Authentic Japanese breakfast is taking Melbourne’s food scene by storm. Who is to thank for this delicious miracle you ask? That would be newly opened Fitzroy cafe and restaurant, chotto.
chotto is the first venture from talented couple, Brendan and Caryn Liew. They wanted to share their combined love for Japan, its food philosophy, and the delicate flavours used in Japanese cuisine with the people of Melbourne through this pop-up cafe.
Brendan has an extensive background as a chef, having worked at Supernormal, Golden Fields and Kappo, as well as Michelin-starred restaurant, Nihonryori Ryugin in Japan. He has also travelled to Japan to study the cuisine and immerse himself in the food culture several times.
Brendan and Caryn have infused chotto with their passion for everything Japanese. While the venue is temporary – a six to 12 month venture is the initial plan – the couple have hopes of creating something more permanent in the future. This is one of the reasons the name chotto was chosen – in Japanese, ‘chotto’ means a moment, or for a short time, and as this is a temporary, pop-up cafe it was a perfect fit for the name.
The menu features two breakfast ‘sets’ that are served up until 3pm – a traditional Japanese breakfast consisting of a number of small dishes, and a Shojin breakfast set; the rest of the menu will change seasonally.
The current menu also includes ochazuke – rice served with dashi broth; nana kusa gayu – rice porridge with foraged herbs, poached chicken, nori and spring onions; and a super fluffy Japanese style hotcake. For those with a sweet tooth, the menu also offers a mouthwatering mandarin mille feuille.
The menu draws heavily on Japanese techniques, styles and flavours; favourites like chicken meatballs will be grilled over the slow embers of Japanese charcoal, and Japanese rice will be steamed in traditional earthenware pots, allowing for an authenticity like no other.
The beverage options are also inspired by Japan, with a number of teas sourced from Kyoto. Matcha and houjicha (Japanese green tea) lattes are available as is regular coffee from Melbourne specialty coffee roasters, Monk Bodhi Dharma. Chai and hot chocolate are also available to cater to those who need something a little sweeter, perfectly brewed with milk from Schulz Organic Farms.
The Japanese influence seeps into every aspect of chotto, including the minimalistic design of the venue. It is predominately white and furnished with stylish timber tables and chairs, a simple white pendant light hangs from the ceiling providing a soft light from which you can enjoy the beautiful fare.