Shyun – He did it again

•September 7, 2015 • Leave a Comment

If you read my previous post about the Shyun restaurant, you know how much I like them. Sometimes I feel like keeping it as a secret because it’s just too good but you should try customized sushi/sashimi platter made by Mitsuo-san who works there on Thursday and Saturday night only. You should order them a day or 2 days in advance. We went there and pre-ordered a sashimi and sushi platter for 6. The results? We were blown away by the care Mitsuo-san put in these 2 platters. DSC_0272

We started by this! Yes! This! You can see the diversity of sashimi there presented with the remaining of the Snapper on t he left and the Silver Bream on the right. You can tell how fresh it is by looking into the eyes of the fish. Usually when it’s a bit white and foggy, that means it’s not fresh but here it’s just clear showing maximum freshness. I really enjoyed the sashimi rolled in pickled daikon at the bottom.


Everything was just so so so fresh, it doesn’t get better than this. It is so beautiful that we didn’t even want to touch it.

Followed by a sushi platter out of this world…


They see me eating…they hating…yes, everyone there was looking at us with envy I think. I mean look at this, scampi, scallops, kingfish, salmon, etc…everything was delicious with an impeccable presentation. Look at the details!


Mitsuo-san again impressed me by his skills and passion. He knows me quite well as I used to go there almost once a week when I lived in Carnegie. Same for the owner Tomohiro-san. Whenever I have a special event and a desire for sushis, I come her. Last but not least, I was extremely touched by one little detail. The lacquered wooden plate the chef used for the sushi. He told us that it was a gift from the Japanese emperor family and he used it like this for the first time. I couldn’t grasp the value of this plate for Mitsuo-san and I felt so honored that he used that for us. We ate like kings or pigs, depends on your perspective ;-p and it was worth every single dollar! I am so glad to have build this bond with Mitsuo-san and Tomohiro-san. They really care about giving fresh and delicious Japanese food at an affordable price and everytime I go there, I feel so welcomed and they know I share the same passion for gastronomy. So what are you waiting for?! Give them a call and ask for a sushi/sashimi platter from Mitsuo-san, just tell them your budget, maybe things you would like or don’t like and they will take care of the rest. No worries. I think if you count about $30 per person for a big platter, that will be quite a meal, like you won’t leave hungry for sure but hey, there are so many other yummy things on the menu…how can you resist ?

Shyun Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Akachochin, Japanese restaurant

•August 6, 2015 • Leave a Comment

33 South Wharf Promenade, South Wharf



I went for the first time to Akachochin for a special dinning event called “Oakridge Sea & Land”: a 5 course-meal with 6 matching wines. I’ve heard about this place before but never dared to go there. I decided to adventure into Akachochin after a friend told me about this event and I trust her 100% when it comes to her culinary opinion (Arigato Yuko!). The head chef Kengo Hiromatsu designed this meal to match the beautiful wines from Oakridge (Yarra Valley) and let me tell you something straight away, this was one of most exquisite meal I had in my life. I will write another normal review with future visits to this wonderful place. This would be a special post.


Entree platter
Oyster with kouchi yuzu foam, black sesame tofu with sesame tuille, umaki truffle and eel omelette and salmon temari sushi

The oyster had yuzu jelly cubes in it, I don’t know what happened to the foam. When I think about the sauce I would use with an oyster, I think about something citrusy, fresh and…..liquid. The best being shallot vinegar in my opinion but I was amazed when I had oysters at Koko (Crown Casino) with a delicious ponzu sauce. Yuzu is a very interesting Japanese alternative to lemons. It offers more complexity, like mixing the fragrance of a bitter orange and the freshness of lemon. However with this dish, the jelly did not do its magic to me, it felt a bit dry with the oyster. It did not deliver the citrusy freshness I was expecting.

The temari salmon sushi was beautiful. Very simple and tasteful, a whole mouthful of really fresh salmon with a sushi rice extremely well balanced, not too sweet, not too sour. You can almost find the sushi rice light in flavor compared to other places, but once you start to see that it doesn’t overpower the salmon then it makes sense.

Being a huge fan of truffle, I was excited about the umaki omelette. The first bite offers all the sweetness and the creaminess of the eel with its typical honey-like sauce and the omelette helps to keep this sweetness in your mouth. I was disappointed because I didn’t smell or taste the truffle. I don’t know if the omelette was cooked at a temperature too high to keep the flavors of the truffle or if the eel was too strong. Either way, didn’t feel the truffle.

The highlight was the black sesame tofu…surprising, isn’t it? The tofu was semi-soft, almost a bit sticky like jelly. In your mouth you feel this wonderful sweet and savory dance between the light broth at the bottom of the dish and the black sesame. As I chew, I loved this mix of flavors, an experience between a starter and a dessert. The best was to eat it with its crispy sesame tuille and a little bit of wasabi sauce…divine! The sweet crispy tuille added a texture contrast to the tofu and pulled the flavors toward the sweet side but then the wasabi sauce kicked in and switched the whole thing to the savory. It reminded me of one of the best starters I had, it was in Burgundy (France) with fresh goat cheese, blackcurrant coulis sandwiched between layers of sweet and crispy tuille. Bravo to the head chef who got me amazed with…tofu!

Sashimi moriawase
blanched scampi with yuzu salsa and house made prawn cracker, snapper kobo-jime and aburi toro with wasabi salsa


Ready for the second course, expectations were getting a bit higher after this black sesame tofu. Three types of sashimi here. Start with the snapper. Among white fish sashimis, snapper is my favorite, semi-firm texture and a clean and fresh taste, this was a good start.

