Spread over two rooms and an outdoor courtyard, the 30-seat Papirica – an Ainu Japanese word meaning “good harvest year” – is simple and inviting. There’s indoor plants, second-hand furniture (including an old school desk), a blue floor and knick-knacks from Matsuda’s life, such as his Hokkaido bear sculpture.
Papirica’s simple menu includes Osaka-style okonomiyaki in vegetarian, vegan or pork options, with mochi rice cakes, cheese and kimchi add-ons.
There’s also teriyaki chicken or nasu dengaku (vegan grilled-eggplant) sandwiches; a small breakfast menu with toast, scrambled eggs French toast with maple syrup, orange blossom and homemade jam. And matcha tiramisu for dessert. Drinks include hojicha (hot charcoal-roasted green tea) and mugicha (cold barley tea).
Although his okonomiyaki is traditional in form, Matsuda is creative with the ingredients. Instead of normal Japanese yams – which are hard to find in Melbourne – he uses okra and potato in his batter.
He prepares many ingredients from scratch, too, such as his replacement tenkasu (deep-fried flour puffs), made with dried soybeans deep-fried in sesame oil.
He also makes his own okonomiyaki sauce, which normally calls for ingredients such as ketchup, Worcestershire and MSG. His version is entirely natural.
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