Current Issue #477

Suburban Secrets:
Black Dog Gallery

Black Dog Gallery, Tusmore
Sia Duff
Black Dog Gallery, Tusmore

Up towards the leafier end of Greenhill Road, firefighter-turned-chef Jun Abe is continually adapting his casual but flavourful take on everyday Japanese cuisine.

“I’m Japanese but I’ve been here since 2006, so 13 years now,” Jun Abe tells The Adelaide Review. Before moving to Australia Abe worked as a fireman in Yokohama for eight years; it was only after arriving in Adelaide that he started cooking with fire instead of fighting it.

“Before I came to Australia I never cooked – I just cooked for myself,” he says. “After I came here I started studying at TAFE and got qualified. So I didn’t have genuine Japanese cooking skills. Of course I have the basics because I’m Japanese, but never in a commercial restaurant.

“After I got qualified I started cooking at various places, local restaurants. But I always had a dream of owning my own restaurant, and finally in 2015 we found this place in the eastern suburbs.”

Black Dog Gallery owner/chef Jun Abe
Sia Duff
Black Dog Gallery owner/chef Jun Abe

Named for his family’s dog Kuro, Abe is joined at his dream restaurant by his wife Maki and a small team in a simple but charming space sandwiched between a pizza joint and hairdresser. Abe’s years as a sous chef and head chef in suburban restaurants and pubs around Adelaide gave him a solid handle on the tastes of Australian diners, which has informed his flexible approach to contemporary Japanese dining that avoids being too rigid or traditional.

“Once I decided to open a restaurant with Japanese-influenced food, I wanted to mix my basic Japanese ‘home food’ with my experience in Australian kitchens,” he says, pointing to the day’s special: his own take on the Italian fish dish Acqua Pazza. “But I’m adding the Japanese flavour,” he says.

Black Dog Gallery, Tusmore
Sia Duff
Black Dog Gallery, Tusmore
Sia Duff

“One of the reasons I do that is that I want to introduce people to genuine Japanese food. Most people hear ‘Japanese food’ and think of sushi, teriyaki, but actually we Japanese don’t eat sushi every day,” he says. “We don’t eat Japanese Japanese food every day, sometimes we have pasta, steak or something like that. I wanted to introduce that true Japanese eating culture.”

The more avant-garde end of Abe’s experiments have included a ramen-base pizza, and his own unlikely twist on Adelaide’s late night hunger killer, the AB. “The regular AB is Yiros meat on chips with garlic sauce. Ours has garlic fried rice on the bottom, then pulled Char-Siu pork braised with Tonkatsu sauce and garlic and chilli aioli. So it’s the AB, but our style. We always try to adapt.”

Black Dog Gallery, Tusmore
Sia Duff

These unexpected moments of culinary fusion might keep Abe’s Instagram followers intrigued, but it’s the consistently structured, seasonally updated menu that keeps the small restaurant full day and night. A choose-your-own adventure ramen menu ensures local noodle-lovers are slurping with satisfaction, the miso soup is always abundant, and Abe’s selection of plant-based plates inspired by shōjin ryōri traditions leave even the smuggest eastern suburbs vegan humbled – this writer included.

In the four years since opening, Abe has noticed an uptick of diners that seem to ‘get it’, perhaps correlating with a rise in cheap airfares making Japan an increasingly popular and accessible holiday destination. “There’s been a massive boom of customers who have been to Japan or are going to Japan, and come in here to experience real Japanese food.”

Whether you’ve travelled to Abe’s home country, or rarely venture further east than the Burnside Land Rover belt, this is one black dog you will not want to shake.

Black Dog Gallery
4/455 Greenhill Road, Tusmore
08 8333 3530

Related Article

Suburban Secrets: Minestra

Related Article

How a Japanese landscape designer rescued Adelaide’s garden of tranquility

Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

See Profile

Walter is a writer and editor living and working on Kaurna Country, and The Adelaide Review’s Digital Content Producer.

Next

Get the latest from The Adelaide Review in your inbox

Get the latest from The Adelaide Review in your inbox