107 Addison Road, Marrickville
Arriving at Kurumac, its black front-step catches the eye. Incorporating an unusual tilted slope, it almost feels sculptural. Or maybe it's just an easier angle to back a pram over, judging by the various mother and baby groups inside readying for a late breakfast.
Kurumac’s dove-grey walls, stained-glass windows, and soft raw wood tables provide a calming atmosphere in this Japanese-Australian cafe. Credit:Christopher Pearce
Just as we are immediately calmed by this contemporary Japanese-Australian cafe's dove-grey walls, uncluttered stained-glass windows, Art Deco opaque glass lights and soft raw-wood tables and benches – so are three contented babies gnawing at sushi rice while laid-back jazz plays in the background.
One of the few Japanese restaurants in the inner west, Kurumac was opened by Eugene Leung and Dika Prianata just over a month ago.
Outside it's the dusty, oddball mix of Addison Road's new cafes, established and boarded-up shops and Federation houses sandwiched between red-brick industrial buildings.
Inside it's the epitome of ordered calm. High white moulded ceilings, a muted pastel wall mural by art collective Ar-chive and freshly sanded benches and chairs with curved edges you want to run your hand over. Things are neat and uncluttered: anchored by a white La Marzocco coffee machine, sparingly hung art and, framed by a side window – a Wilson basketball pot plant hanging by chains, a nod to Leung's love of NBA.
The spicy cod roe melt is a zingy open toastie with melted tasty cheese on a thick slice of Japanese milk bread. Credit:Christopher Pearce
Kurumac is Leung's second Japanese cafe, named after the Kirribilli cafe Cool Mac he opened 10 years ago. Kuru is Japanese for cool which, in the case of the Addison Road premises – previously the site of a Peruvian restaurant – underlines the tranquil and unfussy East-West fusion throughout.
We're oohing over the onigiri rice-ball set which comes with miso soup, two seaweed-wrapped sushi rice balls stuffed with pickled greens, and plump tamagoyaki – a sliced bar of golden sweet and savoury rolled omelette.
This is followed by a spicy cod-roe melt, a zingy open toastie with a curling zig-zag of pink fish egg over melted tasty cheese on a thick slice of shokupan, Japanese milk bread.
Grilled salmon congee follows: a proper comfort dish. This lushly soft and milky rice porridge topped with silky salmon pieces and crispy salmon skin is eagerly shared.
The Onigiri rice ball set comes with comes with miso soup, two seaweed-wrapped sushi rice balls and sweet and savoury rolled omelette. Credit:Christopher Pearce
Kurumac's engrossing menu features nine all-day dishes and five lunch offerings served after 11am. It ranges from Japanese-style white toast served with seaweed butter to curry scrambled eggs with prawn tempura, green tea soba noodles, ox tongue curry and a wagyu beef and shrimp fritter. A nearby table has been served a simple but alluring assortment of sashimi with sushi rice.
The popular Mapo hojicha gelato milkshake is unavailable because they've run out of the Newtown gelato shop's green tea gelato. But, on a second visit, it's back and the strong roasted-tea flavour is punchy and refreshing in the creamy froth.
Two flat whites, using Campos Superior blend, come creamy and strong. Matched with a chubby salted caramel buttercream biscuit and a Danish pastry from the Bread and Butter Project, we feel as at peace as the decor.
Everything has been lovely. Beautiful food, attentive service, dishes served on handmade Japanese ceramics and a hushed view of Addison Road's gritty bustle. The babies are all sleeping so we tip-toe out, back into the fray.
Main attractions: Deeply Zen cafe space melding soft light-grey walls with Art Deco light fixtures, raw wood furnishings, muted pastel mural art and a sense of ordered calm.
Must-try dish: Grilled salmon congee – filling, hearty and brimming with fresh slabs of fish, crispy salmon skin, rich and velvety rice porridge and greens.
Insta-worthy dish: Spicy cod-roe melt because no one will believe you're eating peppery fish eggs with melted tasty cheese on milk-bread toast for breakfast.
Drinks: Campos coffee, $4 to $5; loose leaf teas $4.50; brewed chai, $4.50; matcha latte $4.50; Ma-po hojicha gelato milkshake $9.50; Ma-po green tea gelato milkshake, $9.50.
Hours: Mon-Sun, 7am-3.30pm
IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
23-29 Addison Road, Marrickville
In a svelte, velvet-chaired and glossy table-top retro diner space designed by Luchetti Krelle – known for Banksii, Terminus and Longrain Tokyo interiors – the mood is still homey and welcoming. Join the big community table and tuck into coffee-rubbed pork hash or hand-rolled saffron pasta from a diligently innovative menu created by chef Michael Smith, formerly of Brewtown and Otto. Finish by licking a sugar and cinnamon pretzel with a cooling gin cocktail.
253 Addison Road, Marrickville
Between the native Illawarra plum and apple muffins and vegan double-decker special, the Reuben Lonesome, (featuring housemade corned beef, sauerkraut and creamy Russian dressing), this friendly vegetarian cafe never wilts in its lip-smacking plant-based food mission. Try the crispy fried faux-duck or the door-stopper-sized two-"cheese" and tomato toastie, and then order one of their splendiferous vegan custom cakes adorned with fruits, velvety icing and big native flowers.
MARRICKVILLE PORK ROLL
236 Illawarra Road, Marrickville
The line that snakes out of Marrickville Pork Roll's hole-in-the-wall shop is not dictated by being the hottest, latest, coolest food experience. Serving banh mi rolls for 11 years, this tiny Vietnamese shop offers mighty bread rolls stuffed with hot or cold pork strips, chicken or pate along with thick and crunchy pickled vegetables, homemade sauce and properly hot chilli, all for around $6.
THE MARRICKVILLE HOTEL
244 Marrickville Road, Marrickville
"Marrickville – The Greatest Country on earth!" So says a sign at this easy-going, dog-friendly bar, known as a small-bar pub and now occupying a space once occupied by a $2 shop. Perch at the l-shaped bar, at small candle-lit tables or out the back at timber alfresco tables for beer, cocktails, wine, toasted sandwiches and meat and cheese plates.
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