The blanched scampi was delicious. Raw scampi is usually very sweet and creamy. The creamy texture can become sickening if it stays too long in the mouth. It happened to me when I pigged out and decided to have one more scampi sashimi before leaving the sushi place. I think blanching the scampi would slightly cook it to add a little firmness the sashimi while keeping its sweetness and creaminess. It makes more it more refined for the palate.

Last but not least, the aburi toro…oh my oh my, when I saw how pinky and glossy it was, I immediately asked the waitress if it was otoro (tuna belly, the fattiest part), she said yes! If someone has ever tried kobe beef or high grade wagyu beef, well this is the equivalent but with tuna. When you put this delicious piece of toro in your mouth, there is no warning. The first bite releases a fireworks of flavors with all this delicious tuna fat. As you chew, this “meaty” feeling intensifies and spreads all over your palate. Even after you finish it, you are left with the reminiscence of this incredible moment as you wash away the last bit of juicy fat with a glass of chardonnay. I’ve had otoro in Japan but to have it torched like this brings out more flavors and makes eating toro to another level. The flavors immediately explode in your mouth from the first bite. Unbelievable. Most of the time I eat something that delicious, I’m telling myself that we shouldn’t be allowed to eat something that good.

Awabi and truffle o-suimono
baby abalone and fresh truffle in a clear soup

I was coming down slowly from my toro cloud and getting prepared for the next dish. During the 2015 truffle festival, I was lucky enough to attend one dinner and one lunch centered around black truffle, so obviously I was curious to try this new union between what the earth and sea can offer best: truffle and abalone. Firstly, taking a good sniff at the freshly shaved truffle on this abalone shell wakens my olfactory sense. I think the first time I smelt a black truffle I was just amazed that your nose could reach this level of satisfaction, same as what palate could experience. I think the only time I sense such complexity and intensity with my nose was with a glass of Pommard Grand Cru in France. Such olfactive experience feels like a symphony to your nose. Until you’re experience it, it’s very hard to truly apprehend it.

IMG_4712Breaking through the puff pastry, I can see a very clear light brown broth. I’m used to dark and cloudy broths when I’m looking for intense flavors like a good tonkotsu ramen, but soups like cantonese ones or even a good vietnamese pho can deliver packs of flavors. Here, it was better than I imagined. A very clear and delicate broth that carries the essence of the abalone. It’s a very delicate flavor, seafood is strong in soup but abalone almost gives a nutty, round and sweet taste. Now, time to throw the shaved truffle in it,  let’s marry earth and sea.  

Here is the result. Doesn’t look pretty but trust me, it was astonishing. There were generous pieces of abalone with enoki mushroom. Abalone feels a bit elastic but still tender, a bit firmer than fresh calamari. Now I can see the harmony of both ingredients. The broth is enhanced with the depths that offers black truffle, adding earthiness to the sweet abalone broth but the best comes after you had a mouthful of both. When you exhale through your nose, you can re-experience this union, the truffle smells even stronger as it got warm with the soup. The naughty part is the puff pastry in the soup. You know when you have a stew or a nice sauce in your plate and you want to just dunk a piece of bread to soak all the flavor but you didn’t do it because it would look bad? Well, the puff pastry here was doing just the job during the whole dish. A wonderful experience in this little dish. I wish it never ended.

Kamo nanban
Roasted duck breasts with soba noodle in sticky dashi
I love duck, in french cuisine with a sweet sauce (orange or peach) or roasted in cantonese BBQ style. When it came in, I can see slices of duck breast on crispy soba noodles with a thick broth at the bottom. I was really intrigued. So I decided to try each element separately first. The duck was really tasty but I like mine more rosé (more medium, slightly rare). When the duck gets cooked like medium/well done, it could get a bit dry and stronger in taste. The noodles felt like common crispy deep-fried noodles but you can feel at the end the distinct buckwheat flavors, very interesting. The sticky dashi was between a light flavored sauce or a strong flavor reduced stock with maybe a bit of soy sauce and mirin, felt a little sweet and round.

I remember when I saw Jimmy Page talking about Led Zeppelin, he said that each member played good at their respective instrument but once together, they somehow reach a superior level they couldn’t achieve individually. This is the same. Once you get a complete mouthful of this piece of duck breast that you have smothered with the sticky dashi sauce and crispy soba, it becomes a culinary story. You have this texture contrast between the tender duck and crispy soba. The strong meat flavor from the duck becomes really well balanced with the sweet and smooth dashi sauce, which continues with some of the soba that has absorbed the sauce’s flavor. At the end of my dish, some of the sauce was left. I saw a guy in front of me slurping the whole thing…I couldn’t resist, sorry if it was bad manners but the temptation was too great.

Wagyu aka miso ni
wagyu short ribs braised in a tomato enriched red miso with fondant daikon

IMG_4719This dish reminded me of my dad’s Chinese tomato beef stew. This last dish on the menu was on the fusion side. I didn’t know what to expect from this as I’ve never tried something like this. Braised wagyu? My first thought would be to loose all the wagyu fat into the stew, therefore some of the flavors. I couldn’t be more wrong. Each bite of this short rib was as tender as it gets with loads of a rich beef flavor you have with wagyu beef. The tomato and red miso provided rich savors to accompany the meat like in an Italian ragu. In the end, I got more intrigued with the daikon than the rib. The reason why is because the piece of daikon melted in your mouth with a surprising fatty beef flavor. The look and the experience reminded me of bone marrow! I was wondering if the chef cooked it at the end with beef fat or bone marrow but it felt very subtle. Cooked with beef fat, it would have been too stronger and bone marrow would have felt much greasier. Puzzled, I went to congratulate and to thank the chef Kengo Hiromatsu. I told him about my impression of the daikon radish and I asked him if he used beef fat or bone marrow. He looked back at me with a little smirk telling me that there was no beef, it was butter and dashi! How on earth could that be possible. I don’t know if he wanna keep it secret but I’ll definitely try to experiment in my kitchen to see if I can do something similar.



