With the weather firmly in summer temperatures last weekend, I decided to make a visit to Abbotsford Convent for some R&R in the sunshine.

What I didn’t realise was that Abbotsford Convent on a weekend is quite manic. The Sunday I visited the Skirt and Shirt Market and Maker’s Market was on as well so visitor numbers really swelled.

Nevertheless, I did find a quiet nook inside Kappaya. It’s part of the food complex housing the Convent Bakery and Lentil As Anything and like its neighbours it focuses on simple, organic food – in this case, with Japanese origins and described as ‘Japanese soul food’.

The small indoors space is really lovely to look at, with wooden counters and bench tables and cables dangling almost other-worldly ceramic lamp shades (there’s an outside area as well which melds into the tables of the neighbouring cafes). The kitchen is a bustling little corridor but I never felt harried by the almost-jogging staff, maybe because they were just so sweet and polite.

The café serves Japanese breakfasts or bento without the actual box. I chose a salmon bento ($12) consisting of a grilled fillet of salmon, brown rice studded with soy beans and sprouts, a rather bland tofu ball dotted with dark miso resting on a crumble of some sort of seed on top and an assortment of salad and seaweed. The dish comes out looking like a very pretty artist’s palette and it tasted as good as it looked, with subtle flavours and ever-changing textures.

I also managed to score the last green tea mousse ($7.50) and if you like desserts I highly recommend it. In fact, I’d go as far as to suggest that you order the mousse before you eat your lunch tp ensure that you don’t miss out! As far as mousses go it’s quite dense, more like a cheesecake. The top layer was mixed with a mild matcha powder while the bottom was a very subtle vanilla. The mousse itself wasn’t very sweet so it was matched with a drizzle of matcha syrup and crunchy honey biscuits – the biscuits also gave the mousse a cute afro hairdo.

What I really liked about the food at Kappaya was its wholesome goodness. Everything tasted as it should, with no adornment or trickery. Just fresh, simple flavours presented with care and served with a smile.

For other reviews of Kappaya, check out Addictive & Consuming and Eat Almost Anything. For more simple and great tasting Japanese food, try Cocoro or Yamato.

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