ima Asa Yoru, Brunswick

MELBOURNE | ima Asa Yoru is the Brunswick reincarnation of Carlton’s popular Japanese cafe, ima Project, which opened in the second half of last year. It’s the realisation of what owners and couple Asako Miura and James Spinks wanted to do evolve ima Project into, but couldn’t quite do given the space constraints of the original location. Asako runs front of house, while James leads the kitchen.

Housed in the sustainable, environmentally-conscious Nightingale Village development, ima Asa Yoru is a cafe by day (‘asa’) and izayaka by night (‘yoru’). It’s a light, open space, with high ceilings, natural materials, warm lighting, and splashes of blue. A long bar looks over the open kitchen, which features new toys like a custom-built Brick Chef charcoal grill.

In sync with the sustainability credentials of the building, ima Asa Yoru operates using a low-waste, high recycling model. Scraps are given a second life in some of the dishes, or composted, while rescued ‘ugly’ produce is given a chance to shine.

During the day, it’s an all-day breakfast and lunch menu featuring things like chirashi (seasoned rice with kingfish), tamagoyaki (rolled beaten-egg omlette) with rice puffs, and ima’s signature teishoku sets of rice, miso soup, pickles, and fish or eggplant. There’s single origin coffee and tea, alternative lattes, and house-made juices.

For dinner, it’s an izakaya-style menu of hot and cold dishes that blends contemporary Melbourne dining with Japanese flavours and technique. Beef tataki is topped with a roasted tomato and yakiniku sauce, and leeks and garlic chips. Kingfish and scallop sashimi is served simply with wakame and a yuzu vinaigrette, while crispy fried prawn heads are designed to be eaten whole, served with kimchi mayo.

The rich fattiness of tender grilled ox tongue is offset by delicate leek and shio tare with notes of yuzu. Mixed mushrooms, meanwhile, shine with soy, shallot oil, and lemon zest.

To drink, it’s an interesting selection of wine, sake, and beer, plus house cocktails that put a Japanese spin on the classics. The hojicha old fashioned is a must try. There’s also a decent selection of non-alcoholic options if you’re looking to skip the booze.

A few doors up you’ll find ima Pantry. Visit during the day for a selection of grocery essentials, local artisanal products, unique Japanese pantry items, and takeaway options like toasties, onigiri, and Japanese pastries.

ima Asa Yoru

1 Duckett Street
Victoria 3056

Telephone: (03) 9989 2309
E-mail: [email protected]

Tue: 11:00am to 3:00pm
Wed – Fri: 11:00am to 3:00pm; 5:30pm to 9:00pm
Sat: 10:00am to 3:00pm; 5:30pm to 9:00pm
Sun: 8:30am to 3:00pm



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