This was surely one of the best dinners in my life. Sometimes you go to a 5, 6, 7, etc… course meal, it can go up and down. Blown away with one dish and leading to high expectations for the coming one, then you feel disappointed that it couldn’t top the previous dish. Here, there were elements that I enjoyed but nothing stunning. Having said that, on every single dish, I could find something to blow my mind away or the whole dish took me a culinary heaven. The whole dinner was amazingly elegant because it had so many different flavors and yet, everything was so tasty and well-balanced. I don’t know about you but when I eat something tasty, I smile. When it’s bloody delicious, I frown. Well, after this meal, I definitely got a new wrinkle on my forehead.

I asked my friend Yuko who knows the chef and she told me something that really narrates perfectly this dinner. The dishes successfully represented the personality of the chef, no strong seasoning, focused on the ingredients, humble, and yet complex and intense like a symphony or a beautiful glass of pinot noir. Hiromatsu-san, thank you so much. You have touched my heart with this dinner, it was truly an experience that would stay etched in my memory for a very long time. 御馳走様でした!

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Shyun, Japanese restaurant

•August 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

126 Koornang Rd, Carnegie VIC 3163


Ok guys, I’m going straight to the point, Shyun is my favorite restaurant in Melbourne and I’m going to tell you why. I arrived in Melbourne in 2009 to live in Carnegie. By chance, I went to Shyun to try their food.
I just want to remind everyone that I lived in Japan (Sendai) for half a year and even before this, I lived a year and a half in South Korea where there is also a sushi culture and during my stay in South Korea I had my first trip to Japan where I felt in love with japanese food.
SO when it comes to japanese food,  I’m very picky. Shyun is just fantastic on so many levels. It’s a midrange restaurant where your main is between $15 and $20. It serves normal “canteen” food like bento boxes, donburi (bowl of rice with a topping from sukiyaki beef to the classic oyakudon), little sides and sushi/sashimis. So let’s see what’s so good about Shyun which menu seems similar to other restaurants.


The simplistic and clean wooden decoration reflects the restaurant spirit and food. There is nothing pretentious, the food is good, fresh and simple. You feel welcome with a certain warmth from the place. When you enter, you immediately face the sushi bar where it becomes already difficult to resist if you have decided earlier to go for a hot meal. There are also some tables outside the restaurant on the main road of Carnegie where you could be cruel and show off with your chirashi-don in front of people desperate to get a table. There is a second room at the back where it is possible to drink alcoholic beverages. I think bookings are also available for this room. Sometimes when the restaurant is full, it could feel a bit packed but you still have your intimacy, contrary to Nobu.


I’ve been to this restaurant since 2009 and the staff is always very friendly. I became quite familiar with the owner Tomohiro-san (Tommy) and Mitsuo-san, the “senior sushi-chef” who will greet you with a kind smile. When I entered, he always greet me by saying “Bonjour Monsieur” because I’m french.
There are now iPads on every table. You can simply order by pressing on the desired item  with different options like “no wasabi” or “salmon only” for example. For further request you can obviously ask the waiter.

Minor problem that I have faced once or twice; when it was very busy all the iPads froze  and it took 10 minutes to get the waitress attention and to reboot the whole system so that we could order. The iPads are not here to show off, well maybe a bit but it was mainly to avoid ordering errors and to make things faster.

Value for money/taste

I’m going to mainly talk about the sushi/sashimi because it is exceptionally good value for money. Even for the warm food, most of the warm donburis are around $10. The sides between $5 and $10. You have bigger dishes like salmon steak or japanese beef steak for $15-18. Same range price for the Deluxe Bento where you can sample a bit of everything.

IMG_2921Probably the only photo I have of warm food from Shyun, these okonomiaki skewers that have been deep-fried. Okonomiaki (Osaka-style) are japanese savory pancakes panfried traditionally on a hot plate in front of you. They are made of  flour, cabbage and dashi (bonito stock) with different toppings. Here, Shyun delivers fun and originality to savor it on a stick with its typical okonomiaki sauce and japanese mayonnaise. I think octopus are also in the filling. I don’t have more photos or much feedback about the warm food but from what I can remember, the little side dishes like these okonomiaki are delicious and cheap little treats. It will give me another excuse to go back there and to try more of their warm dishes so I can update this post.

Ok let’s talk serious now. How are the sushi/sashimi at Shyun?  The big star of the menu is chirashi-don. Shyun has a variety of sushi à la carte, sushi maki, sushi rolls but the chirashi-don is really my favorite. A bowl of sushi rice topped with different seasonal raw fishes and shellfishes.

IMG_0743 IMG_1081Aren’t they masterpieces? Egg, kingfish, eel, salmon, tuna, cuttlefish, shrimp and seasonal white fishes. If you want to sample the freshness of their sashimi and the variety they have, go for this. It’s remarkable and to be honest, for $18, it’s the best value for money you could get in Melbourne for a chirashi-don like this. This a pure mix of sashimi bliss. I would start with the shrimp, then test the salmon for its freshness and fatty texture. Cleanse my palette with some ginger. Then go for a piece of tuna for its stronger and distinctive taste. Tuna is really depending on what they can get but in general it’s pretty descent. However, the kingfish is remarkable and its quality quite consistent. It’s not as firm as a classic white fish but not as soft as a piece of tuna, kingfish is for me my favorite fish for sashimi with a light acid after-taste and this smooth and firm fish. It is a real culinary delight! Maybe half-way through my chirashi, I like to go for the piece of eel to change texture and flavor. Precooked eel had this beautiful sweet soy sauce flavor with a creamy texture and it served warm in the chirashi so it also gives another contrast here.

