Blink and you might miss Taiyo Sun, a tiny new Japanese cafe that’s wedged inside the corner of a recent development on St Georges Road.
In Japan, there’s a big emphasis on making things kawaii (broadly meaning “cute”) and – obviously – minimal. And owner Tats Kawabata has transplanted these principles very well at Taiyo Sun. The narrow 12-seat concrete space is about the size of a large utility room, with small wooden chairs and tables, cotton-clad light shades and an absurd but endearing amount of indoor plants. Everything you’d expect from an economical but thoughtful modern-day kissaten (Japanese cafe).
But it’s what’s outside that sets the tone here. Natural light flows in from the neighbouring Merri Creek parklands, which is visible through a series of large windows that command the long north-facing wall.
Kawabata, who is originally from Tokyo, says the space was “just a shell” when he moved in (literally, without running water or gas). Though he was happy to keep things “very minimal.”
His menu is similarly pared back, with 10 light Japanese-leaning breakfast and lunch options. Kawabata does not adhere to Melbourne’s sourdough supremacy, instead opting for fluffy white bread from Brioche by Philip. He slices it Japan-style (that is, about three times thicker than your wildest Wonder White dreams), with toppings such as homemade azuki (sweetened red bean paste) and matcha powder, black honeyed sesame paste, or hard-boiled eggs beneath a blanket of Japanese mayonnaise and melted cheese. He may have hit the kawaii superlike button with his Japanese vegetable curry, which he serves with a cheesy toasted croissant floating in the bowl.
Coffee comes from Wide Open Road, and milk from St David’s Dairy. The beverage list includes a large and interesting tea menu, with noteworthy inclusions such as lapsang souchong, grapefruit green and cherry-flavoured sakuranbo. Go for the blossoming jasmine flower for a bit of afternoon cuppa theatre.