85 Swan Street
Richmond VIC 3121
+61 3 9428 8672
I spent quite some time interning at a national sporting organisation not too long ago. And for the most part, I was happy. Not just because of the fantastic people I got to meet and not just because of the invaluable skills I learnt and networks I developed but because the organisation was only a 5 minute tram ride from Swan Street, a pandora’s box of culinary gems waiting to be discovered.
Five years ago, Swan Street was not considered the culinary heartland of Richmond (why, when you have places like Victoria Street and Bridge Roads with all their vibrant food offerings?). However, things have changed for the better and Swan Street is full of places worth checking out if you ‘forget’ to bring your lunch.
A place that I visited quite a bit (and have returned to even after I finished my internship) is Happy Kappa. This grungy Japanese café is only open on weekdays but its kooky interior, friendly service and cheap lunches make it the ideal spot for office workers to grab a bite to eat.
In addition to the Japanese curries, my go-to dish at Happy Kappa is the chicken katsu don. At only $8.80 for a generously-sized portion, the dish represents excellent value and is delicious. The crumbed chicken piece is deep fried before being chucked in a bowl with rice, egg, and cooked onions. Highly recommended.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the ramen. In hindsight, ordering ramen was a silly thing to do at Happy Kappa given that it’s obviously not something they specialised in. However, I’m a sucker for ramen so I knew I had to try the miso ramen out, one of two ramen choices they had on offer (the other being miso ramen WITH fried chicken).
So the chicken broth tasted like it was heavily laced with MSG, yet it was one-dimensional and bland at the same time. There was no egg or meat in it, only corn kernels, a shitload of carrots (what), spring onion, seaweed and sesame for flavouring. Yeah no, sorry.
If you skip the ramen, you can’t go wrong with lunch at Happy Kappa. Obvs, go for their rice dishes as I can vouch for them (sorry, didn’t take a photo of the curries I had but if you like Don Don’s curries, you’ll like these). If you do go and if you try their udon dishes, please let me know what you think.