Could Peel Street be the start of a Little Tokyo in Collingwood?

First Tokyo Bike cycle shop, then Aka Siro lunch spot and recently Mina-no-ie cafe from the folks behind Japanese-style cafe and shop Cibi (also in Collingwood).

Part the door curtains and step into cosy Aka Siro and you really could be in a backstreet neighbourhood joint in Japan. The bustling kitchen prepares home-style Japanese food along one wall while the seating is squeezed in narrow rows along the length, with Japanese cushions lining the wooden benches.

Aka Siro’s selling point is authentic, simple Japanese cuisine that will nourish your soul and your stomach. There’s no hidden trickery here – the stoves are there to inspect and fresh produce is presented as part of the decor.

The menu lists eleven teishoku meal sets ie a hot dish served with rice, salad and home-made miso soup which they clearly state is not packet-based. What a difference in taste too!

I tried the San Sai Teishoku ($16) which is merely described as three different types of dishes including a Japanese omelette. My three dishes turned out to be three vegetarian items that I couldn’t identify other than ‘beans’,  ‘tofu’ and ‘vegetables’ (so if someone could help me, I’d be grateful). Regardless, the plate held simple, honest flavours which combined well with the rice and soup to make a healthy, filling meal which I could imagine my non-existent Japanese grandmother serving me for my well-being.

B had the fragrant soup ($12) with minced chicken balls and a mix of daikon, Chinese cabbage and mushrooms. As denoted by the fiery red colour the soup was spicier than you’d expect Japanese food to generally be and with the dumplings I guess you could consider it the Japanese equivalent of comforting matzo ball soup.

There are many other teishoku I would like to try on the menu so I’ll definitely be returning…if I can get a seat.

Aka Siro, 106 Cambridge St, Collingwood 

Tue-Sun, 11am to 4pm

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