“Japanese Gratana” - brown rice in miso-flavoured béchamel sauce, with egg, ham and beans in a baking dish. Topped with salad and pickled ginger.
From Tana Café, Hawthorn.
A little off the beaten path in Hawthorn is the less-known strip of eateries on Church Street (near to the corner of Barkers Road), which is where the quirky-looking Japanese-fushion eatery Tana Café is located.
The place is small and slightly mis-matched in decorations, but that only adds to its charm. Run by Yoshikazu Tanaka (of ex Yu-U fame) and his wife Sachi, this place exudes genuine hospitality and a very ‘hip’ (yet surprisingly non-pretenious) vibe.
The menu - much like the café - is small and slightly mis-matched, flouncing between a simple Western brunch fare and some inventive Japanese flavours. All of it, however, sounds delicious. One of the more interesting dishes is the Japanese Gratana, which turned out to be a creamy-cheesey baked rice dish with ham, eggs, and beans. The richness was broken up by the miso flavour and the fresh salad with pickled ginger. The serving size at Tana is more Japanese than Australian - likely to be a good thing for the waistline.
Never having been a fan of fusion cuisine - which can go wrong so very easily, I was impressed with the ease of which Tana Café manages to balance Japanese flavours with modern Australian cuisine… adding, rather than detracting, from the dishes. A top recommendation goes to their matcha latté (Japanese green tea latté) which was smooth, flavoursome, and came in the cutest cup-and-coaster set.
It is easy to see why so many of the locals fall in love with the Tanakas’ eatery. With its delicious food, reasonable prices, and quirky charms, Tana Café is a great find.