Last week, I headed out to Dickson to try the newly opened Bon Kura. Bon Kura has replaced Grill and Sizzle, which opened last year as a Japanese and Italian fusion restaurant. Grill and Sizzle never did particularly well and in hindsight I’m not sure why I didn’t visit it more often. I absolutely love Japanese food and I’ve complained over and over again how I think Canberra is somewhat lacking in this area, especially when it comes to udon and ramen. It’s probably annoying by now, but you know, it’s just something that I need to get off my chest. Constantly. Actually, maybe thats why I didn’t visit Grill and Sizzle much, they didn’t offer ramen or udon.
Luckily for me, Bon Kura does indeed serve ramen and udon. However, unfortunately for us, on the day we were at Bon Kura, they weren’t quite ready yet hence the tonkatsu broth wasn’t available yet, they did have a shoyu broth available, but for me and ramen, it’s tonkatsu or nothing. I love thick meaty broths, so I guess this means I’ll be visiting again shortly to try it out. According to the staff at Bon Kura, the ramen noodles are handmade, so definitely exciting news!
Outside of ramen and udon, Bon Kura has a very extensive menu which covers all parts of Japanese cuisine from skewers, sushi rolls and salads to various dons, street eats and shabu shabu. We didn’t quite have the stomach to try everything but we did manage to try the following dishes from Bon Kura.
First up, the Peppered wagyu beef skewers ($8.80). Bon Kura had quite a few skewers on offer, ranging from meat to seafood to vegetables, including goodies such as pork belly, scallops, corn etc. I definitely had trouble picking between pork belly and this peppered wagyu beef but after some internal battling, this won out, and of course, it was purely due to a “chef’s recommendation” tag on it in the menu.
This was a really lucky choice because while it may not be pork belly, it was still extremely fatty and delicious. Outside of the fattiness, the beef was of a fantastically high quality and cooked in a sweet and sticky sauce which went well with the salty soy dipping sauce. I really liked that the beef was cut up in to relatively small chunks. This made the whole skewer quite manageable and easy to eat. Nothing worse then taking one bit of meat and pulling another massive chunk along with it. The meat was cooked well through, but was thin enough where you didn’t get any horrible texture from overcooked beef.
Onwards to something healthy, only I didn’t eat any of the salad. Salmon sashimi salad ($15.80). This salad was interesting, it felt a lot like a straight out salmon sashimi than a salad. By that, I guess I mean, it was quite dry and lacked any sort of flavoursome sauce that you tend to get in a Japanese salad. I think according to the description, there was an apple sauce and you can see it on the plate but the flavour didn’t quite come through and there wasn’t really enough to give the salad its much needed moisture. Hence, I didn’t touch the salad. That sounds really fatty fat of me, but well salad kind of needs a bit of something before I really want to eat it.
While the salad part wasn’t great, the raw salmon, tomatoes and avocado were actually quite tasty. Let’s just say, if this was a salmon sashimi, I would have been pretty darn satisfied. The salmon was really fresh and tasty, there was a good amount of it too. It may look quite small from the image but the majority of the salmon was actually covered by the salad. I’d say, you get about 50% to 60% more salmon then what you see in the picture. Which was a pleasant surprise. There was also a good amount of really ripe and delicious avocado to go with the salmon. A prefect creamy treat.
Onwards to the sushi at Bon Kura, Chef’s special fried roll ($11.80). I actually had no idea this was deep fried, I think when I was looking at the menu, I must have skipped straight to the descriptor and completely missed the actual name of the dish. Well lets just say, it was a pretty cool surprise when it came out like this. I’ve only had deep fried sushi once or twice in the past and didn’t quite like it, so I guess this was an interesting experiment. I must say, a well done deep fried sushi roll is quite nice.
This was crispy and a little firm on the outside, while the inside was like any other good sushi roll. The sushi roll came with cream cheese, egg, tempura prawn, cucumber with flying fish roe and mayo on top. The interior was great with plenty of different complimenting flavours that played on each other with contrasting textures as well. I loved the addition of cream cheese, which added this creamy and cheesy aftertaste to each bite. The caviar and mayo also added all the extra flavour and moisture this sushi roll needed.
Funny side story to this roll, when I saw the menu I was so excited about the sushi prices. $11.80 for a whole roll, bargain! Even cheap for Sydney. I wasn’t disappointed when the rolls came out, it was more of a ‘oh, that makes sense’ sort of reaction since you just get about half as much as I was expecting. These rolls aren’t as cheap as I thought they would be but I guess they are by no means expensive either compared to other places around Canberra. Plus, I don’t think I mind this whole half a serve concept, means I can try other dishes as well!
Our second sushi, the Grilled wagyu beef roll ($10.80). Another pretty cool roll from Bon Kura. This one wasn’t as cool and interesting as the first one but flavour wise, it was pretty solid. The inside was pretty simple, with some egg and cucumber. Both are fairly bland ingredients which is pretty standard, I guess they must be doing it more for the texture. All the flavour for this roll came through the wagyu beef, crispy garlic chips, shallots and light soy which was drizzled over the roll.
This roll definitely wasn’t what I was expecting, I guess I thought the meat would be inside the rice. Not that there was any problem with having the meat over the top, it definitely did make it more visually appealing. Another benefit of having the meat slathered over the top was that there was way way more meat than anything else. Having had that said, all things visually appealing seem to be more difficult to eat, and this was no different, it was impossible to dip this into soy sauce without it falling apart, so I just ended up scoffing each one down whole. Oh well, at least it was tasty!
The wagyu beef on this roll was pretty good, it was cooked to medium rare, which was fantastic. Nothing worse than chewy overcooked beef. Bon Kura didn’t do much to the wagyu beef, they really did let the quality of the meat do the talking. They did spice it up a little with a really mild and light teriyaki sauce, which added some nice savouriness and a slight edge of sweetness as well. There was also a very generous sprinkling of crispy garlic chips all over the wagyu beef and some shallots as well. These added some lovely scent and a tiny bit of spice to the rolls as well.
Overall a pretty tasty roll, again another half serving but like I said before, proportionally, its still a pretty decent price for a full roll like this, especially considering that its wagyu.
Finally, the Pork tonkatsu don ($16.80). This came with a side of salad, some sweet soy sauce, a fantastically generous glob of Japanese mayonnaise and a bowl of rice as well. This definitely isn’t the best value for money tonkatsu don out there but it was a pretty decent feed and pretty tasty too. The tonkatsu itself was really crispy and crunchy. However, I did find it slightly dry, the meat inside wasn’t overly juicy like you would find at some other places. This was served with a lovely thick soy/teriyaki sauce and when I dipped the tonkatsu into the soy sauce, it actually softened it and added a lot of moisture that made me really enjoy this dish. I know that sounds kind of crazy as soy sauces tend to be super salty. However, here at Bon Kura, it seems like they’ve seasoned the soy sauce and made it much sweeter and slightly more diluted.
Our meal at Bon Kura was quite pleasant. I know I mentioned a couple of more negative points than positive. However, when we finished our meal, we actually found out that they had only been opened for two days. I guess this means its only going to go up hill from here, plus the staff here super friendly and interested in getting our feedback on the meal.
I’m sure over the next couple of weeks, the crew at Bon Kura will iron out the wrinkles. Plus, I have every intention to visit in the near future to sample Bon Kura’s ramen. I’ve yet to find even a semi decent ramen in Canberra to date, udons aren’t too bad but everyone seems to use dry pack ramen noodles which is really obvious and horrible, so I’m looking forwards to Bon Kura’s handmade ramen noodles!