I just came back from there today and they have a new Mega-chirashi for an extra $4 where they have in addition to the normal chirashi-don scallops and wait for it…wait for it…scampi sashimi! Yes you read it right, I’ve talk to the sushi chef and about they introduced scampi sashimi about a month ago in this new chirashi and also scampi nigiri sushi on the menu a la carte. That is an excellent news for those who had the chance to grasp the beauty of scampi sashimi. When you eat raw scampi for the first time, it is quite of an extraordinary experience. You feel its plump texture when you have your first bit but as you chew, it turns into a creamy sweet swirl in your mouth that takes you on a cloud. It’s just sugoi oishi! Everytime I go to Sydney, scampi sashimi at the Fish market or at Makoto sushi restaurant is always something I’m looking forward.
The scallops I had today made my culinary enthusiasm even more ecstatic. While it is common to taste a sweet flavor in scampi sashimi, it becomes more exquisite when savouring scallops and the ones I had at Shyun were so sweet and so fresh. Everyone knows the flavor of cooked scallops but when they are that good for sashimi, you feel that there is nothing else overpowering the taste of scallops, it’s just pure raw sweet scallop favor with freshness in your mouth with just a bit of soy sauce and wasabi. Dipping it too much in the soy sauce would be actually a crime ’cause you would just ruin the whole experience. IMG_3746

Here is the photo of the new mega chirashi. You can see the obvious scampi, unfortunately, they are not as big as in Sydney. I had 3 scallops hidden at the back on the right and some plumb and juicy salmon roes (ikura). This was just mind-blowing. And the amazing thing at Shyun, because of the freshness of the fish, you usually finish your chirashi with a very satisfied belly but yet feeling light with this lingering fresh seafood flavors in your mouth like its roaming soul hunting you for some more. Well, this time, because it was the first time to see scampis on the menu, I couldn’t resist, I ordered 2 extra scampi nigiri sushi.


For this dinner, I was sitting at the sushi bar on the counter and I was telling the chef how amazed I was about this chirashi I just had and they know me ’cause I come quite often, he offered me 2 free scallop nigiri sushis…That’s how they treat their loyal customers. They are really stunning. I was holding myself to not devour this like an ogre so I took my time to enjoy these littles babies like the way I described it before. I was on a little seafood cloud. And the best was…it costs me less than $30. That’s why I’m giving them a 10/10 and that’s why I often come here.

Another good dish is the tuna ryukyu-don. Once they cut the biggest pieces from the tuna, they scrap what is left on the tuna bones and marinate this “minced” tuna meat with mirin/sake and soy sauce. I don’t know exactly how they do it so I could be wrong. They put this on top on some sushi rice, topped it with spring onions, sesame seeds and chopped nori. Just pour a bit of soy sauce and wasabi, you’ll be amazed. I recommend the tuna one. The salmon ryuku-don is ok but not as flavourful. I think salmon tastes much better cut in thick slices. It is a succulent way to not loose anything from the tuna.


In Japan, it is quite common to mix salmon roes with this mixture so I ordered some ikura and asked the chef to just put it on top.

IMG_3136I was back in Japan! Thank you Shyun! This was probably less than $20.

Talking about ikura; few years ago, it was only depending on how lucky you are that you could get some in your chirashi-don but since last year, you can order some ikura sushi and that also made me more eager to come more often. IMG_2924 IMG_2556

Whenever it is with crispy cucumber or peppery shiso leaves, I can’t get tired to have these sushis, popping pearls that release this sea flavor in your mouth like a marine fireworks.

I hope this Salmon lover dish will come back to the summer menu. It was an interesting dish with a dome of rice wrapped with salmon sashimis and crispy deep fried salmon strips with a delicious sauce that tastes like the BBQ sauce they serve for japanese yakiniku. IMG_0863

And of course sashimi platters


There is a very nice sushi and sashimi platter for $43.


I was having this to celebrate my new job and we had a bottle of sake with it. IMG_2596

and to be my greatest surprise when I went to pay, I was told that the owner Tomohiro-san offered this bottle for the new job I was celebrating. Best restaurant owner you can have!

Ok for the finale, there is one last awesome thing that they do, customized sushi/sashimi platters. You can tell them your budget, the number of people, your preferences and specific items you would like to have and just wait to be impressed. I ordered for $200 of sushi/sashimi for 6 people for my PhD graduation ( $34 per person) and WHAT A FEAST! Without a doubt, that were the most beautiful and tasty sushi/sashimi I had in my life. Everyone was really impressed. We had 4 gigantic platters and they had to come twice as they couldn’t bring everything at once. I’m warning you, after looking at the following photos, I won’t be responsible for any crazy sushi cravings.


Salmon maki; salmon, kingfish, snapper and tuna sashimi; eels, prawn tempura, egg, tuna, kingfish, spicy aburi salmon, aburi scallop sushis

DSC_0736 DSC_0737There was a mix of fresh scallop sushis and torched ones with some miso sauce on top, magnificent! We were all in sushi heaven. And I want to emphasize on the price, per person, it was $34 while you will almost pay $100 in Shira Nui for the Omakase set.

IMG_3420Me with Mitsuo-san, the sushi magician who came to check that we were spoiled enough as he expected. He is just awesome.


