Tucked away in Little Lonsdale Street between Elizabeth and Queen Street is a sweet little Japanese restaurant. I visited this week thanks to a tip off from a reader (Hi Gavin!), dragging along Alastair, Hazzie and Ashley for a spot of dinner. Gypsy and Pig is a small restaurant – about 24 seats or so – and unfortunately when we arrived there weren’t four seats available together. Faced with this, I agreed to us being split into two groups – so Alastair and I had an impromptu date, as did Ashley and Hazzie.
As well as being small, the restaurant is modest and understated. There’s a lot of black – the staff are dressed in black, and the walls are painted a matt black, broken up by large timber framed windows. Half of the seating is arranged bar-style in a big square around the open kitchen.
With a name like Gypsy & Pig, it’s no surprise that they specialise in pork dishes – specifically kurobuta, the Japanese name for a breed of pig known as Black Berkshire. Kurobuta is highly prized for its sweet, rich flavour, tenderness and juiciness.
I ordered us a couple of stuffed chicken wing stuffed with dumplings ($4.50 each) to start. While not as swoon worthy as other ones I’ve had, they were pretty good – the deboned chicken wing was filled with a flavoursome pork dumpling mixture.
We also ordered two mains to share.
The first one was the slow cooked Kurobuta belly and egg in sweet soy ($18). The pork had been braised in a sweet soy sauce, and we received several slices of meltingly soft meat alongside a soft boiled egg and greens. Lipsmackingly good.
Our second main was the deep fried crumbed kurobuta loin ($20).
I requested this in a set ($7 extra) which comes with rice, miso, a small dish and pickled vegetables. The miso in particular was great – made with a nicely smokey dashi.
And the pork was fantastic – with a coating that was very light, delicate and crisp. It came with a mound of very thinly sliced cabbage. Dressing and sauce for the pork were both available on the table.
We were enjoying Gypsy & Pig so much we ordered dessert. The dessert menu has five individual items – green tea ice cream, black sesame ice cream, almond jelly, creme caramel and a NY style cheesecake, priced from $3.50 – $8.00. In addition, there is an assorted dessert plate, which at $18 is great value as you get one of each dessert.
Can I get a hell yeah for the dessert plate?
We started with the ice creams – first I tasted the green tea ice cream. Yep, pretty good. I passed it to Alastair and started in on the black sesame ice cream. Holy cow. The black sesame was so good – I seriously contemplated not sharing it and just scoffing the lot.
The almond jelly was slippery and sweet, the fairly subtle almondness relieved a bit by some of the scattered fruit – but be warned that if you don’t like that almond flavour, it won’t be for you.
The creme caramel was also rich and smooth, although we found that the cheesecake was too cold and quite dense. It was definitely overshadowed by the other items.
We had a super delicious dinner – and we’ll definitely be back to try more of the menu. There was no signage that I could see, so make sure you keep an eye out for the pig on the door.
Thanks again to Gavin for the recommendation – good pick!
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Gypsy and Pig
391 Little Lonsdale Street
Phone: 03 9640 0731