Kappaya Soul Food Cafe

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

Abbotsford Convent

1 Helliers Street, Abbotsford

Ph: 9416 0070

abbotsfordconvent.com.au

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Pidapipó

Since January Kate has been insisting that I needed to get along to Pidapipó, a new gelateria in Carlton. She had quickly become obsessed with it and was encouraging everyone in our office to go down when we next hit up Cinema Nova, which for us all is multiple times a week, so really none of us had any excuse.

What I soon discovered upon entering the threshold and sampling Pidapipó’s wares was that there is no way that you can stop at just one visit. Because, and I am very confident in stating this, Pidapipó is serving up the best gelato in town. Yes, even better than Gelato Messina. COME AT ME.

Take the first combination that I sampled: salted caramel topped with Nutella swirl. Let’s not even get into the fact that the salted caramel balances sweet and salty on a perfect knife edge and that I may have subsequently sampled it at least three more times. Let’s focus on when I ordered the Nutella swirl, which as the name suggests has Nutella threaded through vanilla gelato, I was asked by the counter girl “Would you like some Nutella drizzled on top?”

Would I like Nutella drizzled on top, ahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa OF COURSE I WOULD.

On my second visit I thought it would only be sensible in terms of further research to get a double fruit sorbet cone, but I ruined the experiment by only getting one fruit flavour due to the fact peanut butter was available and we all know I wasn’t going to say no to that. I topped the peanut butter with peach, which was bright pastel orange and liberally flecked with small pieces of fruit. Like all of Pidapipó’s flavours it was robust, just a huge burst of stone fruit goodness. But the peanut butter… ahahahahahAAAAAAAAA THE PEANUT BUTTER. Seriously I just wanted to cackle malevolently like a super villain who finally has their hands on all the plutonium.

It would take me forever to write about the rest of the flavours I’ve sampled in the proper manner I’ve established, so let’s bullet point this shit:

  • Ricotta and fig – creamy gelato with thick, luscious threads of caramelised fig. This is my three-way tie for favourite with salted caramel and peanut butter.
  • Banana – thick and flavoured like they’ve straight up frozen mashed banana with the barest of embellishments just to make sure it’s creamy as all fuck.
  • Pistachio – One of my all time favourite ice cream flavours, Pidapipó’s pistachio is a highly impressive iteration, ratcheting up the nuttiness until it threatened to become an overpowering flavour explosion. Sample at your delicious discretion.
  • Pineapple – one of the sorbetti flavours, like most of the fruit ones are, and while not as creamy as the milk based gelatos, they still pack an impressive flavour wallop. Pineapple is all sharp-sweet tropics in a cup.
  • Blood plum – Another sorbetti, and so clean, sweet and tart all at once, this one’s a great palate cleanser after a meal.
  • Banana and choc fudge – This is the only flavour that hasn’t managed to completely wow me, but that doesn’t mean that it was bad, indeed, how can any gelato threaded with thick seems of gooey chocolate fudge ever be anything but enjoyable?
  • Hazelnut – Another nutty flavour explosion, these are Italians, of course they are not going to do hazelnut by halves, it’s going to explode your face off is what it’s going to do.
  • Coconut – Such a divisive flavour, but if you don’t like coconut son I feel sorry for you, because you are MISSING OUT ON DIVINE REVELATION.

The gelato at Pidapipó is impressive enough, but I’m also so pleased with how spotlessly clean the store always is, how friendly the staff (all Italian) are, how you can always see the baskets of fresh fruit and giant jars of Nutella waiting to be turned into chilled delight, and how the phrase “so we have to go get The Ice Cream” has become so ubiquitous among my friends and I. Because it is the only ice cream now, for all of us, everyone I have introduced to Pidapipó have immediately caught evangelical zeal for it. Come join us. JOIN US.

Pidapipó

222 Faraday Street, Carlton

pidapipo.com.au