There are many things I love about eating at Kyoto Cafe. Over the last few months, I have been at least five times and I would still go back for more. Located at Eastland Town Square, the restaurant is very spacious, with outdoor and two-storey indoor seating. I like sitting outside because the lighting inside is a bit dim, making it hard to get good quality photos. In terms of indoor seating, there are booth seats, normal tables, as well as seating right in-front of the kitchen where you can see the chefs at work.
Although leaning on the expensive side (~$20), I would still recommend the bento boxes at Kyoto Cafe. Firstly, the bento boxes are very different from the bento boxes you see around Melbourne. Rather than serve the food in one big box divided into four sections (which is what is usually done), the bento boxes at Kyoto are served in various smaller boxes and plates scattered over a large tray. There is just so much going on visually. I remember when I ordered the bento for the first time, I sat for a minute, thinking “where do I even start?” For this reason, the presentation of the bento box at Kyoto Cafe gets a massive tick from me.
Presentation is one thing. What about taste? It was delicious.The bento comes in three flavors: Teriyaki Salmon, Teriyaki Chicken, or Wagyu Beef. I have only had the salmon and chicken bento. The salmon was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The chicken was cooked to perfection. Both had the right amount of sauce and flavour. I know many people may not give this a second a thought, but for me personally, I can’t stand it if food is covered in burnt black bits. I usually pick out those burnt bits before eating. Of the five times I have been to Kyoto, never has the pan-fried salmon or teriyaki chicken been burnt or overcooked.
All three bentos come with the same accompanying dishes. In one box, you get a rice paper roll, tamagoyaki (rolled egg omelette), tempura; takoyaki; dim sims; cold soba noodles; salad greens, and pickled tomatoes. In another box, you get steamed rice with sashimi and avocado, ginger, and Japanese peach. Then, you get to pick your choice of steamed egg or miso soup. There are also three accompanying sauces/ seasonings. You get soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, and matcha salt. If it is your first time ordering the bento, the waitress usually gives you a run-down of what food to dip into what sauce. I found that dipping anything into any of the three sauces was tasty haha. In terms of the accompanying dishes, I must give the pickled Japanese Peach a major mentioning and praise. At first, I thought the green oval thing sitting on my plate was an olive of some-sort. I am not a big fan of olives, so I was a bit weary of eating it. I took my first bite and oh my gosh, my taste buds immediately lit up. I could taste this peachy, sweet, slightly tangy flavour. I took another bite and I was like, “what is this? It is absolutely beautiful!” I later asked the waiter who told me it was a pickled Japanese Peach which they also sell at the counter in large green bottles (fyi).
Aside from the peach, I also really liked the steamed egg. I would chose that any day over the miso soup. The steamed egg was very smooth, with prawns and shiitake mushroom inside. As for the tempura, I am not a fan of fried food but for those who love their battered fried foods, Kyoto Cafe definitely gives you a generous amount. You get tempura prawn and pumpkin, a fried corn fritter, and a Japanese style potato croquette. On the flip-side, the rice paper roll was a bit on the borderline for me. It was bland and tasted very dry. I also didn’t really like having the sweet tofu skin wrapped inside. I guess dipping it in the soy sauce made it taste a bit better.This is just a personal thing, but I think the bento would have been better had the rice paper roll been replaced with sushi. Apart from that, the bento as a whole was really good and I would definitely recommend it (especially the teriyaki salmon one).
Aside from the bento boxes, I have also tried the teriyaki chicken crepe served with rice, Japanese mayo and lots of salad leaves. I didn’t like it as much as I did the bento because the crepe was a bit cold on serving. Nonetheless, it was still yum.I have also tried the teriyaki chicken bao ( my friend ordered the pork belly bao). Again, the flavour was there. The presentation was cute (in a wooden steamer), but it was a bit cold on serving.
Some other dishes that we ordered (which I didn’t get to try) include the Fried Chicken Curry, Vegetable Curry, Wagyu Beef Bento, Ramen, and Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake).
Kyoto Cafe have a wide selection of drinks to choose from. You can get various types of green teas, to lattes, to beers, to bubble tea. I have had the matcha latte, the apple ginger matcha drink, and the brown rice green tea. All drinks come with a sesame meringue which was very very sweet and chewy. The serving size of the matcha latte is a bit on the small side but the cup that it is served in is very cute. The apple ginger matcha drink is very refreshing- perfect for a hot summer’s day. I liked how the ginger taste wasn’t too overwhelming.
Now to dessert. Kyoto Cafe offers high-tea between 3pm-5pm. You get a selection of cakes on a tier-stand. I have never tried it before but it would make for good food photography . We ordered the green tea puff and the mango moose cake. The green tea custard was very yum, not overly sweet, with a nice matcha flavour. The puff, however, didn’t have that crisp texture I was after. The mango moose cake was pretty good. The top mango layer was very sour but the chocolate creme underneath was good in offsetting that sour taste Overall, I would recommend Kyoto Cafe for lunch or for dinner. Their food is always consistent, fresh, and never burnt. Although I haven’t tried everything on their menu, I would really suggest their bento boxes and their apple ginger matcha drink. In particular, I would suggest the teriyaki salmon bento with the steamed egg custard and the pickled Japanese peach.