaller after you’ve packed it in with tables and chairs for 20 and, then 20 odd people within it. When we arrived we were second in line, and after our arrival another 3 parties joined the end of the queue.
But when we were finally seated, all thoughts of the wait left us and all we could think of was the food! The food! We ordered The Crispy Rice Burger with Grilled Koji Chicken for me ($15.00), Japanese Style Corn, Zucchini and Nori Fritters for my wife ($15.50) and for Dennis and Michelle, they ordered the Torched Confit Alpine King Salmon Fillet ($19.00) plus a 63 degree egg (additional $2), and Seared Wagyu Beef ($23.00). And for drinks, a flat white and Yuzu tea (hot) x2.
Unfortunately no interior pics this time, as my wife likes to take pics devoid of other patrons faces (honouring their anonymity). But because there were literally patrons everywhere in the store (we even had to share the table for 6 with others), we refrained from snapping an interior shot – bar taking a pic of the ceiling……. The only place where there wasn’t any patrons. But if I could describe it, the tables were a light wood, plain but solidly built, and decorating the walls were empty jars and plates lining the walls at head-height.
The first to arrive were the Yuzu teas, served in clear glass teapots (you can easily get 3 cups from each pot). The tea tasted like the Korean marmalade straight out of the jar? Which is fine, as we love that stuff! It’s almost tempting me to buy a jar later on this weekend!
And when the food arrived, they all arrived at once!
One point for being Japanese-y. Now the burger bun was made out of rice which had been compressed down to a sheet and then fried to a crisp! It literally went “crunch” when I first bit into it, and wrapped around the rice-bun was a sheet of dried nori (seaweed) which added to the Japanese flavours. The grilled chicken breast was coated methinks in a miso mayo sauce? And I have to say, the grilled chicken was perfect! If I was more Japanese-y I could have cried from delight! It was so tender and juicy, whoever was on the griller today- you know that Sensei knows what they’re doing! And as a side, a generous serving of shoe string fries with ketchup sauce to dip.
My wife’s fritters were fried, coated in a crunchy tempura batter- while the insides were still oozy. Mmmmm. A light dusting of red chilli powder added a tasty kick, so that the end outcome was like eating a healthy serving of spicy popcorn! With mashed avocado underneath and a poached egg on the side. Ok, if we’re still keeping score, it’s now 1 all in terms of Japanese-y V being only an Australian café with Japanese influences.
Thanks Dennis and Michelle, as they knew that I was more likely than not to blog about this, so they both offered up a spoonful of their dishes for me to try. Michelle’s Wagu was super tender and served with barley which was a little bit unusual.
And Dennis’ Salmon (or is it Sal-mon) was super fresh, almost melt in the mouth and was served with soba noodles. In my opinion that brings the score to 3 to 1, in favour of Koku Culture being a Japanese-y café.
Our end verdict? 4.5 Stars from 5! (3 from 3 for Food! (It’s been a while since we’ve scored any place full marks for food, but I think Koku Culture is deserving of the highest of praise! As everything was so tasty, with so many unique elements, and everything was cooked to perfection!); 0 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (the 0 score was purely due to how cramped the shop was, it was nearly impossible to get in and out of the store if you weren’t agile, and it was quite noisy in there due to the sounds all bouncing off the hard surfaces); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (although it was hard to get their attention as they were so busy, but all human interactions were friendly and polite); and 1 from 1 for Value for Money ($15 for mains is a good average in our books, but for what it was! It was top notch food, at an affordable price!)).
Thanks again Dennis and Michelle for the hot recommendation, and thanks again for shouting us! You really shouldn’t have! But as you suggested, the money has been set aside to be paid forward to a good cause. *nods*. We don’t dine at Ashfield much, as it can be a bit of a nightmare on weekends, but to have a chance to try Koku Culture? It was well worth it! Even if it did take an hour to crawl back to da city via Liverpool Rd and Parramatta Rd. *Shudders*. You can try to say it’s Australian food, but hey let’s call a spade a spade! It was pretty Japanese-y- but it was Japanese fusion at its finest!
Koku Culture-Saturday 31 August (4.5 Stars).
PH: 0402 697 475
1/355 Liverpool Road, Ashfield
Mon-Fri 7am – 4pm
Sat-Sun 8am – 4pm