Bianca: A booking at the recently awarded 3 chef hatted restaurant Minamishima is hard to come by. But an email to a Melbourne contact had us acquiring 2 seats at short notice for an 8:30pm booking on a Saturday night. There’s much to be said about its nondescript location below an apartment complex in suburban Richmond. It’s paired back minimalist dining room, with the prized seats at the long counter where you can watch some of the best sushi chefs in the country take you on a culinary journey over 15+ courses. All watched over by sushi master and owner, Koichi Minamishima.
The omakase at Minimishima will set you back $150, simply disclose any allergies and aversions and sit back. With no menu to revert back to you’ll have to bear with me as it was hard at times to hear the chefs and staff as they described each dish to us.
We started with Oyster tofu cream w/shiitake mushroom & seaweed butter. Plump and meaty mushroom paired with the velvety cream, the oyster flavour was fairly muted. It was a quick two bites but that immediately set the tone for the meal that was about to come.
And then began the 15 courses of some of the best sushi in the country. We were fortunate to be seated directly in front of Minamishima and to watch him at work was a thing of pure artistry. The delicate care and not to mention speed, with each and every piece of sushi was both theatrical and mesmerising. It was probably more than halfway through our dinner that we noticed there was no music within the dining room, it simply wasn’t needed.
1. King George Whiting w/sesame seeds. Can a simple piece of sushi be described as ‘elegant’? Well, I’m going too… As that was our impression of nearly every piece that graced our serving board. Initial sweetness gave way to a slow-burning kick of wasabi. Every piece of sushi was served sauced and only one course was served with wasabi to add as we liked.
2. Garfish, incredibly light flavour profile with a finishing note of ginger & spring onion lingering on the palate.
3. Deep Sea Snapper, white radish & ponzu sauce. Noticeably meatier than the prior two fishes. The citrus hit from the ponzu was especially noticeable and a welcome point of difference.
Alex’s selection of OKRO’s Rkatsiteli was a surprise delight. A dry Georgian wine that tasted exactly like our Nonno’s homemade wine. What a delightful find!
4. Calamari & Lime juice. The lime was right at the forefront, as we watched Minamishima glide the lemon wedge delicately across the calamari. The fish itself tender. This was the first piece of sushi that I instantly took notice of almost each and every grain of rice.
5. Octopus from Hokkaido. Texture wise, this was textbook perfect.
6. New Zealand Scampi. A culmination of every bite we’d had thus far, sweet, buttery, savoury and full of texture. A virtual explosion once you popped it in your mouth. Easily pulling away from the tail.
7. One of my favourite pieces was the Scallop from Hokkaido. The intricate little cuts in the fish producing a tender, velvety bite with a kick of wasabi at the end.
8. Japanese Shellfish. This was an instantaneous no from me, with the texture and chewiness throwing me off.
9. Flamed Flounder Fin. This was the overwhelming favourite, torching the flounder created an intense caramelised note, buttery and incredibly rich.
10. There was some confusion here as to the exact names of the next two dishes. But we had the Bluefin Tuna Belly from Japan. Which was a major struggle for me, chewy and this may sound odd, very ‘raw’ tasting. Alex, on the other hand, loved it. Dubbing it ‘the wagyu of the sea’.
11.Ootoro, more up my alley, the tuna being rather luscious and fatty.
12. Making way ultimately for the stand-out. The Seared Bluefin Tuna Belly from Japan. A concentrated saltiness, the act of torching the tuna adding a whole other depth of flavour.
13. Sea Urchin from Japan/ uni. Bit of an embarrassing disaster moment as this was set before me. Alex took the first bite and his reaction quickly paved the way for my mini freak-out. I politely pushed mine to the side and they quickly set about making me a replacement of Salmon Roe. Which was possibly my next worse nightmare.
14. Mackerel from Japan. Our final piece of sushi was mostly unremarkable, we were at the point where everything was starting to get a little same same.
15. Egg Omellete Roll. A rich, sweet and savoury morsel that signalled the closing of the sushi set.
Our final savoury was a palate cleanser of sorts, a broth made of Kelp, Bonito & thin noodles. Alex and I are a couple of savages so this was perhaps a little too understated for us.
Dessert is typically the favourite course at any FFS meal and while we weren’t expecting any grandiose far-fetched creations. We were left a little disappointed when our dessert of 3 Chocolate Truffles was set before us. Matcha, Genmaicha & hojicha all fantastic in their own right, just not how I’d choose to end a meal of that calibre.
We had mixed feelings about our meal at Minamishima. It was many things, exhilarating and fantastical and to witness such craft up close was an experience I’ll remember for some time. But for us both to turn to each other and whisper ‘Maccas run’ close to the end of the meal is a little problematic. Now that I’ve been, I’d see no real reason to return but I’d be quick to recommend everyone experience it, just once.
Photos by Alex