Solar Liang and Monique Wu opened the cosy Cafe Lafayette on Port Melbourne’s beachfront in 2015. In November 2018 they upgraded to the larger Grand Lafayette, an all-day Japanese eatery in a quiet side road just off High Street, Prahran.
It has an all-you-can-eat dinner menu. For $32.80 you can load up on chicken kaarage with black chilli vinegar, bao stuffed with fall-apart pork belly and kimchi-infused teriyaki sauce, salmon tataki with sweet potato chips, and 48-hour slow-cooked Black Angus steak.
The tuna maki is a fun standout. It’s a roll filled with tuna, cream cheese and sakura flakes (made from freeze-dried cherry blossoms), sliced and coated in tempura batter before being deep-fried. This isn’t sushi as you know it.
Over-the-top Freaky Shakes are amped up with made-for-Instagram ingredients such as candied popcorn, mini Kit Kats, pretzels and Nutella. There are also barely-set blobs of jelly topped with flavoured syrups (rose, green tea, mint or straight up brown sugar), known as “Raindrop Cakes”.
The look is seaside-in-the-city. The lofty ceiling leaves most of the pipes bare, and light comes in from the floor-to-ceiling windows that make up the front wall. Murals by artist Danielle Weber adorn the walls – there’s one inspired by latte art, and the other a map of the world. Much of the concrete is left bare, with a few potted plants hanging from steel grills.