Nadine is completely obsessed with the Abbotsford Convent, and most particularly with all the food venues tucked away among its formally ecclesiastical eaves. She once went to the Convent’s Lentil As Anything outpost four times in the space of a week, true story. So when Maddy and I made some Saturday lunch plans to meet Nadine at the Convent, I assumed that we would inevitably end up at Lentil. But a secret part of me was hoping that we might get a chance to tick off one of my long held must-visit places – Kappaya and it’s Japanese soul food.
It turned out Nadine also had a vested interest in visiting Kappaya, as it’s daytime only opening hours means that it had been closed during many of her previous visits. So it was excitement all round on discovering it was open.
The interior does that cosy, mismatched furniture look really well, so it actually succeeds in being a super comforting space to be in. Cosy-ing up on some squishy plush vintage chairs, we were pretty instantly overwhelmed by the menu, with Maddy and Nadine eventually being drawn to the bento box options.
While the vegie bento did indeed sound good, I had my eye drawn by the all-day breakfast option of a rice and soup combo plate: you get mixed rice crowned with a gooey poached egg, served with miso-dressed mixed salad leaves, and a nice fat cup filled with pumpkin soup. Pumpkin soup for breakfast! REVELATIONS. It was a darn good pumpkin soup too, served in a heavy earthenware cup that felt solid and significant in my hands, with a thick, grainy consistency. It was less creamy than you would ordinarily encounter, but ratcheted up the spice considerably, and I was also given a shaker of flavour salt filled with black sesame seeds and other savoury bits and bobs, never give me shaker of savoury bits, it all just ends up going on EVERYTHING.
But let us also talk about the pure joy that is a softly poached egg broken over rice. Is this the most perfect experience yet devised by human people? IF NOT IT MUST BE CLOSE. I know by this point it must seem like I’m completely obsessed by gooey eggs and just having them pop and dribble over all kinds of carbs, but really, why wouldn’t you be, it is GREAT AND PERFECT. And Kappaya’s rice was already tasty from being flecked through with black sesame seeds, and the egg was just at that poached tipping point where it hovers on that edge between underdone and just right. I popped that dang egg, mixed it all through the rice and ate it like I hadn’t eaten in years. And lo, it was good.
Indeed, everything about Kappaya slotted neatly into the ever so good category. Maddy and Nadine both enjoyed their bentos – I snatched a taste of one of the tofu balls that came with Nadine’s, and it was a tasty wee thing of smoky savoury flavours. Everything just tasted fresh and lovingly hewn together using hearty recipes clearly developed for taste and comfort. Should you find yourself at the Convent during the day, I can think of no better place to look after your tum.
Kappaya Soul Food Cafe
1 Helliers Street, Abbotsford
Ph: 9416 0070