There’s little more than tables and chairs on the restaurant floor at Mr Joe, but that only adds to its charm.
Owners Martin and Yang Sun (also of Brunswick’s Steam Junkies) have given this spot the laid-back familiarity of Tokyo’s izakayas (Japanese snack-and-drink bars), with a minimalist design.
Textured concrete walls and plywood tables create a stripped-back aesthetic. Grey curtains, navy-blue tiling and a handful of lunar-eclipse wall lights stop the space from feeling sterile. Loud music adds an inner-city buzz.
On the brunch menu you’ll find fluffy soufflé pancakes with sweet red-bean paste, verjuice-pickled peach, matcha syrup and citrus mascarpone; crabmeat croquettes with avocado, yuzu miso cream and salmon roe; and a five-seed cracker with oyster mushroom, black fungus and blue-cheese dressing.
The night menu is much larger and brings in Chinese and Thai elements. Start with the miso-glazed eggplant and the tuna carpaccio – pan-seared, flecked with salmon roe and fanned out on a bed of green vegetables – then try gyumeshi (a rice bowl topped with beef and onion in a slightly sweet sauce), or Szechuan fried chicken.
There’s Suntory beer and a wine list of Australian and New Zealand drops. There’s also an approachable, fruit-heavy cocktail menu, and a small selection of Japanese whisky and sake.