265 Liverpool St Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 7am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun 8am-3.30pm;Fri-Sat 6pm-10pm|
|Features||Breakfast-brunch, Vegetarian friendly, Licensed|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||Cash, Visa, Mastercard|
Turns out Japan and Scandinavia are like two peas in a pod. Who knew?
Well, lots of people probably, but for those who haven't given it much thought, the compatibility is made clear at this new 20-seater cafe on the corner of Crown and Liverpool streets.
Here, "Japandinavia" is the inspiration and brothers Daniel Jackson (Room 10, Clover) and Corie Sutherland (Mecca, Toby's Estate) are the inspired. The pair have pooled their talents and passions to create food and drink menus equal in length and thoughtfulness, and a small space that's clean and comfortably minimalist – all-white with polished concrete floor, pale timber touches and cushioned seats imported from Japan.
Coffee beans are exclusively single origin, single estate sourced and roasted by the brothers offsite on a 5kg Probat. The coffee will change seasonally with two or three roasted for espresso on offer at all times. Our piccolo and short black are both silky smooth on Kenyan Mugaga. There's also batch brew, cold brew, Aeropress, filter, pourover and Japanese drip.
The tea list, chosen and brewed with as much care, includes a Gyokuro green tea sourced by Sutherland on a trip to Kyoto. It's served in three flushes so won't keep brewing in the pot while you sip, with a dainty trio of rakugan (dried sweets). There's cold brew tea, too – a gorgeous amber-coloured Jasmine-pear number by Sydney's Altitude Tea, served with a giant spherical ice-cube – plus beautifully aromatic chai, and bubbly house-made sodas (try lingonberry, rhubarb or blueberry).
The food menu sticks to the Japandinavian theme – a rare egg-bacon-avocado-free line-up of eight dishes set to change seasonally with the exception of instant hits such as the headliner smorrebrod. The Danish-style open sandwich has king salmon, house-smoked and black sesame-sprinkled, on thin rye spread with creme fraiche and pickled ginger, bolstered by curls of pickled cucumber and carrot, thin radish rounds and vibrant salmon roe.
Black coconut rice is served cold and was a little stodgy but oh-so-pretty and perked up with fresh berries, nuts, seeds and coconut flakes, while a tofu slab comes with warm mushrooms and is dressed with wakame, fish sauce and tart ponzu.
Venison, slow-cooked in filter coffee for eight hours, makes a great match with coleslaw and wasabi mayo on a "rustic roll' from Sonoma, and an irresistibly flaky house-baked umeboshi danish (with Japanese pickled plum) puts to rest any doubt about the Japandinavian fusion. It's meant to be.
DO… drink a lot: tea, coffee, soda – it's all good.
DON'T… expect the usual eggs, bacon, avocado combos.
DISH… smorrebrod – Danish-style open sandwich with smoked salmon, creme fraiche, pickles.
VIBE… Japandinavia meets Sydney – sparse, simple, stylish, and coffee-obsessed.