Few countries share Australia’s obsession with specialty coffee like Japan. It makes total sense then, that Japanese-influenced cafes like St Kai have sprung up all over Sydney, delivering a world-class standard on the coffee side while stylishly remixing Western-style brunches with Japanese flavours in the kitchen.
In this case, a quiet corner in Mortdale is where you’ll find such things: bacon and egg milk buns with tonkatsu sauce; banana bread served with a dollop of matcha-infused yoghurt. Chef Yuki Bagel makes good on her name with a selection of hand-rolled hoops – choose NY-style with cream cheese and optional salmon; or a Tokyo-inspired number with braised veg under a blanket of melted cheddar (you can add Mama Liu’s chilli oil or a gooey 63-degree egg for a few extra bucks).
Things get more experimental at lunch, with cheeseburger donburi bowls piled with ground Wagyu beef, plus pickles and a fried egg served over rice and slathered in house sauce. There’s also thick udon noodles bathing in kombu soy broth with bacon, onion, mushrooms, shaved parmesan and “umami dust”, inspired by the Japanese “yoshoku” (Western-influenced) pasta dish, Spaghetti Naporitan. For something comforting and classic, go for the spicy tantanmen.
When it comes to coffee, St Kai is among the best – and most experimental – purveyors in South Sydney. Most brew methods are represented here, with beans provided by Diggy Doos and guest roasters on rotation. But you’ll also find rarities such as coffee flower tea, iced cascara and cold brew infused with maple lime hops. If coffee’s not your cuppa, there’s hot chocolate, tea by Teacraft, umami caramel shakes and matcha imported from Kagoshima, Japan.
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