Kantaro Okada is quietly building a hospo empire here in Melbourne. Okada is behind 279, Chiaki, Sebastian Kakigori, Le Bajo Milk Bar) and Leonie Upstairs. This month, the powerhouse will open a second location for Hareruya Pantry, his much-loved Japanese gelato and takeaway lunch stop on Lincoln Square underneath Leonie Upstairs.

The new location is hidden down Somerset Place right next to Blue Doors Coffee and is expected to open this month.

Hareruya Pantry is known for takeaway bento boxes, nikuman (steamed pork buns) and mochi-wrapped gelato in flavours like shirogoma (white sesame), ichigo milk (strawberry milk) and matcha. Manager Haruka Yamamoto, who helped open the first store in 2022, tells Broadsheet the CBD store will have an almost identical menu.

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Hareruya bentos and house-baked goods – including miso brownies, matcha cookies and delicate cup-sized castellas (honey sponge cakes) – will be delivered fresh from the Carlton store every morning. There’s enough fridge space for 12 gelato flavours (compared to eight available at the original store) and Yamamoto says the team plans to create some “experimental” city-exclusive scoops like black sesame hokey pokey.

Given the coffee shop neighbours, the team has decided not to offer coffee and will instead focus on milk-brewed teas (tea brewed directly in milk rather than water), a method that Yamamoto says makes for “beautifully creamy” drinks.

The new store will have some in-venue seating where people can relax – Yamamoto says the team is focused on creating a community space with “similar vibes to what we have at Carlton … because the city’s so hustle and bustle, we wanted to create a space that’s comforting”.

Hareruya Pantry CBD is expected to open at 27 Somerset Place this month.