How do you establish and remain an industry leader for over 20 years?
I suggest a visit to Simon Denton’s new Japanese eatery and bar named Kappo and enjoy the considered reinvention of Nama Nama, the clever udon noodle bar / lunch model which possibly generated more variables as opposed to desirables in an ever changing market with $10 lunch boxes in mind.
So if it’s not working, change it! It's the only way to stay ahead of the pack. But don’t change your values, what you enjoy, or what inspires you. I suggest this has been the thinking behind it.
Kappo essentially meaning a venue that riffs on traditional and sophisticated Japanese cuisine. It does feel sophisticated, whilst also being approachable and enlightening to the most experienced and enthusiastic customers - this was our finding.
The ground floor venue has been respectfully transformed into a controlled and elegant Isakaya. The bar becoming a show kitchen for the Zen like talents of chef and sommelier.
Kappo offers 3 set menus showcasing seasonal produce highlights and traditional Japanese foods with a modern touch: Hajimeni– the introduction (5 courses @ $80); Kanshin– the interest (7 courses @ $110); Odoroki– the surprise (9 courses @ $140);
The wine and sake pairing are exceptional, with subtle and engaging knowledge from the Italian sommelier, and our dining highlight of the year!
Our choice of Kanshin– the interest was indeed just that! Watching the calmness of the chef working with precision and dedication, whilst owner Simon narrated the important flavours to enhance the sommeliers choices to savour with unusual natural wine selections countered with harmonious sake selections.
The menus seemed to be constructed around seasonal highlights and harmonious exotic beverages.
Vegetables star equally at Kappo, which was perfect for my not so piscatorial guest. Our first dish showcased the understated Kohlrabi (a radish with sweet apple like flavours). Slow cooked, it became delicate and savoury - a perfect start with the sparkling Cremant wine from the Yarra valley.
This set the tone for many more light textural dishes with interesting textural wines and sake. Always in sync, one never overpowering the other.
My first seafood dish was a respectful DIY seafood tartar. Pristine seafood cut with precision, served in individual spoons with subtle and respectful condiments of lime, wakame, pickled zucchini and textural black rice cracker crumbs which allowed each element to shine.
Dishes became more robust with refined red wine introductions. The slow cooked and elegantly prepared pork belly reminded me why certain proteins should never go out of fashion. This was followed by a wonderfully comforting rice & cabbage dish, reminding us why rice is so revered in this gastronomy!
The excitement continues with desserts where whimsy and incredible sake matches leave you wonderfully intoxicated and satisfied, without the feeling of overbearing indulgence.
I haven’t eaten and drank this well for a long time in Australia and Kappo has restored my faith of how important it is being true to your talents!
What Wilson says -A Zen of iniquity.
When can we go -
Dinner: Monday - Saturday 6pm to 10pm (L.O. 9.30pm)
Lunch: Friday from 12noon (L.O. 2pm)