A square meal

I  HOPE Kings Square doesn’t lose some of its Twin Peaks mojo when it gets a $220 million facelift.

Looking out at the square from a table in The Modern Eatery, I enjoy the sub-cultures collide in great heaps of dirt and joy.

God forbid they are replaced with civil servants hunched over sandwiches discussing drab sex lives, a bronzed bust of Brad Pettitt, or civic buildings with all the charm of a multiplication table.

I’m sure the Modern Eatery will still be here; this sushi joint is sleek, but has an inviting air that offsets its punctiliousness.

I’ve had a delightful dinner here before, but I wanted to see if the Eatery maintained its high  standards at lunchtime, without busting a hole in my wallet.

The lunch menu included a range of large $15 sushi dishes—chicken and sweet potato tempura, Ebi tempura with shredded crab sticks, and a vegetarian option.

There were also some hot bentos for the winter, including grilled chicken ($15), cheesy tofu ($14) and chicken katsu ($15).

I plumped for the wagyu BBQ bento ($18), and I couldn’t resist dipping into the full menu for the South Australian hiramasa kingfish, with the aburi avocado sauce ($15).

Glancing around, the Eatery was abuzz on Friday lunchtime, the tables crammed with office workers grumbling about their bosses and colleagues—a national pastime.

The service was impeccable and prompt—crucial for lunch— and was the antithesis of some hipster cafes in Freo, where the beautiful waitress is too busy checking Tinder to worry about your vegan, locally-sourced, solar-powered, dolphin-friendly, hemp patty getting cold.

The sashimi was faultless: the fresh kingfish, drizzled in lemon, blended perfectly with the smooth avocado, and the odd daub of wasabi livened things up when my palate was becoming lazy and needed a jolt.

It wasn’t long before the waiter was back, placing in front of me the Hattori Hanzo of bentos.

So often maligned as McDonald’s for westerns, this bento debunked that myth.

Salty slices of smokey beef, perched on bean sprouts and carrots, mingled in a delicious whole in my mouth.

The compulsory seaweed was light and refreshing, and the surprise addition of velvety mash with fish roe and diced carrots, a masterstroke.

I shouldn’t forget the salad: so often limp and soggy, this specimen was crunchy and light, with iceberg lettuce and red capsicum.

My lunch at the Eatery lived up to my dinner experience and is the benchmark for what Freo should be aspiring to; I hope it is still around when the square gets its Burt Reynolds’ facelift.

As I leave, the temperature plummets and the storm clouds convene.

I don’t want to sound like a heritage junkie—yearning for gas lamps and steam-powered vibrators—but I hope the square retains some of its agent Cooper charm.


The Modern Eatery
124 High Street, Fremantle

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