Monday, June 4, 2012

Purple Peanuts Japanese Cafe

The curiously named Purple Peanuts Japanese Cafe is on the western fringe of the Melbourne CBD, where there's not a single Purple Peanut in sight. What they do have in abundance is of course, good quality (usually) fresh food.

The first thing you notice about this cafe though are the fun decorations dotted around the place, from band posters, to retro artwork, to a nun-chuck wielding octopus. 

Purple Peanuts Japanese Cafe

I told you. The food is very obviously fusion, but simpler than I expected - in a good way. There's a large range of sushi, plus curries, noodle dishes, salads and even soups. As I was feeling chilled from the Melbourne evening, I ordered a Kyoto Bean Minestrone soup.

Kyoto Bean Minestrone
Made with celery, carrot, potato, cabbage, zucchini, cannellini beans, kidney beans and chickpeas with nori and sesame seeds in a miso stock, served with Turkish break or white/brown rice, it was an interesting mix of Italian and Japanese flavours. The broth was very good with a strong but not overpowering miso flavour, but I was disappointed by the lack of beans in the dish. I counted 4. And there was no zucchini to be found. Shame because otherwise it would have made an amazing Autumn soup.

It was surprisingly filling nevertheless, so my second dish probably wasn't required.

Prawn Salad
The prawn salad with buckwheat noodles, tofu, shredded nori, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, Spanish onion and mixed salad, topped with a chilli sesame dressing was for the most part, beautifully executed. The food was fresh, the noodles and prawns were perfectly good, and the dressing accented the flavours without overpowering the dish. My only source of confusion? The fermented tofu sauce on the side. Was I supposed to eat it, or was it just for decoration. It is, in my head at least, a very strong Chinese that didn't belong in this dish, but it was undeniably pretty.

M started with a sushi roll, that actually seemed very dry. Admittedly, we were there late during the day so they were probably left over from lunch, but I wouldn't have expected they would serve food that wasn't fresh when everything else is made so well. He was happy with his main dish, the Chicken Curry.

Chicken Curry
The curry made of carrot, potato, onion, ginger, garlic and pickles was slightly flavourless for my taste buds. Perhaps my preferences are a throwback to the days where my housemate used to make curries packed full of flavour using the S&B Golden Curry sauce mix, M seemed happy enough with the meal and indeed, likes the cafe a great deal more than I do.

I've heard it's beyond busy during lunch as I've been told they serve brilliant sushi (when fresh at least), but the prospect of a long-ish walk and then an even longer wait during a work break isn't appealing to me. If you're down that end of town, by all means check out Purple Peanuts, but this is one case where the hype is justified because the food is good, but not good enough for me to brave the crowds.

Purple Peanuts Japanese Cafe
620 Collins St, Melbourne
Mon-Sat 9am-830pm

Purple Peanuts Japanese Cafe on Urbanspoon


  1. I really like the idea of the Kyoto Minestrone; shame it didn't live up to expectations! But really, is a Japanese meal a Japanese meal without black sesame ice cream? :P

    1. Black sesame ice cream! Oh why oh why didn't they have that on offer. I was tempted by the Green Tea Brownies, but you're right - a Japanese meal isn't a Japanese meal without black sesame ice cream!

  2. Hi

    nice blogs, I always take a peak at your reviews.


    1. Ive been there too..and the fermented tofu is not actually fermenented - its Japanese "Inari" tofu (tofu cooked in dashi) and normally sold with this dish in japan.

    2. Is that zuccinni in then center of your photo of the dish (its got green skin??)

    3. Ive asked them about green tea ice cream too, but they said it was too boring (quote "im sure it would sell, but too stereo typed for us..sort of asking for lychees n ice cream at a chinese cafe"). I could see what they mean.

    Mind you I love their homemade green tea snickers bar and matcha milk shake a few days ago.

    Keep up the good write ups.


    1. Thanks Jessie, your comments and insights are very much appreciated :)

      I had no idea inari even existed (you learn something new every day)! I honestly couldn't taste the zucchini though - the thing in the very centre was nori, and the small wedge just underneath was celery from memory (although I could be wrong).

      Lychees and ice-cream at a Chinese cafe is awesome - although I understand where they're coming from. Maybe I will try the brownie instead to satisfy my sweet tooth.