It’s been 10 years since Jun Abe left Yokohama to live in Adelaide, but it was only late last year that he opened Black Dog Gallery café at Tusmore. In the meantime, he’s been surfing at Parsons Beach and making coffee at Glenelg’s Pure Espresso. So, as well as contemporary Japanese food, you can expect good coffee at Black Dog Gallery.
Abe has never actually worked in a Japanese kitchen, but that’s not the reason you don’t see teriyaki and tempura dishes on the menu.
“In Japan, we don’t eat much of that,” he says. “What we’re doing here is like what my grandma cooks, but upgraded to restaurant quality.”
In seven months, Abe has gained a following for his Japanese breakfast menu featuring dishes of ramen, miso, soba and tofu, accompanied by house-made pickles and ferments.
But although there are some unfamiliar Japanese ingredients listed on the menu, Black Dog is not highbrow. It’s a casual place serving the kinds of dishes that, once brought to the table, most diners will recognise – noodle bowls, omelettes, pancakes, bagels, burgers and salads.
“I would describe Black Dog as hip with a mix of Japanese food and café culture,” says Abe, who named the café after his black dog, Kuro, and the fact that it also serves as a gallery for local artists and Japanese handmade craft. “All the art is for sale.”
Favourite dish: Matcha Green Tea Pancake ($16). This enormous puff of bright green pancake topped with whipped cream, kuromitsu brown sugar syrup, azuki beans, flowers, fresh fruit and snow pea sprouts is big enough to share. It’s also pretty and tasty enough to make up for its confronting size and colour.
Other dishes: Black Dog has plenty to offer vegetarians, vegans and gluten-intolerant diners and, if it wasn’t for the omelette component, Veg Love ($18) would cover all bases. Veg Love is a refreshing dish of four rolled Japanese omelette slices served with pickled zucchini and carrot “fettuccine” with yuzu dressing, broccolini fronds with seeded mustard soy dressing, asazuke wombok (pickled cabbage), a side of koshihikari (sushi rice) and a serve of miso soup.
One of the many ramen dishes available with a choice of toppings at Black Dog is the Sapporo Miso ramen with Spicy Negi Char-Sui ($17.50). Made with Australian-made ramen noodles served in a salty, smoky broth and topped with salted soft-boiled eggs, slices of roasted pork and corn kernels, this is a substantial and satisfying meal.
Something sweet/to drink: Apart from the Matcha Green Tea Pancake, other sweet dishes on the menu include Chai and Coconut Chia Pudding with poached pear, roasted rhubarb and candied pecan ($14); Japanese Pumpkin and Walnut Loaf with vanilla cream anglaise, rhubarb jam and date butter ($12), and a selection of tarts and brownies behind the glass counter.
Black Dog is unlicensed but the Japanese tea is a specialty. InDaily chose a pot of Genmaicha – or popcorn – tea ($4.80) with its savoury Sencha tea leaves and roasted and popped rice grains. Genmaicha tea originated from using rice as a filler to pad out tea leaves and the nutty flavour added by the roasted rice became popular.
Black Dog Gallery
4/455 Greenhill Road, Tusmore, 0455 463 432
Open Tuesday to Friday, 7.30am till 4pm; Saturday and Sunday, 8am till 4pm.