Location: 25 Market Lane, Melbourne 3000
Phone: (03) 9650 0848
Fax: (03) 9650 0950
Lunch: Sunday ~ Monday 1200 – 1430
Dinner: Sunday ~ Thursday 1800 – 2230
Friday ~ Saturday 1800 – 2300
Public Holidays Dinner only: 1800 – 2230
Shoya – one of Melbourne’s highly rated Japanese Restaurants. Their philosophy is
to provide a level of fine-dining Japanese cuisine in the traditional style – yet imposing the master chef’s own personality and creativity in the process.
The traditionally prepared, creatively presented unique signature dishes uses carefully selected ingredients which avoids the usage of commercial and chemical and instant flavouring for the better taste and the diners’ health.
My friend and I were there on a week night so the restaurant was relatively empty and quiet, but the wooden ambience reflected warmth and comfort so I guess it wasn’t so bad? We were greeted with a warm welcome and the host lead us to our fine dining table. Quick note that Shoya not only offers fine dining seating but also smokeless Japanese style BBQ, traditional HORIGOTATSU style seating (><), an executive section with sushi bar, Karaoke rooms and an executive lounge. Did someone mention karaoke? *smirk*
The restaurant offers quite an extensive menu catering a diverse range of dietary preferences. My friend has recommended the Degustation Menu where you find Shoya’s set courses such as Chef’s Omakase Course; Festive Course; Vegetarian Course and Wheat Free Course. I reckon it is always wise to select a set menu when you are unfamiliar with what the restaurant has to offer, so I went with the Chef’s Omakase Course!! (first one on the Degustation Menu =.= was so lazy…)
Omakase (お任せ) stands for “it’s up to you” in Japanese and to me it is Shoya’s expression of a ‘Chef’s special set menu’ where selection of the dinner is left in the master chef’s best hands. Sure enough, the chef has presented to us a diverse range of dishes varying from light in taste to heavy and rich flavoured delicacies.
The good thing about an Omakase is you can always expect to be amused, unless if you have selected the same Omakase many times already. The Chef was innovative with the flavours and ingredients of the dishes and offered a meal in a combination of taste and art. A good product is always enhanced by good services; the waiter and waitress were professional and enthusiastic.
Throughout the meal, they have introduced each of the dishes as they were served and patiently answered many of my curious questions. =P
Here is the Chef’s Omakase Course we have consumed *drum roll – taiko!!*:
Salmon Carpaccio Shoya Style
Murray RiverSalt-cured salmon, thinly sliced served with Salmon roe, Truffles, Sour plum sauce and Wasabi mousse
I have a feeling that I got too excited and forgot to take a photo of it =/
Steamed chicken mince mixed with Japanese sweet plum, with a sweet sauce glace, and topped with lentils
They were like dumpling fillings >=) But I quite like the sweet plum and sauce
Diced mini awabi, pan-fried and mixed with French Monk Fish Liver, topped with home-made cream cheese. The sauce is an apple onion sweet sauce
Abalone with creamy textured fish liver and cream cheese, interesting.
Hatching Ocean Egg
Steamed savory egg custard, spinach pureé topped with tempura scampi tail
One of my favourite dishes! Originally I thought the base holding the egg was edible too haha, it looked like sorbet. As I was deep in thoughts about that ‘sorbet’ I actually missed the more interesting part where the waitress took the egg out of a traditional wooden box…
Assortment of Sashimi
Carefully selected and arranged by our chef to delight your eyes and mouth
Crystal ‘fish bowl’!! It is made out of ice, when we did ask them how they mould/carve it the waitress became all mysterious… It’s a Shoya secrect but I WILL FIND OUT!! The other picture is the freshly grated wasabi (more explaination later)~
Beef Spinach Roll
Stewed Ox Tongue wrapped with spinach soufflé served with lemon, basil yogurt
Tender, rich and flavoursome would be the words used to describe this dish, quite a big tongue!
Whole ‘Taraba’ crab leg deep-fried in tempura style
I can’t believe that I had trouble peeling these (I love to eat crabs…), so I had the expert helping me peeling them. The seasoning on the side was a green tea powder with salt and pepper.
Umi no Megumi
Green tea soba in a rich lobster, bonito and white fish stock, topped with a pan-fried Hokkaido scallop, surrounded with Taraba crab meat and grilled calamari
Quite a seafood combination
Wagyu Beef Steak
Wagyu eye fillet dressed with black truffle, enoki, shiitake miso sauce
What a good steak, except I was already full at the time, wished that I had more appreciation for this dish. Both of us found the red chilli quite odd for this dish, but a spicy chilli has the ability to open up ones apetite, so maybe that’s what the master is trying to achieve? And apparently it is viewed as a warrior’s ritual to eat chilli in Japan because of its spicyness that gives individual fear and mental block. =.=
Mixed tasty steam rice with chicken, vegetables and mushrooms
Miso soup with seaweed, tofu and chopped green onions
Simple and delicious, this traditional combination has really won my heart haha
Chef’s selection of home-made dessert specially arranged for you
=d If only I could make desserts the first dish served in restuarants… Working our way from the lightest to the heavy and rich chocolate cake, these little delightful desserts were unique in flavour, especially that cheesecake.
Apart from the amusing presentation of the dishes and their wonderful flavours, I was more impressed with the little details of some dishes such as the usage of the rhizome of Wasabia Japonica. Instead of a green wasabi paste like what we are used to, the waitress finely grated the rootlike stem before of us. Because the texture and composition is quite different the waitress suggested to us that the sashimi should be dipped in soya sauce first and then into the fresh wasabi. According to this article in the Chemical and Engineering News:
The flavour (of wasabi) is affected by how finely the wasabi is grated. The traditional way to grate wasabi is with a sharkskin grater, called an oroshi, which resembles fine sandpaper. Unlike horseradish-based stand-ins, the heat of real wasabi dissipates quickly because of the volatility of the flavor components… With wasabi, when you grate it up, it’s only good for, at most, 15 minutes… it’s best to grate it as you need it.
Freshly grated wasabi had more moisture and stronger spicy zing (provided by the plant’s natural isothiocyanates), unfortunately this goodie is difficult to cultivate hence it is not widely available to countries outside Japan. Shoya is the only restaurant in Melbourne that uses the rhizome which was imported from Tasmania.
Other little things which were just as amusing were the usage of sea urchins in the cheesecake; egg custard served in an egg-shell and the tender ox tongue which gave me the impression of a big sloppy wet kiss. *don’t mind me*
Dining with Shoya was an eye opener, wished that they would extend their trading hour to even later on a weeknight so I can get started on those sake!! xD (Yes, I am demanding like that). Also, great thanks to the generous f@@die for this round of adventure.