There is no cuisine finer than Japanese. It’s a well-recognized art form in sourcing, preparing, plating and presenting fine food with additional kudos due for its health benefits.
Fortunately, though we can’t travel to Japan at present, we can take a short drive and find ourselves in the back streets of Tokyo where Chef Koki, Junko and the team at Anekawa make us feel welcome.
Anekawa is a destination restaurant, tucked away into the corner of a hillside on Swan Lane, Mudgeeraba. It’s Chef Koki Anekawa’s namesake restaurant, his first following years as a chef in high end restaurants such as Rick Shores, Quintessence in Tokyo and Sydney’s Bistro Moncur.
Shuttered away behind Noren curtains, you’ll find a warm, intimate dining room with views into the kitchen beyond. Simple and minimalistic in natural tones, dark walls and exposed concrete set off timber accents and stone tables, the work of well-known designer OJ Thompson. It is further complemented by imported Japanese tableware and linen serviettes. Philosophically, this is the perfect aesthetic space to house Anekawa’s dining experience.
As it’s our first meal at Anekawa, we choose the Omakase menu where the chef decides the dishes to be shared. It’s a great move for newcomers who are as unfamiliar as we are with several dish elements. A cocktail and biodynamic, minimal intervention wine from the drinks list send us on our way:
The first three dishes are from the ‘Raw’ section of the menu. With the ultimate care, Chef Koki carefully selects high quality, sustainable Australian produce to prepare using traditional culinary techniques that date back centuries, some unique to his hometown of Saga, Kyoshu.
“Showing respect to the product is paramount, and freshness and quality of the produce dictates the menu daily,” the Anekawa website states.
Chef Koki champions ecologically sourced seafood. Fish is from Chris Bolton, a ‘Reef Guardian Fisher’ who uses hand lines to catch premium sashimi grade, in-season Queensland fish.
Featuring seasonal specialties of local varieties of fruit, vegetables, herbs and seafood sourced from growers and suppliers who focus on bio-diverse and sustainable organic produce, each dish is crafted from scratch to order, giving careful consideration to the ingredients.
We move on to entrees. Twists on known dishes bring new light to ingredients. Subtle seasoning and cooking are important highlights to the intricate flavours of the hero component of the dish, each single ingredient the finest that can be obtained. For example, the tamari is GMO and additive free, aged three years, the bamboo shoots harvested daily.
This housemade ‘gotofu’ is Anekawa’s signature dish and rightly so. It’s silky and fine, completely intriguing and delicious. Though we both admit we would not have chosen it from the menu, it’s one of our favourite dishes.
The small selection of ‘Mains’ changes regularly according to seasonal ingredient availability. Given the option of Braised fish head, we decline. Instead, we enjoy Mangrove Jack. Eye shy? Maybe next time.
Rice plays an important role in Japanese cuisine, gaining its own section in Anekawa’s menu. Using the culinary traditions and traditional clay pots from his hometown of Saga, Chef Koki’s rice is a staple regional dish. Cooked to order in a dashi broth, the rice develops a crispy base in cooking much prized by Japanese diners.
Of course, there’s dessert, but our hearts have already been stolen by the seafood and tofu.
In summary, Anekawa is a true dining experience. Visually its blend of traditional and modern is very exciting, its harmony aesthetically pleasing. Anekawa’s menu is groundbreaking, pushing boundaries by blending foods we know with uncommon elements (such as mountain caviar) in a completely different way. Chef Koki’s commitment to quality and sustainability in every aspect is as close to perfection as we’ve ever seen. And there’s more…
Chef Koki explains that the spiritual dimension of ‘shokunin’ is also important, not just the literal meaning of ‘craftsman’ or ‘artisan,’ but also the deeper meaning of social consciousness, ‘…the social obligation to work his/her best for the general welfare of the people.’
Culturally, Anekawa takes us on a journey to regional Japan at a time when many of us long for a break from the turmoil of world events. With multiple overlays to consider about the place of food as true sustenance in our lives, it’s quite an exceptional journey.
Anekawa, Cnr Swan Lane & Railway Street, Mudgeeraba Ph: 07 5645 6462
Open: Tues – Sat 5pm – 9pm
Omakase (let the chef decide on dishes to share) are 8 courses $70pp, and 9 courses $90pp.
NOTE: Venue photos by Owen Thompson used with permission.