The drive between Perth and the south-west is peppered with pit stops, from bakeries to beaches. Now, Paddy’s Patties – a low-key burger bar perched on Bunbury’s Koombana Bay – is another reason to pull over and stretch the legs. Especially since chef Norio Idei took over the kitchen.
Wondering why Idei’s name sounds familiar? Before taking over the burger bar with his wife Yuki (the Ideis, who bought Paddy’s Patties in March 2019, are the business’s fourth owners) Norio spent four years as the main fry guy at specialist Margaret River tempura restaurant, Miki’s Open Kitchen, where his seemingly Teflon-coated hands pluck deep-fried seafood from hot oil the way you and I might pull the plug from a sink of tepid water. Although Paddy’s Patties might be a change of scenery and pace, Norio still finds opportunities to stretch his legs and flex his ability and know-how.
The mince in the patties, for instance, is a custom mix of Angus rump, chuck and brisket sourced from the sprawling Bunbury Farmers Market where Norio worked for a year before buying Paddy’s. Guests can choose to have their burger served with either a brioche bun or a white roll from a local bakery. The crunchy, brittle chips are hand-cut from local potatoes, twice-cooked and seasoned with an Italian-style dried herb mix. The best moments, however, are when Norio looks inward for inspiration.
“We’ve tried to introduce some Japanese flavours to our menu,” says Norio who was born in Okayama City in Japan’s west. “We’ve kept the previous owner’s menu to keep a lot of existing customers happy, but we’ve also changed a lot of things.”
While Paddy’s is sticking to its beetroot-in-a-burger guns – hurrah! – the menu also offers things like a chicken katsu burger enriched with house-made katsu sauce, Mos Burger-style rice burgers made with “buns” of rice and yakiniku (grilled, thinly sliced beef), plus hefty sandwiches such as the Cowie Bomie that combines a beef patty and fish katsu fillet in a south-west-WA-meets-Japan-style surf ‘n’ turf.
Initially, the Ideis bought Paddy’s Patties with a view to running it for six months and then reopening it as a Japanese udon noodle restaurant. Strong support from Paddy’s existing customers convinced the Ideis to rethink their plans and put their noodle aspirations on hold. While Norio still harbours dreams of opening his own Japanese restaurant one day, he’s happy to create burgers inspired by international flavours including European and and Mexican cuisines. (The first time I visited, a copy of the Phaidon book Tacopedia was on-hand as reading material).
Norio is also dedicated to supporting local produce and producers. While the Bunbury Farmers Market supplies many of the ingredients found in the kitchen, Norio also sources free-range eggs and avocados direct from farmers. This decision isn’t just about maximum deliciousness and keeping money in the local economy, it’s also a way for Norio and Yuki to plug into the local community.
“There’s a really good community here in Bunbury,” says Norio. “The people next door at Happy Wife cafe introduced me to the egg people. Someone else introduced me to the avocado grower. Everyone’s so helpful. Bunbury is a really nice place for us to live.”