Posts Tagged ‘Bento Box’

Kappaya, Japanese Soul Food

April 10, 2011

We didn’t have any specific plans on Saturday afternoon so spontaneously decided to head out to Abbotsford Convent. Friends had previously recommended a tiny Japanese restaurant called Kappaya so it was time to check it out!

Abbotsford Convent is a beautiful old collection of buildings, inhabited by largely bohemian style eateries. I have been there on several occasions as on our return home from China, Courtney actually started working there, kick-starting her foray into conference management.

Anyhow, it’s a big old Convent with a long and interesting history. While once upon a time it was home to those naughty women who had sex out of wedlock, then forced into Nundom (is that a word?), it’s now a super popular venue for weddings, markets and people wanting some cruisy weekend food. Most of the eateries are primarily based around outdoor seating, so it’s atmospheric with the odd musician on hand, amusing the dining crews.

Beneath the leafy green fronds of a beautiful tree, Kappaya bills itself as Japanese Soul Food. I can’t say I entirely know what Japanese Soul Food is supposed to be, but if it’s trying to channel a tiny piece of Japan onto your plate(s), well I can tell you it definitely succeeds on that front.

I always find a restaurant a little more convincing when its operated by people of the same nationality. Japanese food is so much more than just the beautifully prepared items are placed before you. It’s imperative that in order to have the real Japanese experience, it is provided by actual Japanese people. Sure, other people can cook the same food, possibly close to the real deal, but nothing beats real Japanese provided cuisine. There are a number of Chinese run Japanese restaurants around town, and I swear, they just don’t have the same heart.

We were guided to our seats by a friendly Japanese girl who provided us with two hand-written menus. She was infectiously polite, warm and friendly – reminding us both of the amazing people we met whilst in Japan. I had gone to Japan with a cultural stereotype in mind. I expected the Japanese to be shy and demure, never making eye-contact and being generally awkward to deal with. The opposite could not have been more true. Where the Chinese were shy to the point of going vague, the Japanese were always so wonderfully friendly, always so intuitive as to our needs. There was never a language barrier as even when their English was almost non-existent, they still knew what we wanted. This waitress reminded me of those people, and immediately I knew it was going to be a great lunch.

The menu was a little light on choices which I guess means the restaurant only focused on lunches. The choice was basically between Bento boxes, or seperate Onigiri (Hand-made rice balls). The Bento’s were $12.00 a pop, allowing you to choose two Onigiri from a short list, then choosing another two dishes from a short list of three. I have been absolutely hankering for Onigiri since getting home from Japan – having totally missed the little gems you would find in Seven Elevens of all places.

I went with Tofu & Miso, and Sour and Spicy vegetable Onigiri, combined with Crispy vegetable chips and some form of boiled chicken. This came accompanied by a delightful Japanese pickled salad. The whole meal was absolutely delicious, not coming in a traditional Bento box, but an assortment of dainty dishes. Id have to say the highlight was the thinly sliced pickled red onion that came with the Vege chips – oh yeah!

Seriously, this place was a magnificent little find. While it cost us $48.00 total (thanks to 3 Yebisu beers $7 per pop, ouch!), the two Bento’s at only $12.00 each was a steal. While it might not look as Japanesey as some of the other places around, it was most definitely a little slice of Japan. Completing the meal with a slice of Green Tea cake – one of our favourite finds in China, was just the proverbial icing.


(03) 9419 6350

233 Johnston St

Abbotsford, 3067


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