The team behind Redfern's katsu-slinging Oratnek in Redfern have opened their latest culinary venture one suburb over in Surry Hills. Named Cafe Kentaro (which, for keen anagrammers, is Oratnek in reverse) is a bright brunch spot, nestled down the quiet, leafy end of Bourke Street.
Head chef Kentaro Takayama has an impressive resume, listing head chef of bills in Darlinghurst among his accomplishments. Chef Kenny's unique style adds a Japanese twist to modern Australian cafe fare, as is evident in the dishes on the all-day breakfast and lunch menus.
Sitting amongst matcha French toast and Japanese poutine (which sees chips covered in pulled beef, teriyaki gravy and goats' cheese) is the famed katsu white bread sandwich and karaage sambo with layers crispy chicken with kimuchi (the Japanese cousin of Korean favourite, kimchi) with slathers of mayo ($13). The umami mushroom toast ($14) features the classic sautéed mushrooms on toast — but with a twist. The infusion of butter and miso with a sprinkle of fresh goats' cheese and herbs on top works out to be a salty yet sweet party upon your tastebuds.
Most of the food at Kentaro is made in-house with the exception of the Brickfields bread and the coffee, which is roasted especially for Kentaro by Aroma Coffee. And while the coffee is excellent, it's the matcha latte that will win you over. As you would expect from a Japanese cafe, this bright green concoction is the real deal — milky and vegetal yet not overly sweet. Matcha itself is a powerful antioxidant, and green things are almost always healthy — so, logically, you can rationalise ordering two.
You probably deserve a post-meal goody too. There's the usual smattering of cupcakes and brownies, but the matcha lamington ($5) sits like a beacon among them. Treat yourself to this spongy matcha and coconut-covered cube of joy — it will put you in good stead for the day.
With two cafes now, chef Kenny and his team clearly know a thing or two about feeding the hungry brunch-goers that dot inner city pavements on weekends. Blending Japanese ingredients with Australian brunch fare, Kentaro manages to do things a little differently while still keeping it simple and not overpriced.