Japanese fusion restaurant Ren Ishii and Cherub Specialty Coffee open in Sydney's south

Ruby red tuna pizza (tuna with anchovy mayo, garlic, wakame oil, shisho and tomato salad on cornbread) at Ren Ishii.
Ruby red tuna pizza (tuna with anchovy mayo, garlic, wakame oil, shisho and tomato salad on cornbread) at Ren Ishii. Photo: Amanda Michetti

 Last spotted as part of the launch team at Neil Perry's Margaret, industry veteran Stephanie Phillips has popped up in suburban Ramsgate, opening Japanese fusion restaurant Ren Ishii with her husband, chef Luke Phillips.

The couple met when they both worked at Catalina and, in a piece of full-circle serendipity, chef Yoshinori Fuchigami, an 18-year fixture at Catalina, has taken charge of Ren Ishii's sushi line-up.

After a decade in Europe, including a long stint working for a Saudi prince, Stephanie and Luke had their eyes on a place of their own in the southern suburbs.

The dining room at Ren Ishii, Ramsgate.
The dining room at Ren Ishii, Ramsgate. Photo: Amanda Michetti

"When we arrived back, Luke did some research into local cafes and I went and worked at Rockpool Bar and Grill," says Stephanie.

"We then opened our own cafe, Cooked and Co, in Sans Souci, which we had for eight years. It became a favourite hangout for all of the locals, and well known for great food and service."

Ren Ishii is a step up for the duo, and the area.

Hiramasa kingfish carpaccio with Japanese salsa verde is on the opening menu.
Hiramasa kingfish carpaccio with Japanese salsa verde is on the opening menu. Photo: Amanda Michetti

Hiramasa kingfish carpaccio with Japanese salsa verde is on the opening menu, along with wagyu brisket that spends three days braising in the sous vide machine before being served with a kombu chimichurri.

Miso cauliflower tempura heads the vegetable dish list. And because they want to be accessible, there's also karaage popcorn chicken and "pizza" with raw tuna and tomato salad on a crisp cornbread base.

Ren Ishii isn't the only new arrival in the south. A 10-minute drive inland from Ramsgate, Cherub Specialty Coffee opened in Hurstville last week.

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Its owner, Jono Attia, has worked as a barista at a posse of city cafes, including Kansas City Shuffle, but grew up in Hurstville.

"There's a bit of a hole in the market," he says. "Hurstville is ready for it." Cherub stocks coffee from Reformatory Caffeine Lab.

Ren Ishii is open lunch Fri & Sun; dinner Wed-Sun at 29 Campbell Street, Ramsgate, 0405 988108, renishii.com.au

Cherub Specialty Coffee in Hurstville, in Sydney's south.
Cherub Specialty Coffee in Hurstville, in Sydney's south. Photo: Supplied

Cherub Specialty Coffee is open Mon-Sat 7am-2.30pm at shop 4, 15 Dora Street, Hurstville