I love Japan and I love Brunch…Project 281 was off to a great start even before I walked in! After seeing the space and trying the food though - it went above and beyond!
WOW. A converted warehouse with SO much natural light that makes you forget where you are. They even take it one step further by creating an outdoor space that seamlessly links with the indoor space. I could’ve hung out here for hours and just take it in. Luckily I visited Project 281 with 3 friends because the menu was just as impressive and hard to pick from with so many fusion options to decide from.
The very cute Japanese Taiyaki (Berry stuffed waffle, sesame chocolate sponge, choc nut soil, berries, brandy coral, musasaki sorbet) was a perfect balance of flavours - not too sweet and not too sour. I also really appreciated the authenticity of the actual tayaki as its not just a pancake mix - it tasted genuine. Additional elements such as the refreshing fruits and the crisp also complemented the dish with crispiness, sweetness and a very slight bitterness that I loved and added an extra finesse to it.
Next, Soft Shell Crab Okonomiyaki (Poached eggs, Japanese savoury pancake, tonkatsu sauce, vegan mayo, slaw, pickled ginger, bonito) which was very doughy and dense. I would’ve preferred it with a bit more fluffiness even just for a nicer mouth feel as it was a little chewy. Otherwise, the crab was seasoned well and the sauce was SO YUM. Give me a cup and I could drink it up with the savoury saltiness it brought overall. It also gave the dish some depth and richness. The density of the pancake was the downfall of this dish but maybe a bit of salad could’ve lightened it up.
A newbie to the Spring menu, the Berry Ripe Crepe Cake (Beetroot crepes, raspberry coconut cream, chocolate, roasted coconut, berry sorbet) which was very well constructed and another light and refreshing dish for our brunch! There was a lot of texture on the plate - from the crumb to the coconut flakes and the layers of crepe. I found the coconut was a little overwhelming when eaten with the crepe cake though and it drew away from the smooth textures you expect from crepe cakes due to the coconut flakes. The addition of dark chocolate was a bit odd to begin with but turned out to be awesome as the bitterness was a real game changer.
The most standard menu item we had for the day, the Truffle and Hash Scramble (White truffle spiked scrambled eggs, mushrooms, feta, hash brown, truffle mayo). I couldn’t help but love this - truffle, scrambled egg, potato. It was hard to fault this dish at all. The eggs were plentiful and creamy - making the perfect blank canvas for the rest of the flavours. The texture of the mushrooms was on point as it was chewy and offered a unique pop. Personally I like a good soft hash brown and this one was no exception. It was quite peppery and not crispy at all so this dish is a no go if you’re not a fan of either of those on your hash brown. The truffle was just a hint but enough to enhance the aroma of the dish and add a note of truffle on the odd mouthful. Altogether this was great classic brekky!
The Tropical Mango Smoothie (Mango, passionfruit, coconut milk) was fairly average with the potential to be great if it just had a ton more mango flavour to it. Also…chia seeds in smoothies are a pet hate of mine since they always get stuck in your teeth!
This was such a unique brunch experience that I found myself surprised at every mouthful of every dish. Project 281 definitely deserves its hype well and is worth the visit if you’re tired of the same old brunches you normally get and are looking for something new!
Presentation (5): 5
Taste (5): 4.5
Service (5): 4.5
Atmosphere (5): 5