Tokyo Canteen is a modern, light-filled restaurant offering a welcome a breath of fresh air on the Canberra food scene. Located in the new mixed use precinct on Eyre Street in Kingston, it brands itself as a Japanese brunch cafe serving Japanese inspired breakfast and lunch all day long. There's an open kitchen at the back of the small space and the front is minimalistic but oh-so Japanese with light wood furnishings, fluffy white lanterns overhead and sweet little vases of flowers adding a soft touch to the tables.
The restaurant's menu delivers a creative spin on home-style Japanese cooking to hungry Canberrans craving a unique dining experience. Bursting with innovating dishes and a few takes on familiar classics too, the menu has plenty to offer without being overwhelming. It's based on the teishoku or 'set menu' style of dining which apparently originated in the traditional meals offered at zen temples and became widely popular in Japan. It has evolved into a 'set menu' where all of the dishes are served together as one course.
At Tokyo Canteen, they've embraced the teishoku trend and you can expect many of the menu items to include soup, pickles and rice alongside the main dish. You're guaranteed to find some familiarity on the menu (agedashi tofu, nasu dengaku, poke bowls) but also some unusual surprises (ginza honey toast and udon carbonara, I'm looking at you!). I had multiple cases of food envy as other tables received their food but then mine arrived and it was like hitting the jackpot. The agedashi tofu was like it was coated in a crunchy cloud and the sides were sensational. The panko chicken sando was a reminder of some of the westernised Japanese magic you find when visiting Japan with sweet, light bread hugging salty, crunchy chicken - a true match made in heaven.
Visiting Tokyo Canteen is the perfect antidote to any pandemic-era blues because while you're there, for just a moment, you could be tucked away in a trendy corner of Tokyo. Highly recommended for both the flavour and complete difference from anything else on offer in Canberra.