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Fly Like Paper, Get High Like Planes

By Vicki Heath on December 15, 2012 in Food

Photo: James Hutton

As the funky pommy musician M.I.A put it: “I fly like paper, get high like planes. If you catch me at the border I got visas in my name.”

PaperPlanes in Bondi is not unlike an international journey, with the Tokyo pop-culture influenced restaurant offering world-class contemporary Japanese cuisine in a quirky setting that wouldn’t be out of place in the land of the rising sun.

Bondi’s three Barge brothers – Matthew, Chris and Tim – plus their adopted Scottish mate Phil, are the brains behind an operation that offers some seriously modern creations from the talented sushi chefs in the kitchen.

PaperPlanes has now been open for over six months and it’s been an instant hit in the Bondi crowd. A slick yet familiar venue, the roof is hung with 450 suspended skateboards that the boys shipped in from a Chinese supplier and installed in an impressive display courtesy of brother Chris’ design skills. Each board has a unique design stencilled by a local artist, with an abstract mix of icons from the Tokyo subway, street signage, sake, bonsai trees, and Japanese cartoons including Street Fighter and Astro Boy. The Sistine-esque roof design is completed by floating origami cranes crafted from aluminium.

The origami theme continues to the pretty pastel menus that fold up and around, which you can unfurl to find a solid fix of cocktails. I suggest heading straight for the Chilli Coconut Martini or Geisha Bellini. You can’t go wrong sampling the sake either.

The bar is licensed for cocktails alone but you’d be hard-pressed to stop yourself ordering a few morsels. The salmon tartare nachos, with fresh-as-can-be sashimi cubes sauced up and ready to be crunched off prawn crackers, take texture to the next level. You’ll also find a new gyoza sensation thanks to PaperPlanes’ prawn version with creamy lemon wasabi foam and crushed wasabi peas. Exquisite.

The waiters at PaperPlanes are truly onto it. The menu is huge so you may need their help for navigation. Sashimi, sushi, makisushi rolls, kushiyake (grilled skewers), teriyaki, squid ink buckwheat risotto, confit duck ramen – it’s all on there. Be sure to glance your eyes over to the neon pink sliding specials board perched behind the bar too.

The dessert menu is short but delightfully sweet. The black egg cocoa ganache is a stand-out, the Tokyo pop plant lemon cheesecake with popping candy is a literal cracker and the green tea rocher is simply drool-worthy!

The highs are only going to get higher at PaperPlanes with summer Sunday sessions about to kick off with live DJs and cocktail jugs. Live bands are already a feature throughout the week.

The Barge brothers and the Scot have nailed their concept. Such is their success they’re taking the Bondi scene to Bali, with a PaperPlanes venue in progress at Canggu beach, north of Seminyak.

In the meantime though, you don’t need to get on a plane to enjoy PaperPlanes. If it’s initial success is anything to go by, it’s going to be around for quite some time.


Location: Shop 15, 178 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach
Phone: (02) 9356 8393
Seats: 120
Open: Dinner 7 Days, Mon – Wed 5pm till late Lunch Fri – Sun – Sat Midday – Midnight Sunday Midday 10pm
Price: $5 – $30
Cards: Cash and Card
Licensed/BYO: Licensed only