Miki and Takumi Marui are adamant about delivering authentic Japanese cooking. “We don’t do shortcut way for cooking. We need to be able to introduce dishes to the customer that we think has the best taste,” says Miki.
They know their stuff. Before Bon Japanese the Tokyo-born pair owned Katsu Yachiyo in Surry Hills, a place well known for near-religious adherence to from-scratch cooking methods. Takumi also worked in Tokyo and at Sushi-e in Sydney.
“Some people come for the first time expecting everything to be made in 10 minutes. We want everyone to go home happy, but if people expect Japanese food to be very quick, we can’t make them happy.”
An incredible amount of preparation goes into every dish at Bon Japanese, from the izakaya (tapas-style) items and the sashimi, to the noodle dishes. For the tonkotsu (pork-bone stock) and torigara (chicken stock) ramen alone, Takumi spends two days perfecting the soup base, marinating the boiled eggs and preparing the bamboo shoots.
The narrow slices of chashu pork take another two days. Where many ramen makers use pork loin, Bon Japanese uses the more tender, delectably fatty pork belly, which Takumi painstakingly hand-rolls and grills. A faint flavour of char from the meat colours the salty soup, creating a rich mix of flavours.
Considering the amount of labour that goes into every ingredient, Bon Japanese is good value. Rent on this unloved strip of noisy Canterbury Road must be cheaper than Surry Hills, and the Maruis run the restaurant single-handedly: Takumi in the kitchen and Miki on the floor. It makes it hard to keep up with service when the restaurant gets busy, but the food is worth the wait.
Although the space is simple, the quirk of Marui’s personalities can’t be disguised. At first glance the artworks seem like traditional Japanese prints, but look closely and you’ll notice the samurai’s robe is covered with skulls, and the traditional Nou-dancers are actually cats.
163 Canterbury Road, Canterbury
(02) 9718 7139
Mon and Thu to Sun 12pm–3pm, 5.30pm–10pm