As a former head chef of Bill Granger’s Bills Darlinghurst, it’s safe to say that Kentaro (Kenny) Takayama knows a thing or two about the breakfast trade.
With a little bit of encouragement from his wife Megumi, Takayama decided to depart Bills in order to focus on his dream of opening is own venue, the newly opened Caf Oratnek in located in Sydney’s Redfern.
“My wife had been pushing me towards my dream since we got married but I suppose I was just making excuses because I was a little scared after seeing how well Bills operates,” says Takayama. [I needed] the confidence in myself to go it alone.”
Described by Takayama as a gentle twist of Australian and Japanese fare, the breakfast menu at Oratnek features the likes of sauted wild mushroom with miso, butter, goat’s cheese and herbs; kombu cured salmon and turmeric edamame and cauliflower.
On the lunch menu you’ll find salads of daikon, wild mushroom, white onion and roasted sesame dressing; sandwiches of pork fillet katsu, cabbage, Japanese BBQ sauce and mustard; and Japanese slow cooked lamb casserole, root vegetables and a soft boiled egg. Bread by Brickfileds and Mecca Coffee is also avaliable.
“The most popular dish on the lunch menu is unmistakably the 200gm pork fillet katsu sandwich with shredded cabbage, mustard & Tonkatsu sauce,” says Takayama. “This is also the dish with the most Japanese [influence] on the menu. [In Japan] it is readily available from street vendors and in train stations only we have taken it to the next level. We sell over 400 a week.
“Redfern is such a booming suburb. I definitely believe that adding the Japanese twist to our menu has helped us form our own following without taking away from the other great cafes in the area.”
When it comes to the name of the venue, Takayama says that it’s simply his first name in reverse.
“If you flip Oratnek backwards you get Kentaro, and the childishness of it is where it all stems from. Since the age of 14 I’ve wanted to open my own cafe. 23 years later it has finally happened.”