The 30-minute drive east from Perth to Kalamunda isn’t particularly noteworthy. But as you begin weaving your way towards the Kalamunda National Park, the quaint, leafy town of Kalamunda emerges. The village offers access to bush walks, farmers markets and a thriving wine scene, and if you do catch a view of Perth in the distance, it looks to be a lifetime away.
That feeling grows when you stumble upon Kishi. The hole-in-the-wall style Japanese restaurant will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s travelled to Japan. It has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it exterior on Hayne’s Street, marked by a fox mural – a nod to the Shinto philosophy and Katsune (fox) folklore.
Inside, dusty sake bottles and cultural knick-knacks line the walls. It’s as if you could be back in Hakuba after a long day skiing, or hidden down a side-alley off Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing. If you’ve never eaten in Japan, Kishi is a fine representation of what to expect.
Opening in 2012, the restaurant is named after its sushi master from Osaka. Kishi feeds a plethora of customers, but most often answers to nostalgic travellers. “We set out to create something that would be realistic and traditional for people who, for lack of a better word, are xenophiles,” says owner and chef Jino Staveley. “They’ve worked in Japan, been to Japan, been skiing in Japan, and have a hankering for the feeling of a traditional, small Japanese place.”
While Kishi is fairly unknown to the urban CBD resident, word of mouth is strong. “I don’t put any onus on that stuff,” says Stavely, “but you cant deny it’s there. I’m just trying to give people good food. When you get people like my mate here last night said, ‘that’s probably the best piece of salmon I’ve had,’ that’s all I need. That keeps you going because you feel like you’re on the right track.”
That “piece” is Kishi’s salmon teriyaki – a pan-fried helping of the delicacy, served Donburi or Bento style. As with any trip to Japan, miso soup and edamame accompaniments are a must. If sashimi, soba noodles, and takoyaki (octopus dumplings) aren’t your thing, the chicken katsu is a failsafe choice. Staveley tries to keep the menu seasonal, as per the Japanese way. “You can buy nearly everything we use but we make as much as we can in-house,” says Staveley. “When we first started I even pickled the ginger.” But with the venue’s growing popularity, Staveley has had to acquiesce to already available fine ingredients.
According to Staveley, Kalamunda is rising as a food destination ripe for exploration. “Like most councils, it’s run by bloody dinosaurs,” he laughs. “But they’re starting to do a few artistic things.” He lists Jack & Jill, Haynes Street Larder, Mason & Bird and The Cavern as just some of the establishments here raising the bar for the shire’s food scene. All the more reason to head east.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with the new Honda HR-V, the perfect partner for exploring the best dining destinations around town.