I WAS fortunate enough to have lunch with a Herald legend this week – Jenny D’Anger.
Jenny was the longest serving member of the Chook editorial team when she retired last year.
In her 20-plus years at the newspaper she covered everything from Roe 8 to the lasagne bake-off, and is one of the few journos I know who is actually liked by the pollies she skewered.
Unfortunately the covid-19 chaos overshadowed her retirement, so I was taking her for lunch at Rei Lane Eatery to say “Thanks for all your work at the Chook, Jen.”
Situated on the busy retail strip on Wray Avenue, the stylish cafe has a small dining area inside and a lively alfresco where you will never get bored, courtesy of the constant stream of people and vehicles whizzing by.
The small Asian-inspired menu was original and didn’t just lean on cliches with dishes like Seaweed Taco, Duck Bowl and Spicy Tofu, as well as some Ramens and Bento Boxes.
The variety of non-meat options pleased Jenny, a vegetarian, who went for the crunchy katsu cauliflower ($7) and the local oyster mushroom tempura with pea and wasabi cream ($12).
“The crunchy cauliflower lived up to its name with the soft florets of cauliflower coated in deliciously crusty panko breadcrumbs,” she said.
“A generous katsura chipotle mayo really set the dish off, with a mouth-sizzling sharp and smoked flavour.”
Her mushroom dish came with fresh daikon (winter Japanese radish) and a side of soy sauce.
“The oyster mushroom tempura was so light and delicate it almost floated off the plate, luckily it was anchored down by a smooth pea and wasabi cream,” Jenny said.
After a brief discussion about whether Brad Pettitt would drive a compost-powered BMW to parliament, my King Fish Tartare Bowl ($21) arrived.
This dish screamed freshness with the dainty chunks of orange and spring onions brimming with vitality and colour.
It was a pretty little thing, but I was famished and got tore into the diced King Fish tartare, which was super fresh with that trademark sweet refrain.
The yuzu kosho dressing was light and fragrant, not overpowering the fish, while the sesame seeds and spring onions added a nice zing.
The wakame (seaweed) and cucumber provided a refreshing dimension to this dish, which was very filling (the portions at some cafes wouldn’t fill a flea on a diet).
This was a delicious, high quality offering.
Jenny washed down her meal with a Yuzu Lemonade ($4.5) which she described as “refreshing and organic” while I ordered a house-made Kombucha ($6).
It was the first time I’ve ever tried a Kombucha – next I’ll be eating goji berries and wearing mustard jeans – so it was hard to rate, but I enjoyed the tart flavour and would order one again.
The cafe also did a small range of sweets and hot drinks, plus you could order from your table using a QR code (who needs human interaction?)
There’s a poignant story on the cafe’s website about how the owner Rei fled into a lakeside cave after his hometown Hiroshima was decimated by a nuclear bomb in 1945, killing his parents. Aged 7, Rei apparently lived in the cave for 10 years and was completely self-sufficient, only venturing out to fish and hunt.
He left the cave aged 17 and travelled the world, eventually settling in Fremantle.
On this occasion the food lived up to the extraordinary backstory and I’ll be back to try more of Rei’s delicious meals.
Rei Lane Eatery
5 Wray Avenue
0413 356 423
by STEPHEN POLLOCK