Dee and I were invited to this curious little breakfast and lunch spot last weekend. Nico Cafe welcomed us with a satisfying Saturday lunch on them. The Japanese-themed cafe is fairly new to Adelaide, but is easy to spot with the storefront boarded up with wooden slabs, and a tiny bike and chalk board sitting outside. The small, yet cheery cafe sure added a little colour to the otherwise monotonous Franklin Street.
When we stepped inside, the wooden chairs and tables, potted plants, and various decorations on the wall made me feel like I was sitting in someone’s backyard on a bright, sunny day. It was a warm day as well, meaning the cool, air-conditioned cafe was a relief. Perhaps because of the location, I was also pleasantly surprised it wasn’t crowded despite the fact that it was 1 in the afternoon on a gorgeous Saturday.
The menus are featured in classic children’s picture books, adding to the whimsical charm of the cafe.
Matcha Affogato; $5.90
The drink menu was the first thing we gravitated towards as we were both looking for something cold and refreshing to cool off with. I ordered the iced green tea and Dee ordered the Matcha Affogato. To my disappointment, my green tea came in a can so nothing special there. But we were both head over heels for the Matcha Affogato that looked both pretty and delicious. And according to Dee, it was yum too!
Seaweed chips; $4.50
After perusing the menu, we asked for the cafe’s recommendations. What followed was a generous lunch, including four dishes hot from the kitchen, more than enough for the two of us. First up were the seaweed chips from their list of appetizers. The crispy chips were sprinkled with salty, dried seaweed – an interesting fusion of a typical Aussie snack and a common Japanese ingredient. I couldn’t get my fingers out of the bowl!
Tamago on toast; $5.90
Next came the Ebi Katsu and the Cafe’s signature, Tamago on toast. The Tamago consisted of a slice of thick toast topped with an egg and Japanese mayonnaise mash, finished with tomato sauce on top as garnish. This was easily my favourite. I’m already a big fan of anything with egg, so this was almost certain to be good. Mixed with Japanese mayo, which is slightly sweeter in taste than regular mayonnaise, the egg mash turned out to be light and tasty rather than heavy. The tomato sauce also added the right amount of savouriness to the tamago.
Ebi Katsu; $9.50
The Ebi Katsu was a deep fried breaded prawn meat pattie nestled in a hotdog roll with slices of avocado, some cabbage, and tartar and aurora sauce. The prawn meat pattie itself was fried to a tasty crisp and was well complemented with the sauces. However, the bread roll was a little too dry that Dee and I ended up picking out the avo, prawn, and cabbage. The Ebi Katsu in a hotdog bun is a good idea for a fusion dish, but the dryness of the bread took away from a perfectly good thing.
Chicken Doria; $11.90
Finally came the Chicken Doria served with a side salad. This was a casserole of rice cooked in a tomato sauce base with diced chicken, onions, and a white cheesy sauce baked on top with a poached egg in the middle. I loved the tomato and rice combo but the white sauce was a tad too rich. The cheese was perfectly melted and browned on top, but a thinner layer of the white cream sauce would’ve added just the right amount of creamy goodness to the rice casserole. Honestly though, the star of the dish was the side salad. Dee and I mused over the salad dressing more so than the Chicken Doria. We couldn’t quite figure out what it was but it had a subtle sweet ginger and soy taste that made it a delicious, light salad – lettuce, tomato, and cucumber topped with bonito flakes.
The service was also friendly and personable and made sure we were well fed. After our very fulfilling meal, I’m curious to try more Japanese-Western fusions on their very extensive menu (there are 9 more types of hotdogs) plus a dessert section, including homemade waffles. It’s also a plus that the most expensive item on their menu is $16.90! If our lunch experience was any indication of how the rest of the menu tastes, then – as you Aussies say – I’m “keen” to come back for another weekend visit. Gotta try their Matcha Cappuccino next time!
[dbites was invited as guests to Nico Cafe]
81 Franklin St
Adelaide SA 5000
P 0402 114 918