Nothing to say. This restaurant is run by japanese, the food tastes authentic. You have classic dishes and some with an original twist like the okonomiaki skewers.


Once more, this post is mainly about the sushi/sashimi part of Shyun cuisine. You are welcome to leave your comments about the warm dishes but from what I have sampled, the dishes are from average to very tasty but keep in mind that it is still very good value for money.
So yes, Shyun is an excellent (maybe the best) place to have authentic sushi/sashimi for a very good price. All the seafood tastes extremely fresh. They have a decent variety and they keep expanding their menu which is a very good sign to keep you loving this little restaurant in Carnegie more and more. The owner is brilliant and he keeps true to his philosophy, fresh and simple food at affordable prices. With its success, Tommy could have increased his prices and during its last renovation, justify its price increase with a super fancy environment but no, he kept it as it is, sorry, same spirit but in a better and bigger place, a true improvement. On top of this, you can order customised sushi/sashimi platter and ask for some items you wouldn’t have on the menu. Only problem? Because it is a very good and popular restaurant, even during the week the restaurant could be full so either make a booking, come early or with patience. If after reading this post, I haven’t convinced you to visit Shyun, then I really don’t know what to do more ;-)

Shyun on Urbanspoon

“Melbourne has such a nice coffee culture”

•March 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Oh dear oh dear, how many times did I hear this? Melbournians and their proud for their “coffee” culture.

I know it’s been a while since I wrote something and I promise more food posts are coming, and news on my end. This post is now under a new category: Coup de gueule. It’s a bit hard to translate from French to English but it’s like having a rant but in a more objective way, not just under anger. Well in France, when people have a coup de gueule it’s when they are not happy about something and they want to complain (fitting into the stereotype) but beyond that, to express themselves because never forget that when you brag about democracy it is only relevant under 3 main points: 1. You know what you are talking about, 2. You question your own point of view and 3. You FREAKING express your opinion. I’m just saying that because the lay-back way of life in Australia doesn’t really seem to fit in the latter but that’s another story. So, what is my coup de gueule about the Melbournian coffee culture?



So I know my opinion is a very unpopular one in Melbourne seeing the reaction of people around me when I express my opinion about this topic but seeing people on Facebook sharing this stupid ranking of Melbourne having the best coffee in the world by … (really?) just gave me a stronger desire to share with the web my view on this.

First of all,…really? You really think that because some tourists said Melbourne has the best coffee in the world is enough to show it to everyone like a world cup trophy? It’s basically saying that your restaurant is way better than a 3-star Michelin because Urbanspoon has a better rating. The democratisation of these websites to give your opinion is a good thing, don’t get me wrong but there is a tradeoff. You take the risk of substituting professionalism by amateurism. For things like a hotel room, I think there is no problem, that’s why websites like tripadvisor seems to work so well but websites for restaurants, that’s another story. On Urbanspoon, how many times I’ve seen people talking about things they don’t know. You give me a ultra sweet thai curry rich with coconut milk and they will tell you that they had the best thai curry in the world. I think grotesque exaggeration is a thing in Melbourne, you can always see in restaurants or coffee shops ” the best … in the world”, I think that’s misleading publicity because it’s there is no restriction, everyone can write they have the best something in the world and that’s when it becomes really grotesque. That’s when you loose the meaning of words. In the end, that is one reason that motivated me to write restaurant posts on my blog and to put them on Urbanspoon so that hopefully I can dilute mediocrity by an opinion that I judge based on my friends to be valuable. Ask anyone around me if I took them to non-authentic disgusting restaurants AND when I don’t know about something, I won’t judge it in my blog.

Secondly, people keep talking about their coffee but have you ever stopped for a moment to think about your hot beverage components? In a cappuccino, you have about a third coffee, a third milk and a third foam. For a latte, you have probably a fifth of your beverage made of coffee, the rest is what? Milk. So when you have a latte (milk in italian), you’re drinking a coffee-flavored milk and not the opposite and not a coffee. Can you imagine talking to people who appreciate extremely old fancy whiskies and saying that you had a wonderful last night and when they ask if you have it straight or on the rocks and you reply “just with ice cubes and Coke”. It doesn’t make sense, does it? Well it’s the same with coffee. How can you tell that your actual coffee is delicious if you have 4/5 of milk in it. The thing is, I have nothing against a nice cappuccino in the morning, latte not so much but whatever makes you happy. The problem I have is that Melbourne has a latte culture, not a coffee culture. You may think it’s the same but no, words have meanings. If you have a coffee culture, then it would be like the italians. A Japanese friend who lived in Italy told me this “Do you know how to recognise a tourist in Italy?” I replied “no, how?”. She told me “Anyone who is having a cappuccino after breakfast is one””. So what do they drink for the rest of the day? Mainly expressos. When I asked my italian supervisor what he thinks about the latte culture in Melbourne, his answer was the following ” That’s freaking milk man, I don’t get their obsession with it”.  Once I got the comment saying that I was out of topic because in this person’s country, they serve instant coffee, therefore in Melbourne, there is a coffee culture…Well it’s like comparing instant noodles with a bowl of ramen from a restaurant, it’s not comparable.

