9.825/10 on Thursday 10 May 2018.
The Walrus: Leading the Carpenter through the rain, down a back alley off Bourke street and waiting at the entrance to an inner city apartment block...I could see his confusion as he was straining to keep the trust in me to lead him to the dining experiences we strive for.....then we were buzzed in and took an old elevator down to the roughly rendered basement, at the end of which was a little wooden door with a small symbol on it which when we entered opened up into a 16 seat Japanese dining bar facing the chefs/staff with a gigantic Chinese lantern covering the back half of the room behind us.......
The Carpenter: A drizzly Melbourne evening wrapped tightly in a warm overcoat waiting patiently in a back alley off Bourke St. A bit of a hunt to find the unmarked basement entry to Ishizuka. Through the lobby of an unremarkable CBD apartment building. Down a level in the elevator. And into a giant lantern. The basement is rough finished. The restaurant has a total of 16 seats, all at the counter facing the prep and serving area. A sensational setting.
W: We sat in our seats and drank our martini's watching the staff all preparing the menu items we were about to receive..... the martini was very well made. 9/10
C: An MGC martini, Good stuff as far as MGC goes. 9/10
W: The Carpenter will lay-out the menu we went through (see below) but suffice to say, it was nothing short of spectacular The stand out dish was the Otoro Sushi. Flown in from the Tokyo fish market, it is the most desirable part of the blue fin tuna, taken from the inside of the under-belly of the fish. Its so well marbled, it just looks like a light orange colour all the way through. When eaten it just melted away in the mouth like butter. It was the nicest piece of Tuna sushi I have ever eaten by a LONG way (and that includes Minamishima!). All we could do is sit there with a blank stare in disbelief and eventually ask the waiter if we could have that course again....straight away...which we did. The second time we took it a bit slower to savor the experience. I looked over at the Carpenter and notice he even started to tear up he was so moved. It was truly a revelation in taste and texture. The only thing that felt a little out of place among all the delicate flavours during the courses served was when it was punctuated by a very stong mackerel dish but other than that..perfect .... 9.9/10
C: A degustation style Japanese feast. Expertly prepared and served. An individual menu prepared daily based on the availability of ingredients.
Sakizuke: Abalone Tofu, Abalone, Caviar, Microchive.
Zenai: Autumn delicacies. Five pieces. Exceptional.
Sakisui: Snow crab, Daikon Radish, Ginger, Bonito Konbu broth. The Radish was so finely chopped it was amazing.
Otsukuri: Blue-fin Tuna, vinegar cured king dory.
Yakimono: Grilled saikyo black cod, hokkaido scallop, kakigama
Nimono: Kamo jibuni
Daimono: Grilled mayura signature wagyu. Watching the meat prepared, cut and served was amazing
Sunomono: Scampi, geoduck, persimmon, yuzu meringue
Oshinogi: Toro Sushi. Fresh off the plane from the Tokyo fish market. So amazing we had a second serve. It just melted right away. The second time a dish has been so good it brought a tear to my eye.
Oshukuji: Heshiko chazuke. A real punch in the face - pickled mackarel. So aggressively flavoured to make the distinct switch from savory to sweet. Almost too much. Probably too much. Well, it was ALOT to take.
A series of amazing dishes brilliantly prepared. And building to the Oshukuji closer. Paired for me by the somelier with two sakes - the second a savory flavor that beautifully complimented each dish. With the nifty trick of diluting to suit each course. Amazing. 9.75/10
W: Two courses including Autumn fruits that contained a half a bright green baby peach that I have never seen before and which tasted delicious. Also the fresh raspberry had been filled with Yuzu curd which was a brilliant taste combination and attention to detail We then finished off with a delicate and rich creme caramel with chestnut sauce....absolutely fantastic. 9.9/10
C: Two dessert courses to close out this brilliant meal.
Mizugashi: Autumn fruits. Included a baby peach - so bright in flavour it was a very special element.
Kanmi: Chrysanthemum jelly, espresso creme caramel, chestnut sauce. An amazingly rich dessert. Fantastic textures.
Delicate and delicious. 9.5/10
W: The waiter recommended a botrytis dessert wine which was fantastic 9/10
C: Not sure we had a sticky with this one, did we? The Walrus says we did - by now I'd worked through two sakes and the martini, and was probably still reeling a bit from the Mackeral. 9/10
W: Excellent service. Attention to detail at this level not seen very often in Melbourne. 10/10
C: Exceptional service - matching the sake to the main was inspired. And it's a very small dining group. 10/10
W: Takes the fine dining experience to a new level in Melbourne 9.9/10
C: Brilliant culinary theater. 9.75/10
W: Wandered up to the new viking themed bar, Mjolner and the bar staff selected a very nice Akvavit for us to try. 8.5/10
C: A gentle stroll through the city streets to have a surprisingly good Boulavadiere at Mjolner, an oddly Norse themed bar on Hardware Lane. Oh, and the Walrus gave me my first intro to Aqvavit - now that's a spirit worth trying. Apparently very hard to find in Melbourne...9.5/10