January 6, 2010

Shoya Restaurant

25 Market Lane,
Melbourne, VIC 3000
(03) 9650 0848
Food: Modern Japanese, Smokeless BBQ
Website: www.shoya.com.au
Date visited: 5th January 2010

After much deliberation, Shoya was our choice for dinner last night. Walking in, we were greeted by the waiters with 'Irasshaimase!' (Welcome!) and promptly escorted to our table. On the way, we saw that the restaurant is split into different sections for Japanese Style BBQ, Traditional Floor Seating, A La Carte Dining, a Sushi Bar and a Karaoke Room. The decor was dark, elegant and modern with bursts of Japanese prints and bonsai plants.

It seems that the atmosphere Shoya strives to create is quite formal, with a gentle murmur of conversation coming from diners at other tables and between staff members. The waiters were friendly and extremely polite, but not as assertive or knowledgeable about the menu as you'd hope in such an upmarket Japanese restaurant. There was also something about the service that just appeared clumsy - they made a positive and professional first impression, but then the service slowly deteriorated as the night went on. On a brighter note, the food is to be applauded, tasting so fresh, exquisite and beautifully presented.

Sashimi Moriawase 

Tuna, Scallop (with gold leaf), Salmon, King Dory, King Fish. This dish was served in an impressive, hollow ice orb that slowly melted as we divulged into the bright-fleshed sashimi. The succulent scallop was a standout.

Tasmanian Oysters, Natural and with Ponzu Dressing - Fresh tasting morsels combined with the tangy, citrus flavours of ponzu is a match made in heaven!

Salmon Carpaccio 

Sea salted cured salmon, thinly sliced served with salmon roe, shaved black truffle, sour plum sauce and wasabi mousse. To eat, you simply roll each slice up with chopsticks, enveloping the delicate toppings scattered over. The tiny bits salmon skin added crispy bursts of flavour!

Nama Shii Hotate 

Shoya's signature quail egg, surrounded by mashed scallops, topped with a whole shiitake mushroom and then lightly deep-fried. Sensational dish, tasting even better with a sprinkle of the Sansho Pepper and squeeze of lemon juice!

Tempura Udon - Thick and slightly chewy noodles in a hot, enriching broth with perfectly battered tempura

Scampi Kinokoyaki

Another Shoya signature dish of grilled scampi topped with Japanese mushrooms and delicate miso paste. Sweet and tender scampi flesh, but very messy to eat. I wasn't provided with a bowl to discard the shells in and when I started to place them on an empty plate (from another dish) the waitress cleared it away, so I resorted to leaving them on Damo's tempura plate. I think I just needed a knife and fork, instead of chopsticks, to make removing the meat a more pleasant experience!

Kani Cheese Miso 

Interesting, but delicious combination of parmesan cheese mixed into a traditional miso soup. Tasted much like a seafood bisque. Once again, a VERY messy dish - When we used the crab cracker to split open the claws and legs, juice from the soup splattered everywhere, and our hands were all sticky from handling the crab!

Creamy Green Tea Ice-Cream with Red Bean

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