Sori Cafe is a real neighbourhood treasure, an authentic Japanese/Korean cafe tucked away in Kensington. The kitchen is up a small flight of stairs at the back of the restaurant and (at lunch at least) the little ladies in gorgeous pressed aprons dart up and down, taking your order, running back up to flip the okonomiyaki, pattering back down with a bottle of water.
Complimentary banchan to start - traditional Korean tidbits eaten before the meal. Soft, surprisingly buttery potato and carrot; a tasty folded egg omelette; zucchini cooked with sesame oil (delicious - one to make at home). Check out the kid-friendly portion and crockery!
Fried dumplings (gyoza), $6.50
Little slippers of crunchy goodness, filled with soft vegie mash. The pastry is actually quite crisp like a cracker. The little side salad had a quite divine creamy sesame dressing. Delish!
Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), $6.50
Home-style Japanese pancake - a thick batter mixed with here shredded cabbage and a little diced octopus. This was just lovely - the tonkatsu or Japanese BBQ sauce was here a home-style relish, almost jam-like, which contrasted with the sweet, creamy Japanese mayo. These are my go-to shopping centre secret - they are tasty, filling, sort of healthy and usually cost about $4.
Something for the last breath of summer - a warm salad of raw salmon and fresh salad vegies atop warm rice, the yin to bibimbap yang. Drizzled with thick, mild Korean chilli bean sauce and mixed up, it was simple, honest, refreshing yet satisfying. The miso was excellent, totally authentic. In recent times Sori Cafe seem to have shrunk their lunch menu to the classics, so visit at dinnertime to try the full menu including japchae, stir-fried sweet potato noodles.
Exterior - check. Food - check. Interior - we could not resist the sunshine and so had sat outside, so how to get this last shot? I put my camera on the counter, fumbling in my bag for my wallet while trying to corral the kids and hoping the moment would present itself. "Are you a blogger?" said the waitress. "Erm, yes, I am..." I trailed off uncertainly. "Don't worry," she winked. "So am I."
174 Bellair St, Kensington (map)
Phone: 9372 2025
Hours: Mon-Sat, lunch 11.30am-3pm, dinner 5pm-10pm