Melbourne

Kisume – Melbourne

Kisume is Chris Lucas’ (Chin Chin, Kong and Hawker hall) first foray into Japanese cuisine and it’s an exquisite culinary experience.

Food

Although the a la carte menu is enticing with its mix of traditional Japanese cuisine and more creative dishes, my focus is entirely on the omakase. Translated directly from Japanese, omakase means “leave it up to you” and at Kisume this means the chef will serve a succession of 12 pieces of sushi followed by miso soup. Unlike other Japanese restaurants that import fish from Japan, the seafood served at Kisume is predominately from Australia and New Zealand.

My sushi feast starts with an appetiser of creamed corn topped with a delicate parcel of seafood. Juicy salmon roe provide bursts of flavour to the rich and creamy dish, while caviar and gold leaf crown the translucent ball of fish and crab. The 12 pieces of the omakase are:

  • Akami (lean tuna)
  • Kingfish
  • Grilled salmon
  • Scampi with uni
  • Garfish
  • Whiting cured in kombu
  • Seared bonito
  • Seared scallop with karasumi
  • Chu toro
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Wagyu with truffle
Creamed corn, ikura and seafood parcel

Creamed corn, ikura and seafood parcel

Right as I finish my appetiser, the chef starts preparing the first piece of sushi. In a matter of seconds he has created a ruby red akami (lean tuna). The flesh is fresh, the rice is very nice and the garlic soy mixture that’s brushed on top helps cut through richness.

Akami (lean tuna)

Akami (lean tuna)

Kingfish sushi

Kingfish sushi

Grilled salmon sushi

Grilled salmon sushi

The 4th piece is a real show stopper. Chef gently lays a plump piece of scampi on top of the glistening sushi rice and tops it off with a generous portion of sea urchin. It’s a umai mouthful of umami.

Scampi with sea urchin

Scampi with sea urchin

Garfish sushi

Garfish sushi

Whiting cured in kombu

Whiting cured in kombu

Seared bonito sushi

Seared bonito sushi

Seared scallop with karasumi (dried mullet roe)

Seared scallop with karasumi (dried mullet roe)

Chūtoro (中とろ) - medium fatty tuna

Chūtoro (中とろ) – medium fatty tuna

Salmon sushi

Salmon sushi

As the chef was preparing the mackerel sushi, he kindly asked if I wanted any additional orders such as otoro. Before he could finish his sentence I replied yes and order a piece otoro.

Mackerel sushi

Mackerel sushi

For those who have never had otoro (fatty tuna) before, rectify that mistake because otoro is the creme da la creme of sushi. The only downside of tasting this luxurious dish is that the second you finish you are craving for another one.

Otoro (fatty tuna)

Otoro (fatty tuna)

Just as I thought the dinner had reached the peak, I was proven wrong by the last piece of sushi. The final dish is a seared wagyu sushi topped with shaved truffle, just before it’s served the sushi smoked with wood and served under a clear cloche with smoke swirling around.

Wagyu sushi with truffle

Wagyu sushi with truffle

Smoked wagyu sushi with truffle

Smoked wagyu sushi with truffle

Last but not least we have chrysanthemum miso soup, a calming end to an exciting meal.

Chrysanthemum miso soup

Chrysanthemum miso soup

Drinks

As expected of a high end Japanese restaurant, sake is heavily featured on the drinks menu – with varieties from across Japan. Cocktails, wines and spirits are also on offer if you are not fond of sake. Since I had to be at a work function early the next day, I opted for a refreshing yuzu lemonade.

Service

Because I was at the sushi bar, I was treated to the impeccable service of the sushi chef. A hallmark of a great sushi chef is being able to tailor an omakase to the diner on the spot by varying the speed of the service and the chef at Kisume did just that. He also clearly introduced each dish and where the ingredients were sourced from, while carrying a conversation with me in between the dishes.

The waitstaff were generally attentive although there were slight lapses in service such as not refilling my water and returning the wrong jacket.

Atmosphere

The sleek decor, clever lighting and edgy bondage photos by Nobuyoshi Araki created a very intimate setting for diners. Those lucky enough to snag a seat at the sushi counter are in for a show as they get to witness the chefs deftly create sushi masterpieces.

Verdict

The omakase at Kisume should be renamed omg-kase because it’s a heavenly experience for both the eyes and the taste buds.

This review was based on an independently paid for meal.

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