The deli with a difference
KINOKO DELI Shop 8, Trafalgar on Collins, 110 Collins St Open Monday to Saturday 9am- 5pm Unlicensed, 6223 6519
KINOKO is Hobart’s first Japanese deli and specialty grocery store since David Quon’s little place in Salamanca back in the 1980s.
It is also a Japanese takeaway offering a much more interesting and diverse range of foods than is available in the many lunchtime sushi establishments around the CBD.
Opened in November, its shelves are stacked high with Japanese lollies; miso pastes; bonito and dashi stocks; red bean pancakes with chestnuts; roasted, shredded and powdered nori and other seaweeds; a range of pickles and relishes; green and barley teas; different rice varieties; beers; plum wines; and several sakes, including sake kasu, made from sake lees and traditionally used as a healthy, warming addition to miso soup.
It’s also one of the few places in Hobart offering pure wasabi powder, the latest product from the Shima producers in northern Tasmania.
The freezer section offers a selection of fish roes, soused mackerels, sausages, dumpling skins and even Japanese ice creams.
With such a well- stocked pantry for the kitchen to draw on, it’s not surprising the bain- marie offerings change and are prepared daily with each day’s menu posted on the deli’s Facebook page.
It is from the day’s selection of hot and cold dishes, salads, soups and a choice of white, brown and mixed fried rices, that you make up your own “bento box” – $ 12 for a main dish, two salads and rice; $ 16 for two mains, two salads and rice, or your selection of individually priced items.
On the day I visited, there was chicken
four ways – deep fried with house- made BBQ sauce, marinated with sansho pepper, teriyaki chicken and fried chicken called karaage served with an eggy, Japanese take on tartare sauce.
Accompaniments included a very refreshing cucumber salad with roasted sesame and ponzu marinade, a basic shredded carrot salad with white sesame seeds, plus their most popular dish – a salad of soba noodles with kombu and sesame dressing.
There was also vegetarian gyoza served with pickles and, best of all, the appropriately named and all- time favourite Japanese snack called okonomiyaki – essentially a cabbage pancake with “okonomi” meaning “favourite”.
A lunch of okonomiyaki plus some housemade tempura seaweed as a crunchy nibble spiced up with the kitchen’s love- it- or- hate- it ( I loved it) paste made from pounding dried nori together with sugar, sake and soy sauce, as served by the delightful, smiling Tomoko, is sufficiently evocative of the cherry blossoms of Japan to brighten up anyone’s winter day.