When was the last time you went to a new cafe or restaurant and thought, “no one has done this before?” Here’s an opportunity: Kusuka is a tiny Haymarket eatery that’s both a trend-aware cafe and an Indonesian noodle bar.
“We have a bit of a spectrum. We have really Indonesian food – the sate (satay) sticks – and at the other end, there's really Western food. And then we have things in between,” says Kusuka’s co-owner Mario Georges, who’s joined by his partner Elizabeth Rimbo and several friends.
The regular cafe options are safe, such as acai bowls, poke and avocado on toast. The more interesting dishes are the Indonesian-skewed options: spicy fried chicken doused in molten mozzarella and Kusuka’s speciality, mee goreng topped with anything – bacon, hash browns, poached eggs, pork belly or sambal matah (a fresh Balinese chilli relish made with lime and shallots). “Almost a year ago now I was sitting with my wife and I thought I want to sell mee goreng noodles. They're the best noodles ever,” says Georges.
“We're inspired by a really big trend in Indonesia, the warung kopi. It's using Indo mee in a cafe context. It's huge over there but no-one has really done it here,” he says. There’s also an extensive drinks menu with Indonesian coffee, avocado shakes and watermelon lattes.
All of the above is barely half of what they do. There’s also Indonesian sate with rice cakes, martabak (a meat-filled flatbread), burgers and truffled eggs. For such a tiny cafe (with an equally miniature kitchen) the menu here is huge.
Due to its size, the cafe may seem takeaway orientated but that’s not really the case. Although the fit-out is simple and there’s only a handful of tables, there’s a cosy vibe that reflects the mood of many South East Asian street-side coffee houses.