If Melbourne had a true coffee culture, then most of the coffee shops would have different beans with adequate roastings and different origins to match the drink. For an espresso, I believe the roasting is quite different for a latte or an expresso because you need more bitterness and acidity for a latte as it will be diluted in milk. The good thing is that in Melbourne, true coffee shops exist with this diversity of beans, there is a very good one in South Melbourne market but most of them are the same thing because they serve the same drinks. When you walk among coffee shops during the day, you will see, it’s mainly latte. So when I was looking for a good expresso, I got something extremely bitter that in my opinion was not drinkable so they should not have put this on their menu. A separate comment more for the ladies out there. I always got the comment or question “is it true that french women are skinny?” ” how do they do it with all the food there?”. I read an article about this journalist who travels a lot between France and Australia and he compared eating habits between the 2 countries. Among the different interesting points he is raising, one caught my attention and is relevant to this post. You have a latte in the morning to work. Maybe another one at 10am for your break to wake you up. Then maybe a small one after lunch. Let’s be extreme and let’s imagine you’re having last one for a final break and a meet-up with your friend at 3pm or after work. Calculate all the calories you gather with 4 glasses of milk + sugar. A fair amount of calories for just a drink.

Last time, I had some good friends from the US that I picked up at their airport. We went to South Yarra to wait for their AirBnB apartment manager in a coffee shop. I ordered a ristretto. The waiter came back to me and ask me how I would like it served…I frowned. What do you mean how I would like it served, a ristretto is a more condensed version of an expresso. In theory, you need a machine that has more pressure than a normal one so that the extraction is done very fast as you have half of the volume of an expresso. So I asked the waited back “How do YOU serve it?”, he replied ” With ice”…ok…processing time…how the hell do you have ice in your ristretto, I was thinking maybe like a Ice Coffee with ice-cream and stuff. I told him “no ice, thanks, just the normal way”. Look at what I got


A ristretto in this coffee shop in South Yarra is a double shot of expresso in a martini glass (presumably with crushed ice) that you drink with a straw. The very funny thing is that 5 minutes ago I was explaining my view of the melbournian coffee culture and 5 minutes after I got my South Yarra style Ristretto the apartment manager was explaining how we have such a strong culture for coffee here in Melbourne. I think I have never ordered a drink that supported my view in 2 separate conversations.

Bottom line is…you can have your latte at any time of the day, please enjoy yourself, this post is not here to tell you what to drink or who you are. Australia is a very young country so whatever they can create and enjoy they will appropriate it as their own culture and that’s fine but please, words have meanings. So before you show to the rest of the world how good is your coffee culture, think again. I’ll probably make enemies today but again, I’m not here to criticise but to put my opinion out there and it’s up to you to take it and to think about it.

Nobu, Japanese restaurant

•March 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Crown Complex, Southbank



Nobu is among the most famous japanese restaurants in Melbourne. The story behind the success of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa is a pretty inspiring one. With a striking experience in Peru, you can see its influence in Nobu’s menu with modern dishes that mix south american and japanese cuisine.

However,  when I heard about the “franchise” Nobu (with 25 restaurants in the world) one question came immediately to my mind: is Nobu (the person) still a chef or became a businessman? To answer this question, I went myself to this renown restaurant to test its reputation…authenticity? creativity?



With a range of prices of this level, I was expecting a beautiful interior decoration and a very intimate dining experience. The decor was indeed appealing but the whole atmosphere was not  adequate for a personal dining experience.

The first feeling my girlfriend had when we went downstairs to the dinning room (upstairs being the bar) was “are we in a yumcha place?”. The place was packed with not much space between people and loud music in the background. When the waitress was speaking, we could barely hear what she was saying. I had to lean on the table or yell to chat with my gf. Because everyone has to speak up in this noisy basement, we could almost hear the conversation on the table beside…For this range of restaurant, Coco offers a more personal ambiance for a delightful experience.



Service was pretty good. We arrive on time for our booking but the table was not ready yet. Complimentary champagne helped to wait on the ground floor with the view on the Yarra river.

Despite the busy period, dishes came without a long wait, our waitress was efficient and explained us the dish ( when we could hear it). With such prices, you would expect excellent service and I think Nobu does not fail here. The only thing I would recommend is for the non-japanese staff  (most of them I think) to work on their japanese pronunciation. Hearing “irashaimase” with so many different tones and mispronunciations is not a good start to show authenticity to customers. It felt so weird; like the restaurant was overdoing to convince (themselves?) it is indeed a japanese restaurant.

Value for money/taste

Prices are very high and excellent service is not enough to justify such values. I need to be impressed at the first mouthful, to get a “woah” effect, to be blowed away, to levitate at the end of the meal. During most of the meal, I didn’t levitate a single nanometer above my chair. I’ll describe each dish we had and then put the price at the end so YOU can put this in perspective


Oyster with a trio of sauces (6 pieces)

Oysters were very fresh and  tasty. Not too big but this doesn’t bother me, I prefer small and delicious oysters. The 3 sauces were interesting as they exhibit distinct flavors The first one with lemon, coriander and a bit of chili. This refreshing south american flavor matches with the oyster in a “classic” way (lemon juice/oyster) with a little kick at the end as the chili leaves a nice after-taste. The second one, more japanese with ponzu sauce is a classic japanese dressing for oysters that I really start to enjoy. It doesn’t replace my french favorite shallot vinegar with a dark bread, salty butter and dry white wine. The third one was made with an onion dressing that reminded me of how oysters are cooked or baked in Mainland China with more intense flavors. Quite interesting one.

$34…hum hum…..

IMG_1268Toro tartar with wasabi soy dressing and caviar

I was expecting a lot from this dish. Being in Japan for 6 months, Toro (fatty part of the tuna) is something you fall in love instantaneously. Unfortunately, no nostalgia hit me during this dish, served in a micro serve. We had a tea spoon to eat this, the caviar…well you can probably count them with the fingers of your hands and I’m not kidding. The tuna was tender but it didn’t melt the way I remember back in Japan with a strong tuna flavor that transports you into the sea.Tthe sauce is just an improved soy sauce with wasabi. That was merely at the level of a good negi-toro from a kaiten sushi in Japan but at least in Japan I wouldn’t have to pay…..$45! Yes, $45 for this! This is really crossing the line, this is really overpriced. I know toro is a rare item here but it doesn’t justify $45. If you can’t find a descent toro, either lower your price or just don’t serve it. With the overfishing of tuna, I would vote for the latter option.


