Recognised the second I entered Bon Japanese Restaurant, I was surprised to find it wasn’t for being a food writer for the last ten years, but for the frequency of my lunchtime visits to Katsu Yachiyo.
After selling this restaurant they owned and operated (since 2013) back in February, this friendly husband and wife duo, Takumi and Miki Marui, have brought their talents to Canterbury. At Bon Japanese Restaurant, which they opened at the end of July, they are delivering a well-priced and homely Japanese menu that captures much of what I loved about their Surry Hills spot.
This includes little surprises – like a creamy pot of potato salad – which add a warmth and generosity to your dining experience. They even welcome BYO wine (or sake) on a Saturday night.
Moro Cu Carrot ($5) is just the sort of every-day Japanese crudités dish you can expect to find on the menu here. It teams perfectly round batons of daikon and carrot, and crunchy cucumber sticks, with a chunky miso dip with rice grains called moromi miso.
It’s so healthy you can afford to indulge in a crumbed, deep-fried Cream Croquette ($8) made with crab meat.
Working the same turf, Fry Hotate ($9) serves up perfectly toothsome, crumbed, deep-fried scallops with a duo of Japanese BBQ and creamy house-made tartare sauces.
It's hard not to feel like you're getting a bargain when you're delivered eleven pieces of Small Assorted Sashimi ($15/11 pieces) for fifteen bucks, especially when the quality - particularly the creamy coil of shiso-rolled squid - is excellent across the board.
A slightly loose rice mix made the Moreton Bay Bug Tempura Roll ($14) a little challenging for those of us who didn’t grow up using chopsticks.
I have no such complaints about the lightly seared Aburi Scampi ($12/2 pieces), presented on one of the blue ceramic fish-design plates I most associate with this couple.
Almost sliding into the earthenware plate design, Caramelised Miso Cod ($14) - a grilled, miso-marinated fillet of black cod - is certainly no retiring violet when it comes to flavour. Served with a pile of pickled ginger it's a lovely way to cap off your meal.
Dining in right at the end of September, I was lucky enough to also squeeze in a warming bowl of Oden ($12), a traditional Japanese winter favourite. It’s a light, dashi broth filled with different fish cakes, daikon (white radish), boiled egg, and konnyaku (potato cake) that you won’t find in very many Japanese restaurants in Sydney – in fact I’ve only had it twice myself.
With the wider menu extending to hotpots, ramen, udon and Japanese curry, there are plenty of reasons to make this your Japanese local if you live in the Canterbury area, not least of which being Miki's heartfelt service.
Bon Japanese Restaurant
163 Canterbury Road, Canterbury
Ph: (02) 9718 7139