Lunar by Hikari is, as the name suggests, a new spot from the team behind Hikari, a petite, minimalist cafe and homewares shop on Swanston Street.
Owners Damien Xiao, Steven Yan and Derek Yang consider the venues mirrors of each other. “Hikari” translates from Japanese to mean “light”, and symbolises just that, and “lunar” is meant to represent serenity.
The contrast can be seen in the size and design of each space. While Hikari is a pint-sized, light-flooded spot, Lunar is a noticeably larger cafe where guests are encouraged to linger, and natural light comes through the front windows and is filtered out as you go further into the cafe. The industrial building’s original brick walls have been preserved and refreshed with grey and cream paint, complemented by wooden furniture and polished concrete floors.
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And while Hikari has become known for matcha and hojicha (roasted green tea), at Lunar it’s all about coffee. An extensive list of pour-over options sourced from 10 different Japanese roasters, including Kyoto roasters Weekenders Coffee and Coyote Coffee, are available from $10.
Espresso drinks are made using a blend of beans from North Melbourne brew bar and coffee roasters Path or Brunswick’s Code Black Coffee. There’s also a yuzu coffee spritz made by mixing cold brew and Japanese yuzu syrup with sparkling water.
Coffee pairs well with sweets like matcha cream and red bean paste-covered strawberries wrapped with mochi; emoji-perfect chiffon cakes; or yuzu cheesecake – Lunar’s take on a classic Basque cheesecake made with yuzu kajyu (or yuzu fruit juice) from Kochi, Japan.
“Lunar also gives us more possibilities for us to be a little more experimental,” Yang tells Broadsheet.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two venues is that while Hikari’s space limitations mean the cafe is only able to offer drinks and sweets, there are numerous savoury breakfast and lunch options available at Lunar.
Two highlights are the mentaiko onigiri, where cod roe buried in rice offers a burst of umami, and the prawn steak sando, a textured delight with tender prawn covered in a crisp crumb and served between slices of soft white bread.
Yang and the team have plans to expand Lunar’s offering into the evening and hope to eventually offer a seasonal dinner menu. “This building doesn’t get a lot of sunshine during the day, so I think it’s more suitable for a dinner set-up,” he says. They are also plans to set up a sake bar and offer a “finer level of izakaya” by night.
Lunar by Hikari
458 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
0431 483 067
Mon to Fri 9am–3pm
Sat & Sun 9am–4pm