Minamishima – 12 Dec 2017

Well hello gorgeous. Apparently the only way to book the best sushi restaurant in Melbourne is over the phone, and a friend of mine had been commenting about how difficult it is to secure a reservation. Well, I haven’t really failed yet, so I decided to give it a go. As to not overwhelm the person (or people?) on the other end of the line, I decided to wait a few minutes after office opening hours before calling.

My first go? Busy signal.

Second? Busy signal.

So on, and so forth.

Maybe my phone was broken. Maybe theirs was broken.

I tried calling Tipo 00 just to see if it was me or them. Busy signal.

I tried calling Tipo 00 again. They answered. I had a super awkward conversation about trying to book a table for one (see my post about it).

Tried calling Minamishima again. Busy signal.

1 hour 10 minutes later, after about 80 dial attempts, someone answered! Yay!

I think at this point I was actually really nervous, because what do I say now? Hi I’d like to make a reservation? Luckily there wasn’t any awkwardness and I probably sounded like a normal person. Finally done, table for one.

Well, I thought it was for one. A couple of days before my reservation, I received my confirmation SMS, except that the text said that I was reserved for two. Um, no? But I hit confirm since I needed my table. Also, it was a Sunday that day so I wasn’t even able to call to double check! Luckily I had a friend on call just in case I did somehow magically end up with a two seat reservation. However, it seems someone at the restaurant noticed this, and I received a call shortly after anyway to confirm it was only one person. Phew!

Finally, the big day came. And of course, there must have been a cancelled or broken down tram, because I had to wait super long for the next one, and when it arrived, it was a single carriage, so everyone had to play sardines 🙁

I made it within 15 minutes of being late for my booking, but it was okay, it looks like there were several chefs who were keeping track of everyone at different paces anyway, so I settled down and placed a drinks order and listened to the specials.

Woah, that was fast! I was already handed my first piece! Hokkaido scallop and seaweed. What a great little bite!

Okay, now where was I. That’s right, the specials. I had already overheard the person sitting next to me decline the one of the specials, so I kind of knew what to expect. Sooooo…. the specials were fugu, scampi with various toppings, and wagyu beef.

Fugu!! Well, I thought about the chance of me dying a horrible death there and then, and decided, hey, why not, let’s try fugu. So I said yes.

I passed on the scampi because it was just scampi with toppings?

And I was “bored” of wagyu beef.  But more on the definition of “bored” in a later post (Kisume).

Junsai and edamame tofu. What a cute little starter! I love water plants, and these ones were great and gooey! The tofu was quite interesting. It felt more like a jelly made of agar agar than a tofu, but that’s just me. Still very soft, and definitely had a soybean flavour to it!

And here’s my drink. It was a mikan shiso soda, with a surprise maraschino cherry inside! I chose this one since I sampled my friend’s yuzu soda yesterday.

Pretty water bottles!

So you know how I decided to pass on scampi with toppings? Well, yeah. I saw one being made, realised exactly what “various toppings” were, and asked for one of these! My goodness, what a treat! What a superstar lineup of scampi sashimi on a bed of crispy nori, topped with none other than: blue scampi caviar, daikon and bottarga, finger lime. I was advised to eat these from left to right, and having the finger lime last provided a really nice zesty freshness! I can’t believe I initially turned this one down! Never again!

Alright, the main sushi course has started! First up, king dory. I think it was king dory, or something that sounded really similar. Quite nice, but I what I noticed here, is that I was comparing to the only other omakase I’ve had in Australia – Sokyo, and the one thing that’s distinctly different is the rice. Here it’s less vinegary, and a slightly different texture. I think I prefer Sokyo’s rice.

Cobia. Yay, cobia! I’ve been wanting to try this fish ever since I saw Mr Niland do cobia bacon. It’s quite a nice piece of fish! I would compare it with the likes of kingfish in terms of flavour and fattiness. 

Always gotta do the action shots these days 🙂

Calamari. Yeah, my opinion of squid hasn’t changed. I still don’t like it raw, lol.

Octopus, on the other hand, is delicious! This was served slightly marinated, and with a dab of wasabi. The wasabi was for the octopus only, the chef explained. Yummy!

