If someone asked me to join them at a child friendly restaurant I’d most probably nervously giggle and politely decline. Yes, I’m one of those people. The words child friendly, to me, give the impression of happy meals, prams that don’t need to be the mammoth size they are and little tackers tearing around other peoples tables as they scream, trip and fall and scream a little more.
Catching up with some close friends that so happen to have a little tacker of their own is an almost monthly occurrence. It was their suggestion we try child friendly Kokoroya in Maroubra, a Japanese restaurant that welcomes parents and toddlers with open arms. They’d been there previously and aside from saying only positive things about the food, they also loved the fact little Benny could have his own play area under their watchful eye. When the food came out, he was up in his highchair quietly popping edamame out of pods as well as tucking into agedashi tofu ($9.8) like the adults around him. Now that’s one civilised 16-month old!
One thing I love about Kokoroya is the how the menu is on iPads. Tap the dishes you want, tap send and within minutes you have it made fresh and delivered. Need more food and drinks? Tap away. This may eliminate an element of service but, done electronically, it seems to run very efficiently. No mix-ups as it’s you that’s placing the orders directly to the kitchen.
Agedashi comes in two forms here. The regular tofu variety, massively portioned and a lightly crumbed squid ($8.8). Both are great but I’m leaning towards the squid a little more.
The tempura ($24.8) may not be the finest and crunchiest I’ve encountered but it’s the gyoza ($7.8) that reminded me how good these little dumplings can actually be. More often than not I order a gyoza and am presented with fresh-from-the-freezer dumplings that are dry and cardboard-like. Here they’re juicy, meaty and flavoursome with well-steamed pastry skins. The takoyaki ($6.5) are decent and creamy and the duck breast ($11.5) is nicely seared and cooked medium rare.
Japanese food doesn’t tend to fill me up so I grabbed the iPad and ordered a couple more dishes. Some gorgeous little aburi salmon nigiri ($6.2) and some freaking beautiful dynamite mussels ($12.8). Topped with spicy mayonnaise and fish roe, they’re caramelised and golden and pack a mild chilli hit. The only downside was the meat was firmly attached to the adductor muscle, making for some messy extracting.
This is one child friendly restaurant I can safely say I look forward to returning to!