Wray of hope

WRAY Avenue has some great cafes and delis, but the parking has always been a bit of a nightmare.

It put me off going there, to be honest, until I recently discovered you could get a sneaky space up the hill in deepest suburbia.

First-world problems solved, I rendezvoused with ex-Herald journo Jenny “Danger Mouse” at Haiku Freo, an Asian fusion joint on the Wray Avenue cafe strip. 

The place is known for its ramen, but with spring finally sprung I felt like something a bit lighter.

The compact menu had a nice mix of asian-style dishes including ramen, okonomiyaki, edamame salad, bao buns and stir fry.

There was also a display cabinet with freshly made sushi, wraps and rolls.

Hats off to Haiku for having a dedicated vegan menu which contained meat-free versions of the majority of dishes on the “regular” menu. Usually you only get a couple of token dishes with ‘VG’ beside it.

The smiley staff were very friendly and helpful, and we had a good laugh at my attempt to pronounce “okonomiyaki” in my Glaswegian accent (it sounded like I was having a mild stroke).

“Easier to call them pancakes,”  joked the staffer.

Unfortunately my meal got off to a bit of a shaky start with a steamed chicken bao bun ($5).

They were piping hot and there was a decent amount of chook, but they were just lacking in flavour.

The chicken had a spicy kick and the bao was nice and light, but it needed a sauce or some other kind of flavour boost.

Things picked up with the Tsukune (chicken rissoles $15).

Inspired by yakitori, the dainty rissoles were glazed with sake and tamari and had a lovely moreish tang.

The dish really came to life when you added some of the Amazu Pickles, which were delightfully light with a strong vinegary hit, refreshing the palate in-between mouthfuls of chook. A lovely little fusion dish.

Across the table, Danger Mouse was raving about the beautifully presented reverse tofu sushi ($5).

“The huge serve of tofu sushi was one of the best I’ve had thanks to the golden, turmeric infused rice and a crunchy liberal coating of toasted sesame seeds,” she said.

But it was just a warm up to the tongue-twisting okonomiyaki savoury pancakes ($15 vegan version).

“Okonomiyaki was something I’d not tried before, so the vegan version was new territory in my relatively limited Japanese culinary experience,” she said.

“At first I thought they were a tad sweet, but a dash of chilli oil and a splash of tamari toned down the sweetness and added a pleasant salty tang to really elevate the dish.

“Black sesame seeds and toasted shallots added to the flavour of the delicious crispy coating on the pancakes, while underneath a creamy okonomiyaki sauce was layered with more crepes and fresh, crisp beansprouts.”

The funky cafe had some lovely Asian-inspired murals and a nice alfresco where you could watch life unfold on the always-busy Wray Avenue.

Haiku was well priced with friendly staff, and I’ll be back to try their ramen and explore some of the other dishes.

We decided to round off our meal with a slice of cake next door at The Little Concept Cafe.

The person who served me wasn’t the friendliest, but thankfully the huge moist slice of vegan carrot cake ($9) was infinitely sweeter. One of the best I’ve had recently.

Danger Mouse’s monster slice of frangipane blueberry cake ($8.50) was equally as good.

So now I’ve got the parking sussed, Wray Avenue is slowly winning me over.

Haiku Freo
5 Wray Avenue, Fremantle
haikufreo.square.site

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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