TOP 100 QUEST: KAPPO, Melbourne
Kappo is a relative newcomer to Melbourne. It’s at 1 Flinders Lane – I’d been a couple of times before when it was Verge. Kappo is by the same team as Izakaya Den, former Melbourne Top 100. When you finally work out where the front door is, you walk down a dark hallway to a sleek, stylish dining room that seats a maximum of 30 people. We were offered the choice of booth seating or up at the bench. As much as I love booths, in this case it just had to be the bench so we could watch chef Kentaro Usami work his magic. Kappo’s food can be described as traditional with a modern touch. And where does the name come from? Kappo is a Japanese term for dining based around a number of small courses.
Step 1: Choose your menu: This is serious dining. You have a choice of three omakase menus: Hajimeni (“the introduction”) – 5 courses at $90, Kanshin (“the interest”) – 7 courses for $120 or the Odoroki (“the surprise”) – 9 courses at $150. Even though my dining partner had indulged in Banh mi that afternoon, and I’d enjoyed some party pies (see… I’m no food snob!), we still chose the 9 course option.
Step 2: Choose your chopsticks: We were presented a wooden box with 10 pairs of chopsticks to choose from. Nice!
Step 3: Have some sake.
Step 4: Choose a wine (we opted for a nice French riesling style) and then sit back and enjoy the food and the experience.
The food is elegant and delicate – it’s fresh, it’s clean and the flavours are mostly subtle and natural. You also experience the textural element – the bursting and spurting of salmon roe, the amazingly crunchy black rice, and I have to mention – the popping of the sea grapes which I’d never had before – stuff that foodgasms are made of. We loved it all, from the parcel of Miso-marinated tofu through to the Burnt brown sugar donuts with strawberry jelly that we washed down with the Japanese version of Limoncello made from yuzu – Yuzucello! Four hours later, we could safely say that we were well fed, well serviced and truly satisifed. A great night.