You might not have stumbled upon Redfern’s teatime hotspot, JUAN, but only four months in, it’s already created a buzz. Beautiful and quaint in décor, there’s something very sweet about this tiny 28-seat eatery - and we definitely recommend booking ahead.
So what fills the space? Don – bowls of rice, topped with meat or veg, sauces, crunchy sidekicks and Japanese condiments. It’s here you’ll find all the comforts of Japanese food, but JUAN’s biggest drawcard is its match-your-tea-to-bowl-approach.
With a passion for home cooking, entertaining and Japanese flavours, Anna Ishiguro came to Australia nine years ago as a freelance graphic designer and turned her love of Japanese food into a rice-y adventure. “For a very long time I wanted to start my own place; a very small place, with a very simple menu,” she tells SBS. “I grew up in a house where fresh sashimi, sushi and Japanese home cooking was the normal and I love to cook for people, so this was the right fit and timing for me.”
Before you relegate this place to don-only territory, there is also a wicked matcha tiramisu that uses sakura, or cherry blossom leaf powder. “In Japan, sakura is very popular and it is not very common here in Australia. Because matcha is a very strong flavour, the cherry blossom powder is such a beautiful touch, and I like to see people’s responses to trying it for the first time,” Ishiguro says.
JUAN just received their liquor license recently, so you can expect a list of imported Japanese beers, wine, shochu and sake to flood the menu, as well as natural and local wines. Ishiguro has grand plans to expand her bowl menu to include Japanese-style tapas snacks to have with their brand-new drinks menu, so definitely keep an eye out for those, too.
JUAN Bowl & Tea is open on Tue - Sat 6pm - 10pm and for lunch on weekends from 12pm - 3pm
Starting February 13 for one month, JUAN will be hosting a pop-up dessert bar featuring guest chef Koichi Katsumata. Former de patisserie from the Michelin-starred restaurant, Sola in Paris, Vue de Monde and Bennelong, Katsumata will be creating a special daily desserts menu to complement JUAN’s tea. Walk-ins are welcome!
Tues - Thurs 12pm – 3pm
Keep up-to-date through their Facebook and Instagram social channels: @JUAN.redfern