Juan | Redfern | Sydney | Australia

Let tell you a story about a woman who entered and got lost a mysterious forest...

 Credit: Ramen Raff

Credit: Ramen Raff

... and found herself with rice.


Life is like a forest, keep to the track and you may come out relatively unscathed, but head down the beaten path and you'd have had an adventure of a lifetime.

On my journey through the beaten forest, I happened to stumble across the path of Kerby Craig (master of Japanese cuisine) who invited me to eat at Anna Juan's new restaurant Juan.


Not so Asian.

Even though I was born with Asian heritage, my eating habits significantly lack aspects of traditional Asian culture. I enjoy eating Asian food, but I don't really drink much tea, eat a lot ramen, and I especially don't enjoy eating rice. So when I learnt this was a Rice Bowl and Tea house, I admit I got a bit nervous!

Looking at the menu, I quickly realised what sets apart Juan from other Japanese restaurants: it is that everything is simple; there are only five dishes including Tonkotsu and hitsumabushi, and each dish is best paired with a respective tea, expertly crafted by Juan's own tea master. With such a small menu, I knew I'd be a fool to pass up an opportunity like this one. If all they do is rice bowls, it must be really very good, right?


But first, tea.

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Although there was Artificer coffee brewing, I thought it would be more fitting to order the tea with my Wagyu Rice Bowl, which is Jin ju mei, a black lapsang souchong variant from Fujian in China. It’s a smoked tea, which is harvested early and fully oxidised, with a prolonged sweet but tannic aftertaste that isn’t unlike an oolong.

The tea was absolutely perfect. Brewed just right with little to no tannin aftertaste, it was a pleasure to sip slowly at it while waiting for my meal.

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Today, Kerby Craig ordered the Tonkatsu

The master himself had been studying the menu beforehand, and had made his mind up within a second of exploring the menu. A meat-based donburi, the tonkatsu was a perfect marriage of delicate batter and juicy morerish pork belly. The scrambled eggs were savoury and lush, and balanced with the ripe fresh vegetables it made the perfect meal.

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And then there was the Wagyu Rice Bowl

This one is I believe the signature don of Juan. Slow-cooked wagyu atop a bed of umami seasoned garlic rice, topped with an oozey soft poached onsen egg, a crispy renkon chip, and served with an incredible sweet onion sauce. My head, heart and stomach was in a constant battle whether to devour or to savour it - it was that good!

So in saying this, does that mean I am now a fan of rice? 

Well, let's just say I won't be crossing that off the menu any longer.


Times I've Been: First Visit!
Favourite Beverage(s): Jin ju mei
Favourite Dish(es): Wagyu Rice Bowl
Great if you: love Japanese food, Wagyu, Tea
Not great if you: can't eat grains!

Thank you for reading! Share with your friends, family, and other foodies!  Please give feedback so I may always be improving my writing, photography, and finding new ways to stuff my face. Now go out and try more food and report back with your next favourite!