Yugen Tea House in South Yarra is preparing a larger nightclub to open early next year

Yugen, the tea bar that opened in the Capitol Grand building in South Yarra in November, is just the first taste of a larger, Japan-centric place of the same name set to open a lower level. by March 2022.

Good Food may reveal that Yugen Restaurant will be run by Chef Alex Yu, a former student of Chase Kojima’s Sokyo Restaurant in Sydney, in partnership with Executive Chef Stephen Nairn. Nairn also oversees the Omnia Hall at the Capitol Grand.

Yu and Nairn will deliver omakase meals, serious sushi, and charcoal-grilled bites late at night to an underground space, with eight-meter ceilings, accessible via the tea bar.

The Vanilla Slice at Yugen Tea Bar in South Yarra features salted caramel under vanilla cream and a crown of puff pastry. Photo: Henry Trumble

Nairn says the restaurant will be “inspired by tradition, but not bound by it,” with Japan and China as major touchstones.

At the 40-seat bar, tea sommelier Thibaut Chuzeville (ex Vue de Monde and Fat Duck) serves 40 specialty teas from countries as diverse as Malawi, Georgia and India, as well as major producers in China. and Japan.

The name Yugen refers to a fundamental tenet of Japanese aesthetics, which Chuzeville describes as “a deep and mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe. It is something that you cannot see but feel ”.

Pastry chef John Demetrios' treats include kalamansi, matcha, and lime makrut.

Pastry chef John Demetrios’ treats include kalamansi, matcha, and lime makrut. Photo: Henry Trumble

His team brews green, white, oolong and even aged tea in Chinese Gaiwan containers, served with tasting notes and offered as 45-minute tasting flights. This is a serious step forward for tea drinkers in Melbourne, where the same level of care is usually reserved for coffee.

A retail area with tea cups and jars from Victorian ceramicists such as Minhi Park, as well as hand-crafted copper tea strainers from Kyoto, provide inspiration for Christmas shoppers.

The room, in gray, black and white, is defined by gray stone structures with sharp angles, an architectural nod to the mountainous regions where tea is cultivated.

Afternoon tea service began last week, with Sichuan cucumber sandwiches and sweets from pastry chef John Demetrios arranged on tiered seating.

Demetrios also makes cute domed cakes, luxury pie inspired by vanilla slices, and tea infused cakes. These can be paired with a teapot or wrapped and taken away.

Nairn says he and Demetrios have visited several tea places around Melbourne for research purposes, but showcase Asian flavors such as kalamansi and lime makrut in a French-style pastry shop.

Evening dessert tastings with tea cocktails will begin in the New Year.

Open Wed-Sun noon-5 p.m.

Capitol Grand, 605 Chapel Street, South Yarra, 03 8080 8080, yugenteabar.com.au

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