How many times can I use the word ‘cute’ in one review? Hello Kitty, everyone’s favourite mute girl-cat, has opened a much-hyped American-style diner in Chatswood, AKA the new kawaii capital of Sydney. And goddamn, it’s cute as heck, and surprisingly tasty.
The diner sits in a corner of Chatswood’s newest food court The District, positioned, somewhat amusingly, next to serious eateries Ippudo and Tim Ho Wan. It’s pretty clear when Hello Kitty-dom starts, as demarcated by the statue of the burger-wielding anthropomorph out front.
The décor is (thankfully) tasteful. Think less frills and lace, and more an interior design collab with Gorman. Hello Kitty peers mischievously from a pink triangle of white squiggles. I’m pretty sure I have that pattern on a blouse somewhere.
The menu is from the brains of Chur Burger, Warren Turnbull, and peddles a fusion of well-priced diner food with Asian elements. I could have gone for the classic burger of a beef patty with the standard burger accessories, but why would I when there’s the Gee Gee on the menu? It’s a solid hunk of crispy Korean fried chicken with cucumber kimchi, coleslaw and a mild chilli sauce in a soft bun... topped with red bow toothpick. I can’t help but exclaim the c-word at this point. The waitstaff must be sick of it.
The Dotti salt-and-pepper tofu burger with eggplant chilli jam get big-ups for using proper Asian tofu, rather than the weird marinated stuff from supermarkets chains. It’s a delightful squishy mess to eat. The poutine with ‘kimcheese’ needs more kimchi and more cheese, please. It needs to be gooey to be good. And where my curds at?
Like everyone else, I recommend the pancake milkshake. It tastes like what you’d expect, and it’s delicious. The yuzu and white chocolate option is the quiet achiever, a clever combo of the sour Japanese citrus with buttery white chocolate goodness.
Floorstaff are reliable and very friendly—how could they not be? They’re wearing Hello Kitty headbands, red bow and all. They chat amiably to two separate young male diners seated at the counter, who have chosen to eat here of their own volition, sans girlfriends, children, or irony. Because if you’re crazy enough to strip this place of its restrained kitsch, you’ll still have a decent option for a burger, fries and shakes.
Image credit: Jackielyn Powell