Handmade tea vessels and sake bottles. Spoons, whittled from a single piece of wood by his 67-year-old father. Washi paper – with hay throughout – for wallpaper. It’s all about the details at Yu Sasaki’s second space. Behind a noren (Japanese curtain) and a roller door, a tiny restaurant transports visitors to Japan via a wraparound bar made of Tasmanian oak.
For Sasaki – whose cafe Cre Asion became popular for its quality matcha drinks and sweets – memories and reverence for his hometown are at the core of his 25-seater restaurant. In the mountainous Shimane Prefecture where Sasaki grew up, he was exposed to quality produce and craftspeople.
The daily-changing menu is a fusion of his Japanese style and Australian produce – what is available from his fishmonger and (mostly organic) farms. It is separated into five sections: meat, seafood, vegetable, sides, and hitokuchigashi, or sweeter things that can be eaten in one bite. A vegetable offering might be soft, smoked eggplant on a round of buckwheat (a grain his hometown is famous for), topped with a sake, plum and dashi jelly. A meat selection might be grilled duck, sliced to reveal its pinkness, alongside meatballs and delicate rounds of leek.
But the concept goes beyond food. Celebrating his hometown – from local pottery, to the tea (whether sencha with sakura leaves, or hojicha) from Tousuien Tea Company in Izumo City – is what the humble, wildly creative Sasaki is most happy about.