DELICATE bonito flakes swirled in the rising steam from a plate of takoyaki balls ($6).
As I bit into the soft moist dumplings an explosion of flavours erupted in my mouth.
Smothered in caramelised soy sauce, the octopus-filled dumplings were divine, and a great introduction to V-Bentoya.
The low-key White Gum Valley eatery has the charm of a rural warung – a small family owned Asian eatery – and was previously a lunch bar, no doubt selling pies and chips.
Owner Hyejee Kim realised that the suburb was slowly being gentrified and decided to sell more sophisticated grub.
She hails from Korea, but reckons Aussies haven’t quite come to grips with her country’s cuisine, so opted for Japanese instead.
But she does make a great Korean kimchi, a bit like German sauerkraut, only much more tasty.
Along with the takoyaki entree, my lunch companion and I ordered vegan gyoza ($8) and miso soup ($3).
The small pancakes were packed with kimchi and complimentary flavours, while the miso was salty and delicious.
Crumbed cauliflower with rice ($12.50) and fish katsu ($14) followed.
Both were crisp and perfectly cooked and the mauve/pink wild rice on the side was great, with a nice chewiness.
V-Bentoya only sells cold drinks and green tea ($4), which was a fitting accompaniment to our meal and cleansed the palette for dessert.
We opted to share a hodduk (a Korean pancake $6.50) and a black sesame pudding ($4.80).
The dark burgundy pudding wobbled on the plate as we enjoyed the rich sesame flavours and scooped up the charcoal syrup with pure abandonment.
Then the hodduk arrived in an “Oh my god!” moment.
A cross between a doughnut and a pancake, and served with green tea ice cream, it cut open to reveal a vein of rich chocolate sauce. We were in heaven….
by JENNY D’ANGER
40 Amherst Street,
White Gum Valley
open Wed – Sat 11:00-2:30