Scampi Inaniwa pasta salad tossed in ceviche dressing and creamy mentaiko

This dish was the best savory dish we had this night. The scampi were fully seasoned and very creamy, the perfect way to eat scampis. A full lobster-like flavor from each bite was something I would have enjoyed even more if the pasta or udon were not that bland. Ceviche dressing, you mean lemon juice? I have the chance to have a chilean girlfriend and I had plenty of ceviche (fish cured in lemon juice and herbs). I didn’t get any feeling of having a taste of ceviche mixed with these udon. So is “ceviche dressing” just a fancy name for lemon juice for non-initiated customers  who are easily impressed with names they don’t understand but are willing to pay the full price?

Beside this, I couldn’t taste much from the mentaiko (fish roe). I really enjoyed the texture of the udon and its firmness harmonises nicely with the scampi but I’m not sure if the chef was looking for a light citrus flavor to cleanse our palate or was just in lack of inspirations (and seasonings).

$40…..I wouldn’t pay that much for this dish, again, it’s because scampis are rare and highly seen as a small lobster but the dish needed more depth to justify $40. By the way, no need to remind you that there was ONE scampi.


Soft Shell Crab with Umeshu Amazu Cherry Tomatoes, Peach Aji Amarilo Salsa

A failed attempt to mix Asia and South America. The soft shell crab was nicely fried (not difficult from all the soft-shell crabs I ate) but there was no magic with the sauce. Just pieces of peach mixed with white wine or umeshu ( I couldn’t tell to be honest) sitting beside. With a beautiful presentation, the sauce and the crab were two distinct items with no consonance on the plate leaving me baffled for…$28

IMG_1275The savior of the night, the dessert platter from Pastry chef Yuko.

I actually went there with this insurance. I have a friend who highly recommended the desserts at Nobu and I was honored to met Chef Yuko to receive a description of her piece of art. This is truly remarkable (and don’t forget I ate a lot of dessert in France and in Japan). There is too much happening on one dish but I’ll try my best to describe it:

Green tea financier – like a small compact sweet madelaine with delicious bitter contrast at the end with the green tea flavor

A japanese donut filled with melting chocolate and banana to die for and surprisingly not too heavy

A chocolate fondant and green tea ice cream – the chocolate used for the fondant is a high class french chocolate delivering full dark chocolate flavors. The fondant was served warmed with a melting core of chocolate in the middle. The cool green tea icecream is a delicious alternative to vanilla icecream with chocolate fondant.

Sweet light pudding with infused fruits and a little crispy biscuit.

Mandarin and mango sorbets were so refreshing, a good cleanser between these flavors.

A sort of green tea and peach parfait was also a delight with crispy crumbles contrasted with peach and green tea mousse.

My favourite was the Suntory whisky cappuccino layered with crunchy coffee crumble, coffee crème, milk ice cream and whisky foam. The whole coffee was visually recreated with so different layers all surprising in texture and in taste. Fantastic!

Only $28! I really don’t get it. For the whole meal, there were single dishes above $40 and here, we have a symphony of desserts for $28. I think they need to lower the savory dish prices if they want a consistent menu.


Hard one to score. It’s a weird mix. Dishes were trying to be creative but failed in my opinion. The cooking staff must be japanese from what I tasted. Fortunately, Chef Yuko is able to show you the beautiful dessert you can find in Japan, a patisserie inspired by France but well balanced with light textures and japanese green tea flavors.



I would never go  back to Nobu. You want a high class japanese restaurant? Continue your walk in Crown to go up in the towers for Coco. Your money will be better spent there. With such high prices, nothing has succeeded in impressing me beside the desserts of Chef Yuko.
Let’s face it, Nobu is a business, not a restaurant. The place is packed to make profit and forgets about the unique dining experience it should deliver. Nobu should visit Melbourne and do a bit of cleaning in how he envisions his melbournian restaurant. Nobu are for people who doesn’t know about japanese food and who is just looking for a place to impress by its reputation, people who are more focused on appearances than authenticity.

In my experience (it’s going to sound very funny and probably not politically correct), if you enter a japanese restaurant with non-japanese waiters, there is a high chance it’s either very tasty but very pricey or simply bland dishes covered by excellent service…Nobu is unfortunately a bit of both

Nobu on Urbanspoon

Roule galette, French creperie

•November 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Roule galette

26 Rebecca Walk, Melbourne


There are 2 Roule galette creperies. I went once to the one in Flinders lane and it was good. We are trying the one on Rebecca walk with a voucher.


Casual creperie restaurant with photos of famous French singers. Location is pretty nice as you are just beside the Yarra river BUT there is one major drawback, it’s just beside the railways. It gets very noisy when the train passes. The place doesn’t have as much charm as the other restaurant in Flinders lane.

Very friendly staff. There was only 2 persons working there so it took a bit of time to get our order but in general it was ok.

Value for money/Taste


This is a tough one and I’m judging based on the price on the menu, not based on our voucher. To be honest, the voucher was SO MUCH worth it.

First, how do they taste like?
Monsieur K
French Morbier cheese and prosciutto
It’s a bit simple but it works well. Morbier cheese is not a very strong cheese but it is enjoyable in galettes like this with prosciutto leaving a nice after taste. A bit simple for, I would expect maybe a third ingredients to make it more complex but that’s my personal opinion.

