75 Regents Park Road, Joondalup
Ph: (08) 6209 9169
Joondalup’s best kept secret
Tucked away on Regents Park Road in Joondalup is a tiny restaurant serving exquisite food. D’s Authentic Japanese Restaurant only seats a maximum of 16 people at a time, so every meal is an intimate and special occasion. Chef Koji Harada refurbished and decorated the restaurant by hand, and now spends his evenings crafting dishes and sharing his love of food with his customers. Koji grew up in Osaka and visits Japan regularly, still feeling a strong connection with his home country. His cooking style is that of Western Japan, and he’s passionate about treating every ingredient with respect, bringing out the best in each ingredient on the plate.
The dinner menu has been designed around the idea of a traditional, slow meal. Multiple courses served in the correct order take the guests on a journey of complex flavours and aesthetically beautiful food, showcasing the chef’s technical and artistic abilities. Koji will often bring the food to the table himself, to share some of the inspiration behind the dishes, how certain ingredients are sourced and why they were included in the dish.
I was delighted to be assigned this review because D’s is one of my favourite places to spend an evening. It has been a great date restaurant and a good place for catch-ups with old friends. When we visited for Menu Magazine, our first dish was a great example of Koji’s artistry: a sashimi platter presented in a stunning display with edible seaweed and an entire Medetai (Pink Snapper) head and tail. The attention to detail, and quality of ingredients were apparent, and when I asked Koji how he buys his fish, he explained: “I always buy whole fish so that I have a clean slate to work with, and I am absolutely sure the quality is of a high standard”. After we finished the edible portion of the dish, we asked Koji if he could cook us something with the remaining elaborate garnishes as we didn’t want any of the food to go to waste. He happily accepted the challenge, demonstrating his versatility by masterfully whipping up an additional tasty course using only what was left on the plate.
The next dish was my personal favourite of Koji’s, the Eggplant Miso Dengaku. This is an absolute must whenever I go to D’s. It is juicy, rich and soft, without being slimy or bitter as eggplant can sometimes be. The rich favour of this dish and Koji’s careful preparation has totally changed my perspective on the humble eggplant.
The final dish to mention in this review has to be the Scampi in the Ocean – Koji’s signature dish, and it is as much a work of art as it is a meal. The scampi prawn is served sitting atop a fried rice ball in a bowl surrounded by an assortment of spices. A traditional seaweed soup/broth (representing the ocean) is poured around the scampi and the spices infuse with the broth, flavouring the dish perfectly to create the taste known as umami. The flavours and design of this dish always leaves a lasting memorable impression with everyone who samples it.
Like all my visits to D’s, this one left me feeling that I had learnt something and experienced food in an exciting new way. Koji loves to talk about how he develops each flavour and dish, even selling a selection of sauces that he has created at the restaurant for guests to take a bit of his inspiration home with them.
Bookings are highly recommended for all dinners, and essential for larger groups. It is worth remembering that people don’t go to D’s for a rushed meal. It is a fine dining experience, suitable for business, romantic or casual occasions. The venue is currently BYO, so I recommend bringing a good bottle of wine or sake when you visit, and who knows, I might see you there.
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