I really liked this Queensland prawn with prawn powder. It was cooked and insanely sweet, and then the prawn powder on top gave it an extra flavour much like prawn crackers!

This one was described as the edge of flounder. Hey, I think I know what he was talking about because I had a whole flounder not that long ago! It is literally the edge of the flounder, but deboned, so that the flesh was so soft but still all intact.

Local tuna. I think he said local. That probably means it’s yellowfin since they’re found in South Australia.

Look, a blowtorch has appeared!

No don’t worry, this bluefin toro wasn’t blowtorched!

This one was though. Both versions were tasty, though I can’t quite remember which I liked better. Probably the not-seared one.

The smoked bonito was a real treat!

But this was more interesting. Mackerel and a type of seaweed. Quite nice textures on this one.

Sea eel in a cute rectangular form! While it tasted good, I didn’t find this one too special.

But lo and behold, this was the showstopper tonight. When I saw the red plate come out, I figured, that must be my fugu!! So I started taking lots and lots of pictures.

If I’ve previously said that a food was overkill, well, it’s just been superseded. This was simply insanity. So many tiny different toppings went onto this, and then out came the microplane and the whole thing was smothered in foie gras! The fugu itself, I couldn’t tell was fugu, because I didn’t get any tingling. I’m also still alive, and the person sitting next to me asked how it was. I told them, if I’m still alive in half an hour, I’m sure I’m good to go. The texture was a little crisp and chewy, but lean. This was in contrast to the foie gras which was rich, smooth and melt in the mouth.

Yay, salmon roe and rice! I actually laughed a little on the inside when I saw this, because I’ve actually been planning to make this during Christmas! But too bad, my restaurants beat me to it! A simple delicious dish.

It was about here that the waitress said that it was the end of the savoury courses, and asked if I wanted to have anything else from the sushi counter. The guy sitting next to me had ordered two more cobia, and I was thinking of either that or the scampi, but I decided to be sensible and not overeat or overspend (lol), and didn’t go with any extra pieces. Hooray for self control!

And the little tamagoyaki to finish the night. This one was cute and had their name stamped on it! I’d say the texture of this is similar to that of Sokyo.

A light broth made of snow crab, and in it was a little spanner crab “marshmallow” as I call it. Basically, spanner crab and egg white mixed together to be like a light and fluffy version of a fish ball. And a chrysanthemum leaf. Nice and clean!

And to finish the night off, chocolate. Green tea, genmaicha, and houjicha flavoured. They were really smooth and enjoyable, and were an accurate representation of the tea! It was simple and it worked. I finished the night pretty full, but not nearly as roly-poly as my Tipo 00 experience.

My verdict? It felt like walking into a real, classy sushi bar. It felt more “real” than Sokyo’s omakase (but would never compare the two directly since the atmospheres are too different). This place had the right decor, setup and just overall feeling. My favourite special was that of the scampi, because the scampi was so sweet and I have a love for all three toppings. The cobia was the biggest surprise since I had no idea what to expect, and had a really good flavour and texture. I can see why the guy next to me really liked it, because it was my favourite piece of fish too! If I had to re-order a piece? The QLD prawn.

The fugu was great to try once, but honestly, I don’t think I would recognise it if I ate it again. It’s definitely something that I would recommend getting, it’s not as scary as I thought it was, and I said to the guy next to me, yes, I would order this again. I think I would. It has some strong competition though, I would always choose (and recommend) the scampi over the fugu simply because I like how it tasted a lot more (and scampi caviar! Bottarga! Finger lime!). Who cares about the wagyu, the best I’ve had was at Waku Ghin!

What I also found funny, was that even though I was 15 minutes late, I actually kept pace with some of the diners who’d started earlier. They had a lot more drinks in between, whereas I had the single one and a lot of water. So even though I was taking pictures of everything as I went, I didn’t actually spend a longer time as a result, which I thought was pretty cool, since social media is the death of dining times these days.

The experience was totally worth it, especially as the base cost of this meal was less than $200. If you can’t get to a high end sushiya in Japan, this is the next best thing.