Uncle Don brings its dressed-up donburi bowls to South Brisbane
Fans of Uncle Don’s range of high-end rice bowls will be thrilled to hear that the beloved donburi specialist has expanded. The team recently opened a slick new location over in South Brisbane, where the likes of premium teriyaki-butter-coated wagyu, braised red-miso pork, grilled freshwater eel and char-grilled duck are layered atop pillowy piles of steamed rice. With Japanese soft drinks, beers and sake also in the mix, we might have just found our new favourite lunch spot.
Rice with toppings. Broken down to its core elements, donburi is one of the simplest dishes in Japan’s culinary gamut. Easy to prepare and easier to devour, there’s a reason donburi is ubiquitous across Japan. The beauty of this one-bowl wonder, though, is its sheer versatility. There are countless ways elevate donburi – all it takes is the right ingredients.
Just ask Brian Lee, who has been giving donburi the fine-dining treatment with his casual eatery concept, Uncle Don, which first burst onto the dining since with the opening of its Rosalie nosh spot in 2021. Here, donburi has been given a mouth-watering glow up courtesy of culinary techniques and primo produce – the kind typically found on the menus of more upscale restaurants.
Uncle Don expanded in late December 2023, opening a contemporary new eatery on Melbourne Street, just next to Taro’s Ramen (another proponent of taking Japanese staples to another level). The space – double the size of its Rosalie sibling – not only features a bigger kitchen and bar, but the venue’s aesthetic (which is crisply minimal, with blonde timber, brown-leather banquettes and warm up-lighting) more suitably matches the finer fare Uncle Don is known for.
Speaking of which, Brian and his team has spent the past few years gradually enhancing the Uncle Don menu. The South Brisbane offering differs slightly from that of its Rosalie counterpart, but it is still divided into the same easy-to-navigate sections. Naturally, the fun starts with snacks – think pork katsu sandos, parmesan-coated karaage chicken, crispy eggplant chips and pork gyoza.
And then it’s on to the dons, with options separated by protein. A slightly larger selection of seafood dons come with toppings like grilled freshwater eel and oven-baked soft salmon, while the ochazuke (a dish that’s currently exclusive to South Brisbane) sees a medley of salmon, crab meat, rice crackers, nori, arare and shallots doused in a dashi broth.
Up next, there’s chicken katsu, char-grilled chicken and grilled-duck dons, followed by crispy pork belly, braised red-miso pork and chilli-marinated pork options. The beef section is where you’ll find Uncle Don’s most premium bowl – the wagyu steak don, boasting waygu (with a marble score of eight) coated in teriyaki butter and served atop a pillowy pile of steamed rice.
A clutch of vegetarian bowls (featuring the likes of grilled eggplant, fried tofu and grilled shiitake mushroom) leads into a selection of curry don, with ingredients like karaage chicken, scrambled egg and grilled vegetables swimming in a rich pool of house-made curry sauce. Finally, a range of keto bowls (which are also exclusive to South Brisbane) are also available – ingredients include char-grilled chicken, sweet soy-marinated beef and salmon.
All of the above can be washed down with an expanded range of beverages, including hot teas, Japanese soft drinks, tap and bottled beers, wine, cocktails, Japanese fruit wines and sakes.
Uncle Don is now open in South Brisbane – head to the Stumble Guide for more information.
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