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From little things big, delicious things grow

Q&A with Lydia and Hedeh of Small Grain

The Small Grain stall has been a regular fixture at Saturday's Harvest Market for years. Now, owners Lydia and Hedeh are expanding to a storefront in Charles Street. They say it's a dream come true and if you've ever tasted Small Grain fried chicken or fresh, seasonal sushi, you'll probably agree.

We spoke to Lydia and Hedeh about what's coming up...

1. Explain Small Grain's cuisine and the inspiration behind it.
After arriving in Tasmania in 2011, Hedeh realised he was missing his family and culture in Japan. Having grown up with home cooked meals from his Obachan (Gran), he wanted to recreate this experience and share his culture through food. Initially this was with me and my family here in Launceston, and finally the greater community through the Harvest Market. We began selling sushi, and okonomiyaki at the Harvest Market, making Japanese food from fresh local ingredients. Over the last four years, Small Grain has become known for providing high quality, unique Japanese/Asian fusion food.

2. When did Small Grain start, what informed the business name and have you enjoyed taking your business on the road?
Small Grain was established in 2017, starting out at the Harvest Market in our 3x3 marquee, selling a range of products in glass jars focusing on healthy sustainable produce. Our menu has changed considerably but our ethos has largely remained the same. We have loved being a part of the Harvest Market, this has shaped our food culture, has given us an opportunity to test product and to grow the community that supports us now. The name Small Grain originates from the type of rice we use to make sushi (short grain), we both loved the name and and found that it wasn’t too polarising, allowing us to try a range of different styles of food without compromising our brand. The business started on the road, and has involved us setting up for markets and events every weekend for the past four years. We purchased the food van to allow us to be more mobile and to take the pressure off us physically. Being on the road however comes with its own issues, there have been a number of occasions where we have been stuck on the roadside having to call for help from someone to get us home. We soon realised that mechanics weren’t our skillset and wanted to focus on our strengths rather than our shortcomings. It was this that prompted the search for a bricks and mortar store front.

3. You're moving to bricks and mortar: are you excited and is the food van staying?
We are so excited to be opening the doors at 166 Charles St, we have been dreaming of bricks and mortar for a while now. It’s only a very small location with around 5 seats inside and 5 outside. We plan to focus heavily on takeaway and encourage our patrons to utilise the beautiful Prince’s Square just across the road. The food van, mmmm…. We aren’t too sure what the future holds for this as yet, but we will keep you all posted.

4. What should your loyal fans expect at the shopfront, including trading hours and menu?
You should expect the same faces, the same great service and of course staples such as our Japanese Fried chicken, fresh hand made sushi rolls, and Pork Dumplings. We have plans to expand the menu once we have found or groove. Initially we will focus on lunch trade and gradually work our way to evenings when we have our systems in place and staff to assist us.

5. What are your fave local products to use?
Most of our vegetables either come from Young’s Veggie Shed or from the Harvest Market, our meat is sourced from Nichol’s Poultry, Fork it Farm, Scottsdale Pork, and Real Beef. Other sources include:
Thirlstane Gardens
Olson’s eggs
Three Peaks Organics
Tsing Wah
Real Beef
Hazelbrae Hazelnuts
Honey Tasmania

6. Launnie is in the spotlight right now: what sense do you currently get about the place?
Being named as a City of Gastronomy is a massive achievement for the city and the food culture scene here in Launceston, we feel that being a part of the Harvest Market has provided the paddock to plate ethos to our business and menu. We feel that there is a real buzz around Launceston at the moment, there seems to be a lot of development happening. Just in the little area around our shop front there certainly seems to be momentum gathering, with Bread and Butter on Elizabeth street alongside Du Cane Brewery. We can’t wait to see what the future brings for the food scene in Launceston.

7. What's your hot tip for visitors to this place?
We would recommend heading to the Harvest Market for your breakfast/picking up some produce and heading to City Park for an impromptu picnic.

Find out more about Small Grain here.