Ume Nomiya, Gertrude Street’s Japanese drinking house

Miss K, renascent party girl, took me on a bar crawl of Gertrude St on Friday. We checked out Little Rebel (don’t share my barber man’s enthusiasm), Radio, and Gertrude’s (more anon). It involved dinner at Ume Nomiya (ume: Japanese plum, usually pickled — pictured, thanks to Matt Helminski; nomiya: drinking house) the tiny 37-seat Japanese place next to our regular haunt, Tandoori Times. Indolent Andy said it was his favourite Japanese restaurant, and that was enough to pull me out of some inertia and get in there. Mind you I think lingering first impressions when the place was but a bar and was not all that busy were preying on my inertia. Then, it was a bit too cool for school, weird even, though that was back in 2001. We loved every minute of our relatively quick dinner and warm sake slurp there. Continue reading “Ume Nomiya, Gertrude Street’s Japanese drinking house”

The Richmond Market

Miss K and I went shopping at the Richmond Market in Gleadall St (home too of the Richmond Leisure Centre). When I was young, and was convinced by some subterfuge that pulling a market trolley for my father was an excitement to be looked forward to, there was a time when he gave up going to the Queen Victoria Market in favour of the closer Gleadall St Market. I was not impressed. Now I like it a lot. It is a plainer affair than the Queen Vic, but has everything one might need, including the pictured cafe: vegetables at real prices (spinach $1.90 instead of $3.80 at the supermarket, potatoes priced in cents not dollars per kilo), coffee, pastries, bread, fish, flowers, dried things, fruit. It’s open from 7 a.m. until 12.30 p.m. on Saturdays. Enquiries 9205 5555.

Park Hotel’s Third Birthday: 1 April 2006

Now I do like a bit of Chinoiserie moderne, and it’s a la mode right now in newly degrunged pubs and quirky Japanese cafes alike. The Park Hotel is a truly excellent pub in Abbotsford, which manages to be grungy and degrunged at once, down Nicholson St a bit from the Retreat Hotel on the other side at no. 191 (9419 4352). It has copies of Truth lying around (and I thought defamation writs had shut it down, but it seemed to have morphed even more into a racing tabloid), itself more kitsch interior decor than true fodder for the regs probably but then I’m not sure about that, and a good beer garden, with a pool table. Its kitchen serves up tasty tucker and its prices are reasonable. One time, its taps had broken down and they were selling stubbies for the price of pots. That was a good day. Its present incarnation’s having its third birthday on April Fool’s Day, and, unless they’re joshing, there’s going to be fillums ‘n all. [I can’t find any evidence on the internet of The Truth being extant, but that doesn’t mean anything. I did find this interview of a former editor though, in which the rag is described as something read by folk who won their money on the racing pages and spent it on the brothel pages, and in which it is recounted that a Mr Justice Innes described it in the 1890s as “a wretched little paper reeking of filth”. I also learnt that it broke some serious stories, including what happened at Maralinga with the A bomb blasts. Those were the days, when it would sell 400,000 copies a day.]

Wabi Sabi Salon, a Smith St Japanese restaurant

I had dinner at Wabi Sabi, a cute little cafe restaurant near the corner of Smith and Gertrude Sts, and therefore in the immediate vicinity of many good things including Dr Follicles, Books for Cooks, Yelza, Dr Java, Enoteca, and Ladro. I had admired it many times, walking by, but never been in, except once, for takeaway. It is a lovely busy tiny little place crammed together in what I expect is a most authentic Tokyoey way. Sophia Davis (pictured) and Tomoya Kawasaki seem to be the proprieters. Sophia’s front of house not-very-Japanesishness is one of the things that first lets you know this is not your average Japanese restaurant. The whole place has a kind of Friends of the Earth meets the Napier Hotel meets whatever the equivalent of Chinoiserie is meets Toyko zen; lots of things are put together creatively and exquisitely, slightly tongue in cheek kitsch cheek by chic jowl. It gets the inaugural “Good as Hell” award, henceforth a searchable category. See flickr for more photos, especially of the charming interior decor of the outside dunny. Continue reading “Wabi Sabi Salon, a Smith St Japanese restaurant”