Japas: a gastronomic fusion of Japanese and Tapas (appetisers or snacks)
In other words, a delicious selection of Japanese morsels made for sharing. Introducing Love Grub, a small ‘Japas’ cafe hidden away in Alexandria, about 10 minutes walk from Redfern station.
This cafe is very cosy and features seating both indoors and outdoor (similar to park benches). It looks like it can only fit about 15 indoors and our table of 6 easily takes up the entire front area. It is dimly lit and decorated in red and green, but somehow in a graffiti Asian style and not Christmasy at all.
Edamame: Lightly salted soy beans in the pod – $5
On a cold winters night, we begin our Japas adventure with four different types of tea: Gen Maicha, Lemongrass and Ginger, Chamomile and Green Tea. I personally love Gen Maicha; this is a roasted rice tea and is very aromatic and has an earthy-rice taste. Not long after, a large bowl of edamame comes out to kick us off for the night. I don’t see the appeal in edamame but some of my friends started devouring away.
Gyoza: Pork or Prawn Dumplings with Tsuyu Dipping Sauce – $9
The next Japas dish we received was the Gyoza, Japanese pan-fried dumplings. The Gyoza is nice and soft on the top yet cripsy on the bottom and has been fried very well. The fillings consists of pork, prawns, shallots and cabbage and the accompanying sauce is sweet and compliments the dumpling well. There is also some chilli powder sprinkled on top and I found that it was a bit overwhelming for my taste buds, so if chilli is not your thing the bottom pieces should be relatively free of chilli powder!
Salmon & Cream Cheese Sushi: salmon, avocado, cucumber, chives, tempura crunch and flying fish roe – $12
A classic Japanese dish to share, the ever delicious sushi! This dish as usual comes out with a small dish of soya sauce and wasabi. The rice was well seasoned with vinegar, salmon fresh and the vegetables and tempura added a nice crunch to what is usually a mushy dish. I couldn’t taste any cream cheese however, but that’s OK because I’m not a fan of cream cheese in my sushi.
Rice Balls: shitake and blue cheese, crumbed fried with spicy mayo – $8
“It looks just like fried ice cream!” Yvn exclaims in excitement.
But alas it was not. This dish consists of fried rice balls and it was quite interesting to our eyes, having never seen a rice ball fried before. When eaten it tastes a lot like a risotto ball except with a crispy exterior, however I find that there isn’t much taste except a lot of white pepper within the rice. A bit of a disappointment that I cannot taste any mushrooms or spicy mayo. Just white pepper.
Pork Katsu: crumbed pork belly with tonkatsu sauce – $10
Karaage Chicken: fried chicken pieces with lemon and spicy mayo – $10
The final two dishes consists of two plates covered with fried pork katsu and karaage chicken. The pork is crispy on the outside and nice and tender on the inside. The usual accompanying tonkatsu sauce has a slight vinegarette type flavour to it and tastes a lot better than the normal sauce! The chicken is also outstanding…to be honest it tastes EXACTLY like KFC. It has crispy skin, soft chicken meat and a good selection of seasons and spices. The only difference is that it comes with a slightly spicy mayonnaise sauce along with some squirted lemon juice which adds a good sour citrus balance.
Overall, the meal was delicious and trying some new Japas was an interesting experience. Unfortunately it seemed that the traditional Japanese foods were done to a much higher calibre than the fusion dishes (rice balls). But otherwise, a fairly good restaurant at affordable prices.
38 Mitchell Road
Alexandria NSW 2015
Ph: (02) 9318 2323