Manmaru, Dulwich Hill

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The Graff Caff has been a long-loved venue of us here at Sydney Tum Tum for quite a while. Recently, the family relaunched their little café while Erich, one half of the dynamic duo who runs this amazing eatery, was on holiday. To his surprise, he came back to a Japanese-inspired café with the interior designed by his artistically-gifted daughter, Lara.

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His wife, Takako aka the resident baking powerhouse, ensured that her delicious and beautiful baked goods remained the focus of café while a new menu was designed by their son, Owen.

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Vegan Pie $8

Though they were swamped during the opening event that day, they had one of their award-winning Vegan Pies left. They’ve usually been sold out the last few times we’ve visited so we were eager to try this pie again.

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As with all Takako’s pastries, the pie crust was very crispy at first but soon starts to melt in your mouth. The pie itself was packed with oven-roasted pumpkin and chickpeas. There’s plenty of flavour and heaps of texture. Just as good as we remember it!

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Veal Sausage Roll $5.50

Our friend ordered the Veal Sausage Roll. The first thing I noticed was the freshness of the meat and pastry, complemented by the roasted fennel seeds sprinkled on top. It had a clean and punchy flavour to it. One of the best sausage rolls I’ve ever tasted!

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Tofu Noodle Salad $11

I was keen to try the Tofu Noodle Salad because, reading the menu, it sounded phenomenal. The presentation of this bowl is enough to get the tummy rumbling in anticipation!

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The dish is made up of vermicelli noodles topped with asian greens, soft tofu, crispy fried onions, edamame, renkon chips and a Japanese-style boiled egg (nitamago) and dressed with a sesame-mayo dressing. All of these elements are delicately balanced in this bowl to create a fresh, delicious and satisfying salad.

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Taco Rice (Vegan) $10

My girlfriend opted for the  Vegan Taco Rice. The brown and white rice was topped with vegan “chilli con carne” which was recreated with Japanese marinated soybeans and topped with shredded lettuce, tomato, vegan cheese and special sauce.

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This dish was a perfect fusion of Tex-Mex and Japanese food and a creative take on the traditional donburi. These were new ingredients used in a way that I’ve never seen before. It was a great example of Manmaru’s ability to bring two cuisines from opposite sides of the globe together seamlessly.

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Avocado Toast $14

Our friend’s second choice was the Avocado Toast with Preserved Lemon & Japanese Dukkah. The avocado was fresh and there was plenty of it while preserved lemon provided plenty of zing. The Japanese dukkah rounded off on a what turned out to be a delicious and interesting take on the much-loved avo toast.

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Vegan brownies

In addition, tasters of their edible treats were passed around and we were lucky enough to try their Vegan Brownies topped with edible rose petals. The brownie was rich, soft and sweet… just the way a brownie should be!

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Iced Chai and Matcha Milkshake (Both Soy) $15.50

To go with our meal, I ordered the Soy Iced Chai which was spicy and perfect to wash down the tofu noodle salad. My girlfriend’s Soy Matcha Milkshake was very creamy and just a little sweet. Perfectly balanced and refreshing.

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We thoroughly enjoyed the opening of Manmaru, and the talents of both their children are showcased in both the decor and menu. The revival of The Graff Caff had some big shoes to fill but we feel they’ve done a great job introducing a new theme to the café. We’ll be back soon!

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