Lucas, Tartiflette
French Reblochon cheese melted on braised potatoes, bacon and onions

Well, what can I say. If you’ve been in France and you tried a tartiflette (baked potatoes with lardons, onions and heaps of Reblochon), you will certainly enjoy this galette as I did. It made me feel so homesick!

Because it’s using Reblochon, I was afraid to have a tiny amount of it in the filling but they were quite generous! Made my day! Picture braised potatoes with a light sweetness enhanced by the onions combined with bacon in a swirl of melted Reblochon, a cheese that melts very nicely with a well-balanced flavor, not too strong but with character…So good!

A cup of cidre doux and a glass of Petit Chablis to go with our galette.

So prices of these two galettes are $15 and $16. For this price, I think portions are a bit small BUT they are using french cheeses (quite expensive here) and with authentic flavours. So smaller quantity but good quality. Recipes are quite simple, that’s a -1 for me but we are in Melbourne and prices are relatively acceptable. I’m guessing if you want to be full, you’ll need a sweet crepe, both should be under $30 for an enjoyable meal.


I almost cried with my tartiflette galette and I was feeling homesick afterwards so yeah, it’s french enough.


Try it if you want to have a simple french galette!
Will I go back there? Well, despite a nice tartiflette galette, I find the rest a bit too simple to my taste especially for this range of price. It’s acceptable, not exciting.

Roule Galette on Urbanspoon

Japanese Gourmet Kenji

•November 2, 2012 • 2 Comments

Japanese Gourmet Kenji

Kenji Japanese Gourmet


Sushi counter


I am always interested in mid-range authentic japanese restaurants because in Melbourne it is hard to reach a high level with a medium budget. You can go to fancy places like Koko or Shiranui that offer delicious meals but be prepared to cry a bit when you see the bill.
In this category of mid-range japanese, Shyun (Carnegie) is my No 1. I’ll make a post later on (good excuse to go back there). So when I heard from my japanese friend that Kenji in Camberwell was similar, I was impatient to try.

The ambiance is nice once you’re in the main dining area. I find it weird the way the restaurant is made. You enter through a first room for take-away with an open kitchen and food supplies. Big flaw, the toilets seem to be outside near garbage bins…
Beside this, the main dining area gives a rustic/japanese feeling. I love the sushi counter on the back, it’s like a theatre stage.

The owner welcomed us warmly and staff were always there. We were there early so I can’t tell how well they manage things once they are busy. My kaizen-don came a bit late though, my girlfriend was half-way through her bento box but the manager came to apologize.

Value for money/Taste
Things are a bit more expensive than in Shyun (my reference). Menu is similar (for the warm food menu) but they do have a larger variety of seafood.

Hamburg bento box

The hamburg is the japanese version of a burger/beef patty. Softer than a western one but of course much juicier, this hamburg was not too bad, a taste of japanese fusion cuisine. The bento box on the menu sounded very exciting but when it came in, hum, it’s alright. The croquette was delicious though, it’s like deep-frying a portion of creamy mash potatoes to add this light crispy tempura feeling, really delicious. The rest was average.

Ikura and Uni gunkan maki. The highlights of my friday night!

The sea urchin were pretty good and relatively affordable. However, they were not the freshest I’ve tried. With sea urchins, I feel that the taste of it is extremely sensitive to its freshness. When it’s extremely fresh, you feel like surfing on an wave of an ocean of creaminess (like in Shiranui)! It’s absolutely wonderful. However, as soon as it gets less fresh, a stronger taste like old foie gras kicks in and spoil the whole feeling of sea urchin. Today’s urchins were not bad at all but not the best.

I LOVE IKURA! These salmon roes are like ruby pearls that pop in your mouth as you chew them, delivering an intense and refreshing sea flavor. Beside Japan, I never had the chance to eat such fresh ikura. Other times I ate ikura, they are often soggy and despite having an acceptable taste, they did not this popping effect. This overall disappointment finished today when I had the ikura from Kenji! They are so plump! It’s like a little firework in your mouth constantly releasing a sweet salmon flavor at each pop!

Bad note though: the seaweed used in the gunkan maki was very thick and hard. After chewing and enjoying the first culinary notes of these jewels from the sea, the symphony is a bit spoiled by a hard and thick sea weed taking ages to be dissolved in your mouth.

Gourmet Kaisen-don

When I saw this, I was “Wow”, maybe the successor of my Chirashi-don has finally arrived. Very beautiful in colours and the way pieces are “assembled”, it’s really a piece of art.
However, the general feeling was quite disappointing. It was good but it didn’t feel as fresh as in Shyun, you know the feeling of having a nice fresh piece of salmon in your mouth leaving you a nice greasy salmon taste mixed with soy sauce, well I didn’t have it here. It was not bad, but it didn’t reach a stage of nirvana. Uma-ebi good, tuna very acid, shrimp very salty, scallop good. The high price of this good looking kaizen-don is not good value for money unfortunately.

Homemade matcha cheesecake with red bean ice cream

Good match! Really like to taste the bitterness of the green tea cheesecake and to refresh it with the sweet flavour of cold red bean ice-cream.

Everything tasted proper japanese food, no doubt about this. I have spent enough time in Japan to know my japanese food and for a Melbournian restaurant, it’s a good authentic japanese one.
I’ll definitely go back for their ikura and maybe explore a bit more their menu. It’s not too bad, much better than the average japanese in Melbourne, I find things a bit expensive but not excessive. It just lacks a little something to make it a Shyun killer, what a pity. It’s worth giving it a shot.

Kenji Japanese Dining on Urbanspoon


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