In 2016, Brendan & Caryn Liew started a cafe called chotto on Smith Street in Fitzroy. chotto, which means briefly or for a short time only in Japanese, was always intended to be a temporary experiment. The cafe brought ryokan-style breakfast and later a kappo & kaiseki-influenced dinner menu to Melbourne. It also tapped into regional and modern (Studio Ghibli) Japanese cuisine through a series of themed events.
chotto was featured in Epicure, the breakfast issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine, and What Chefs Eat 2018. Sadly, due to site constraints, the cafe closed in September 2017.
After chotto, the couple were approached to write a cookbook on Tokyo's cuisine. Called Tokyo Local, the cookbook was released through Smith Street Books in Australia, Simon & Schuster in the UK and Rizzoli in the US in May 2018.
Head Chef Brendan spent time at the three Michelin-starred Nihonryori Ryugin in Roppongi (Tokyo) and Hong Kong. He also studied the art of ramen-making in Japan prior to focusing on kappo and modern kaiseki cuisine. In Melbourne, he has worked at hatted establishments including Ides, Kappo, Supernormal, Golden Fields and Bistro Vue. Brendan currently works at Minamishima.
Formerly working in public relations and representing the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group including the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo out of Melbourne, Caryn holds a Wine & Spirits Education Trust Level 2 qualification and has a keen interest in nihonshu.
Together, Brendan and Caryn have travelled extensively to Japan's countryside and major cities, to explore, learn and live Japan's culture and cuisine.